For years I used to wonder why people put themselves through the gruelling process of running. It was something I loathed and just never really understood. Until I tried the Couch25K app! It was a couple of years before my wedding when I first tried it and I mainly wanted to shape up for that but in the process, I realised there were so many emotional benefits of running too!
Exercise, in general, can have many emotional benefits, but running has the most powerful impact on your mental state. If you are a runner, you know the feeling – before your run you may have felt tired or stressed about certain life events, then after your run you feel fantastic!
Our minds are very powerful. Our minds control our thoughts and actions, which can often influence our physical health. Of course running is a great exercise for losing weight and building your cardiovascular health, but it also has benefits to the inner essence of our being. Here’s how:
1) Reduces Stress
Stress is a mental state of mind. No matter how you may hate to admit it or believe it, you do cause your own stress. When you allow the situations in life to affect you internally, you have given power to that particular situation by feeling stress.
Running allows you to focus more on your breathing and the scenery around you. The deep breathing soothes the feelings of fear and/or anxiety that are associated with stress and gives you more energy at the same time too. Running is like a release button to the stress that accumulates in your body.
2) Increases Self-Esteem
Running often is a guaranteed way to slowly build your self esteem. You’ll definitely start feeling the benefits and regardless of whether weight loss is your aim or you just want to feel better, there are bound to be several pluses to putting your trainers on and taking that run!
As you have the energy and endurance to run, it gives you a sense of needing to take care of your body, so you are less likely to eat foods that are not good for you, or partake in any unhealthy behavior. You see the benefits that running gives you, and you have a sense of pride and respect for your body.
3) The feeling of immense freedom!
Running is a great way to feel free – free from all the challenges and obstacles that life sometimes delivers. When you are running, there is a sense of freedom. You can go where you want at the speed you want, and no one and no thoughts can hinder this freedom.
You automatically feel a sense of release from the demanding boss, nagging children, or pushy creditors. Even if for only a moment, you are free and in your own place of silence and calmness that is soothing to both your body and mind. Sometimes it takes physical activity to really quiet our minds – something that is not easy to achieve in modern society.
4) Decreases Depression
When you are running, your brain automatically releases beta endorphins. Beta endorphins are neurotransmitters in the brain that are affected during depression. In depression, the neurotransmitters are not firing properly, and a feeling of overall wellness is decreased.
This is the reason why many feel a “runners’ high” after a run. It is a complete feeling of peacefulness and happiness, as if all the problems of the day have actually disappeared.