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Running INTO Your Feelings

By Brandy Browne

Yesterday, one child was crying because her brother was irritating her. Said brother was crying because he lost his game, which had resulted in him lashing out and picking at the person who happened to be closest to him, his five year old sister. Finally, the oldest was crying and holding her hands over her ears because her siblings were crying, and she was trying to finish her homework. This momma was gritting her teeth in frustration and trying to refrain from saying things I would regret later. Truth be told, we were all tired. However, the tears had been rolling all day, and I was DONE. I needed a breather, and the day was far from over, with dinner, a 4H meeting, and baths still to go. 

I calculated my options. Soon, I had rearranged my evening to include a simple sandwiches, chips, etc. dinner, and I dropped my kids off with their daddy, changing into my running clothes in record time and downing a big glass of water with my preworkout mixed in. Still seething, I drove to our local lake and running trail. I stomped out of the car, put my Air Pods in, turned my music on full blast, and began to run. As I engaged in my angry run therapy, I focused on deep breathing in and out, in and out. I began to hear the sounds of laughter from children on the playground and other people on the trail I was running on. I could not help but smile a little, or at the very least, my jaw relaxed a bit (my teeth were thanking those children, I am sure). I heard birds chirping. I felt the sunshine on my face and the cool breeze tickling my arms. Slowly, I felt myself begin to regulate, and my mood improved. I was able to think rationally and see that none of my children were acting out to ruin my day. I began to plan for how the rest of the evening would be calmer. Miles ticked by, and I did what I do well. Run. Process. Run. Process. Breathe. 

The Mayo Clinic (2020) outlines the many benefits of exercise on their webpage. Exercise releases mood improving endorphins and helps the body fight the negative effects of stress. Physical activity (such as the running I was engaging in yesterday) provides an opportunity for meditation in motion. Exercising with a friend can provide much needed accountability and companionship while you work towards fitness goals. Truth be told, I enjoy running with my running partner more than running by myself, but I was so grouchy yesterday I thought I might need to regulate before I spoke to anyone. Ha!

Exercise can be a great means to battle anxiety and depression, and this is a tool that I utilize frequently, as both the above are something I have struggled with for many years. The key is to find something you love. Much to my surprise, the girl who HATED running as a child found that she LOVES it as an adult. I attribute this to my shift in mentality that comes with age and maturity. I do not have to be faster than anyone else. Running is for ME, my mental health, and I need to be working towards my own set of goals, not anyone else’s. In 2020, I ran a marathon. I ran for over six and a half hours. No, it was not terribly fast. However, only a small number of people can say they ran 26.1 miles at one time. I’ll take endurance over speed any day. These days, I am listening to my body. It has been a stressful season, so I am focusing on shorter distances, but with increasing regularity running four to five times a week. Same benefits, but less wear and tear on my body.

What is your favorite way to burn off steam and regulate your emotions? 

References

Mayo Clinic. (2020). Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469

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