As a long time runner, I've used the upcoming Spring marathon season to get my running schedule back in place. It gives me an event to prepare for (the Auckland Half Marathon. Woop!), and from that a welcome structure appears. I've always known this, but there's something about running that has always been specifically brilliant for my mindset.
I'm stronger, I'm happier, and my mind is far more clear when I'm running regularly than at any other time. I will always sing the praises of yoga and meditation, for they plough the depths in a different way, but running is like giving your inner 5 year old time to play again.
In terms of sticking to it, scheduling works well for me. If my run sequence is in the calendar then there will be time set aside for it. For some people, meeting up with a running partner or a coach helps keep them accountable. Figure out what helps you be consistent. By training in the morning, my day starts off on a much more positive note. I feel energised, and there's already one thing that's been accomplished within the first hour of getting up. The old saying of 'you never regret a workout' is always true for me. A morning run calms my mind and allows me to deal with everything my day will entail in a much more managed and thoughtful way.
A big part of the return to running is that I want to feel like myself again. Running -- because of the movement but also because of the time outdoors -- massively supports my sense of inner wellness. When I'm looking after my sleep, diet, and exercise, a lot more of the other things fall into place. Trying to save up and budget? Exercise helps reinforce self-control. Have a stressful job? Exercise helps sleep and emotional regulation. You set yourself up for making better decisions with what life throws your way, and you can enjoy yourself more when you feel your best.
If you find yourself feeling stressed, overwhelmed and generally struggling, try exercise. It may not be a quick fix but it will definitely give you a positive focus if you find a workout you love. More walks, more tennis, more yoga -- it's up to you. Making the decision to focus on my mental health more through exercise has been my best decision of 2019 so far.
Here you'll find essays and musings on applied mindfulness. What does this look like on a daily basis? How can you infuse it in your day to enjoy yourself more? Join hundreds of others on the the mailing list (link in footer) to get these straight to your inbox.