Running and Depression
I am a depression warrior.
I have been battling depression for a long time (read about my Major Depression).
What I have come to discover through my writing of my post on my own struggles is that many of us are following this same struggle and constantly searching for tools to overcome the depression and to ease the symptoms. We need to lean on each other. We need to help each other out. We need to share our stories, our struggles and our feelings as a way to cope and to heal. And it is OK to do all of that. We need each other. For so long and even now depression comes with a stigma and we need to work to change that because what I have found is that when we share our stories then we do help each other.
If you are like me then being depressed brings feelings of extreme fatigue, loneliness, feelings of being stuck and unable to move forward in life. This is a tough way to live when the world and our lives and families are moving around at warp speed around us and when there are goals to chase and dreams to capture. For me the traditional tools to battle depression-medication, psychologists-have helped but are not the only things that I need to start feeling more positive and able to live the life that I want to live. I have found that exercise, movement and mindfulness even if only for 20 minutes can help me to find better balance and more positivity to approach my day.
How running can help with depression
Runner’s World recently published an awesome article about the unique benefits of running for people battling depression: “When the Best Therapy is Right at Your Feet.”-Scott Douglas. If you haven’t read it yet I would highly recommend giving it a read. Douglas tells that, ” there’s more to it than endorphins,” which provide you with that runner’s high that all runners seek. He writes about,”The emerging, more sophisticated view of running to improve mental health also takes into account long-term structural changes in the brain as well as subjective states like mood and cognition.” Now if that isn’t a reason to get out and get running than I don’t know what is.
According to Candice Rasa in Competitor Running,” in one study, running was found to be as effective as an intervention for depression as psychotherapy.” When you run your brain secretes hormones that are a natural mood booster.While I am not suggesting that you use it as a substitute, if you can get out and get running you will discover some of the amazing benefits.
I always find that when I get out and go for a run I experience improved mental clarity and feel much more relaxed and balanced when I am finished. When you run you are able to do some of your best thinking but also to quiet thinking. Running also gets you out the door into the sunshine where you can reap the positive benefits of Vitamin D. Also, a change of scenery, getting out onto a quiet trail or onto a beautiful dirt road can help to change your mood.
Running in groups can also be positive for helping to combat depression because being with other people can help to lift your mood. One of the big challenges with depression is that it often brings about the desire to isolate yourself so making yourself join in with a group can be hugely beneficial.
Another big benefit of running and other forms of exercise on depression is that it can help you by giving you goals to work towards. The goals can be small such as building up to a certain mileage or big such as competing in a race. You will get the reward of feeling successful when you achieve your goals and this will give you something positive to focus on rather than focusing on perceived negatives in your life.
If you or someone you know is a depression warrior like me then these tips can be of help for you. If running is not your thing then there are plenty of other ways to get your body out and moving. Some other forms of exercise that I have found to be helpful are CrossFit, rowing, yoga, cycling, and swimming.
What are some ways that you get your body moving to help fight depression?