by Nemanja Marinkoff
There comes a time in every person’s life when they can no longer cope with all the daily stress. A boss that’s harassing you, a sick child or a marital problem are all causes enough for us to crawl back into our shells. We start disrupting or daily habits and exercising takes a hit. People who suffer from depression caused by stress tend to stop running, even though the used to jog every Sunday in the park. However, once the blues set in, the worst possible action is to stop running and here is why.
Fighting off stress
Although we are all, unfortunately, familiar with stress, it comes in two very different forms. Firstly, there is acute stress that takes hold of us all of a sudden but luckily, it doesn’t linger long. An example of acute stress would be the passing away of a close member of the family.
Secondly, we have long-term stress that leaves far deeper traces in our psyche. A boss that is harassing you day after day at work is an excellent example of long-term stress. Contrary to popular belief, stress affects the body just as much as the mind. Your brain, heart, lungs, and the whole immune system are at risk when exposed to stress, regardless of its intensity and duration.
After a while, a stressful lifestyle will start taking its toll in the form of various illnesses, like arthritis or obesity. This is where running comes into play as its health benefits precisely target health issues caused by stress. In addition, if you continue to run through the dark minutes, days, and hours in your life, you will have an excellent mental distraction from everything that’s eating you up from the inside.
Furthermore, running is not an exclusively solitary activity. Yes, there are those of us who like to run on their own but there is really no good reason why we should run alone. Some people are untrustworthy and not serious about running, admittedly, but you can always buddy up with other people who take their running seriously.
A jog through the park will be much more than that if you decide to run in a duo. You can talk with them during the breaks and perhaps share with them what is troubling you. Since you’re comrades in sports, they are more likely to listen to your woes and provide you with psychosocial support you so desperately need.
After all, the Internet is full of articles on how to help a friend who is fighting depression and for a good reason. Psychotherapists recommend that you surround yourself with people who care for you because meaningful social interaction can help drive the sombre thoughts away.
Attention to detail
Another advantage running has over other sports is the fact that it’s relatively cheap to practice, sort to say. The gear you require is pretty basic and it consists of a pair of good running shoes and a couple of high-tech gizmos (learn more about these on Walk Jog Run where you’ll find extra tips for modern runners). However, just because running apparel is affordable and easy to come by, that doesn’t mean it’s oversimplified.
You still need to create a time window in your schedule for running, call a friend to see if they’re available, set the watch, etc. All these seemingly small steps are actually details that require focus. By setting your mind on running, you are more likely to forget about the stress of daily life. After a while, the whole running ritual becomes something to look forward to and acts as a mental reward in itself. The whole mechanism functions much like it when you were a kid: if you do your homework, you get to play outside.
Although you’re the one setting the pace, quite literally, running can still be challenging. If you run 5 kilometres today, you might want to run an extra half a kilometre tomorrow. Such goal-setting gives you a sense of purpose that is enough to get you out of bed during the most stressful of times. As a result, you will feel more motivated in life as well. The most important mental mechanism for combating stress is the sense of purposefulness that running is ideal for the strengthening of. In a sense, maintaining your jogging routine will act as a lifeline when you are feeling down or even worse, contemplating suicide.
All in all, running has more upsides than downsides when it comes to general health. Apart from the obvious befits for your physical health, running will help you keep your thoughts straight. By having someone to chat with while running and by focusing ion running goals, you are actually relieving all forms of stress. The next time you are feeling down, grab a pair of sneakers and hit the park, you won’t regret it!
Nemanja Marinkoff is editor-in-chief and TheGearHunt and WalkJogRun. He’s a marketing expert, and he’s interested in all things related to basketball. He also loves marzipan, although his wife hates it. You can find him on Twitter.