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Running From My Worries by Jo
I have been running since my early 20's. Back then I just saw it as exercise and really something that had to be done to try and keep fit. It's always something that I have had to work at, I wouldn't say I'm a natural!
 
As I've got older, running has taken on a whole other meaning. I became a Mum in 2014 and again in 2017 and as much as I love my children, I struggled with finding how to balance my different roles in life, being a working mum. I returned to work after maternity leave and suffered a massive loss of confidence in my ability. This led to quite impactive anxiety, constantly seeking reassurance in the workplace.
 
My Dad passed away very unexpectedly in 2019 and everything came crashing down really. Grief brought all my anxieties spilling out, which left me scared to even answer the phone at work in case I couldn't answer the question on the other end, or at my very worse that someone might get hurt because I didn't believe I could do my job properly.
 
I had being running sporadically throughout all of this but was finding it increasingly hard to motivate myself. I sought help from my GP and my employer, who were both brilliant. I started medication, which was quite hard to start with, I did sink lower before I noticed a difference. I had 4 weeks off work and in that 4 weeks pushed myself to start running again. It was a goal to accomplish at least something during that time, as I saw having to be off work as a real failure.
 
Now I know that time was very much needed and running gave me something to focus on. That was October last year and it feels like a lifetime ago now as I feel so different. My employer and colleagues were and continue to be incredibly supportive, along with my husband and family and friends and I will never be able to thank them enough. I was referred for counselling through work, who helped me with my grief and so much more.
 
Now I run 3 or 4 times a week and on the days I don't, I am ready to get to the next run. I love the headspace and freedom it gives me, and know it has been a crucial part of my ongoing recovery and managing my anxiety, as much as the help from my GP and employer. I lose myself in music, being outside and enjoying the scenery and the rhythm of my feet on the ground. Like I'm pounding out any worries or stress I've had that day. If I see something particularly beautiful, I stop and look, or take a photo as sometimes I think we don't always take the time to notice as we're all so busy.
 
Running gives me this time. I always feel brilliant afterwards, and I hope it sets an example to my children. My eldest is already keen to come with me! I also use the time to think of my Dad. He struggled with anxiety too and I often wonder how things could have been different if he had worked out his way of dealing with it like I have mine. I was supposed to run a 10k race in the days after he died, but obviously couldn't. I signed up for the same race a year later and was going to dedicate it to my Dad, but it was cancelled due to lockdown. So I have signed up to Miles for Mind, and I take part with all of this in mind. With the world as it is at the moment, I know I wouldn't have been able to cope anywhere near as well as I have without running.
 
We all have a mental health that needs as much care as our physical. I'd encourage anyone who feels they are struggling to reach out. I was so scared to go to the GP and admit there was a problem but now I'm so relieved I did. I feel like me again, and although I know anxiety is something I'll always have to manage, some times more than others, I strongly believe running is a part of that. 
 
I have learnt a lot through all of this but one of my favourite resources that I want to share with others is the 5 ways to wellbeing. I find it really works and have it on the wall at home to remind me. 
 
https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-yourself/five-ways-to-wellbeing/
 
Take care all
Jo xx

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