|As I ran across the finish line of my first 5k, exhausted and completely out of breath, I let out a huge sigh of relief. I did it. I just finished my first 5k. I had never been a runner and I struggled even just to get here. But I pushed myself to try something new and I'm so glad I did. I couldn't help but tear up after the race knowing how hard I had worked to get here.
And there was this exhilarating feeling that overwhelmed me. A feeling of euphoria like I could take on the world. A feeling like nothing could stop me.
This was my first taste of running. And I couldn't wait for more.
Please note: This guest article does not contain healthcare or therapeutic advice. If you are concerned about your health or well-being, speak with a health professional or visit your nearest medical facility in an emergency. The links in this article may be affiliate links that I will be compensated for at no additional cost to you.
Finding A New Coping Skill
Excessive worry and anxiety had been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. It was pretty normal for me to be berated with worry thoughts and worse-case scenarios constantly. Anxiety would find any chance it could to sneak into my life at the most inopportune times and ruin everything.
I am lucky that I found therapy in my late 20's and finally got professional help. This made the biggest difference for me. But I also discovered a new hobby which quickly became my favorite coping skill. That was running.
Running for Wellness
After I ran that first race, I quickly realized how great running made me feel. After a good run, the worries in my head went silent. Running always made me feel better if I was having a rough day.
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.
A Chemical Solution
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 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. Check out my Mental Health Resources page for some additional resources.
Life is too short to suffer in silence.
About the Author
Lauren Sheu is an RRCA Certified Running Coach, Mental Health Advocate, Speaker, Blogger, wife, and working mom. In addition to being a full-time Project Manager at a large tech company, Lauren is the Owner and Founder of Running for Wellness, LLC. Running for Wellness was created to help others improve their mental health and well-being through running.
Lauren coaches new runners, blogs about running and mental health, and volunteers at NAMI Keystone PA as a Mental Health Speaker and Family Support Group Facilitator. Check out Lauren's content below!
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