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Why is Running Good for your Mental Health?

We were at one of the nicest places I’ve ever seen. Hiking up the hill to tour another castle in the rolling mountains of Switzerland. We were on a family vacation in 2017. This vacation was out of a dream. The sights, getting immersed in the new culture, the new foods, everything was so beautiful and exciting.

So why did I have so many negative thoughts rushing through my head? Why was I being berated by worry thoughts and worst-case scenarios. Welcome to life with anxiety! The anxiety will find any chance it can get to sneak into your life at the most inopportune moments and ruin everything.

Anxiety is like weeds that grow in a beautiful garden. You are distracted from seeing the pretty flowers because the ugly weeds are getting in the way. If you have anxiety like me, you probably have a lot of weeds in your garden.

I took a moment to do some introspection. My mind went to my therapist, Bebe, who always knew how to make me feel better. I couldn’t talk to Bebe because I was in Switzerland and back then people didn’t really do virtual appointments. So I would have to solve this one myself. What would Bebe tell me to do?

What do you need?

Then I remembered the question that Bebe asked me a lot. “What do you need?” When I asked myself this question, I realized that I had not run at all since we had arrived in Europe a few days prior. Then it hit me: I need to run.

I knew that running would make me feel better. It always did. Since we had been on vacation, my routine was completely off. Not to mention the time change probably affected my mood.

So when we got back to the hotel, I went to the hotel gym and went for a run. I immediately felt so much better! I went on a few more runs on that trip, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the trip and be truly present.

This made me really wonder…why is running good for your mental health? There are many benefits to running or jogging. It turns out that running increases concentrations of norepinephrine in the body, a chemical that helps moderate the body’s response to stress.

Running can control stress and improve the body’s ability to deal with mental tension. The chemicals released during and after runs can help people with anxiety feel calmer.

It’s really amazing that running can provide a solution anxiety relief that is scientifically proven to help you feel better! This is what I love most about running!

While running can be an amazing source of relief for those of us with anxiety, it in no way replaces professional help. I love the anxiety benefits of running, but I also see a therapist and take medication. There is no shame in getting additional support if you need it.

Life is too short to suffer in silence.


By Lauren Sheu

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