I have been fortunate enough to have never had to deal with any genuine mental health issues, but like most people there have been incidents in life that have left me not feeling myself, and recently has been one of those times. I find when I am feeling anxious or mildly depressed I lose my appetite and feel exhausted. All I want to do is get in my bed and close my eyes and hope that I will feel myself soon. Unfortunately as much as that is all my mind and body want to do I don’t find it helps, and arguably exasperates my feelings as I then start to berate myself for feeling so weak and hiding like a child under the duvet.
So how does running help? NHS Choices website has exercise alongside cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling as a proven, effective alternative to antidepressants. But as anyone who has been depressed can attest to, getting your kit on and going out feels like a huge hurdle. I do not have the answer on how to take the first step to exercising when you are feeling like this, and my experience of anxiety and depression is very minor, and I have still found myself unable to get out the door. On Sunday for example I had scheduled in a long morning run, I got home, ate, did my usual pre run routine and was immobilised by my mind until 4pm. The irony of this situation is I know that once I am running I will feel much better and that feeling will last long after I have refuelled and washed and yet I still lie there struggling to conquer my thoughts. I am by no means well versed on the field of mental health. This is just a personal account of my own struggles during times of anxiety to get out there and do the one activity that I know will help me.
Kelly Jayne Jackson was diagnosed with severe depression and generalised anxiety disorder. Kelly suffered with poor mental health from a fairly young age. But it was only in her late twenties that a full blown breakdown occurred and she was heavily medicated. For her the medications prescribed did nothing to actually help the state her brain was in, they only served to cease any feeling at all. Nothing. Which when dealing with suicidal intentions and anxiety, that was slowly manifesting itself in obsessive compulsive behaviours, isn’t actually a bad thing. Somewhere inside of her she knew this wasn’t a life, especially one that was shared with two children. So began the journey to find a cure, her cure. What followed was eighteen long months of intense weekly therapy sessions. Each week building on new skills on how to handle her ‘poor’ mental health using talking therapies, nutrition and exercise. It was in these three mighty things that she found a way out of the pit she was in. The days when even her body hurt from the burden of the thoughts in her mind, she still got up, put on her gear and went to the gym in hungry search of those elusive endorphin’s. Eventually she found them everywhere.
Kelly’s inspiring story demonstrates how the holistic natural remedies of communication, nutrition and exercise can be implemented to bring about a consistent and reliable aid to your mental health. As a result she is fitter, healthier and mentally happier. And continues this day to battle her mind with her weapons of exercise and the great outdoors.
1 thought on “Running for your mind”
Thank you for your article. Very helpful. Little and often is the key. When exercising for mental health the goals are different. For me I aim for everyday. Never do too much on one day that may mean you don’t go tomorrow. Go long and gentle. Different exercise produces different results. For depresssion I have found cycling best. 45 mins morning and evening. The effect is cumulative. In a very very bad slump it can take 4 days of that exercise level to climb out. Build a deep habit that will sustain you when insight is lost. Your habit or routine will then get you out. Good luck and love to you all who are fighting this terrible thing.