“...Hey, feeling good, like I should…Went and took a walk around the neighbourhood …Feeling blessed…Never stressed...” (Sunday Best - Surfaces)
This issue is mental health, and it was one of the reasons why I started to run straight after lockdown was lifted. (When I say mental health, I really am talking about my mindset because our mindset is the foundation of our mental health. This is NOT a call for help. I am NOT suffering from any form of mental illness. It was just that I was not happy with how my mindset had developed over lockdown).
I am no psychologist, but I believe that humans respond to times of uncertainty by fooling themselves and creating an illusion of certainty for them to take advantage of so that they can feel in control. With this innate response, further combined with quarantine, I fell into a repetitive, monotonous daily cycle that was not healthy for my mind and body. At the peak of lockdown, I was well in my comfort zone with no desire to drag myself out.
So how did I manage to break out of this cycle?
I think what I am about to say here is different for everyone. Personally, and without going too much into detail, I think that my stressor occurred to me when my sense of comfort and stability disappeared. Essentially, I experienced an event in which a large part of what made up my comfort zone was suddenly taken away during lockdown, and because of this it propelled me to redefine myself into a version that is more adventurous, lively and positive, and for me running was the common denominator that I associated with those three traits. Sports in general has had an enormous impact on my upbringing, it has brought me plenty of nostalgic memories, experiences that I cherish, and essentially all those cliche scenarios in how something you hold very dear to yourself “changes and shapes who you are today.” But I think my view of sports now as a college student compared to my high-school self has changed drastically. As a high-school student who took part in a variety of sports, my main goal was always to win, in the sense of winning in a competitive environment; I would spend all academic year training for competitions. But now, as a college student who is working on a degree that has nothing to do with sports, I did feel lost. My competitive nature slowly faded and I lost interest in many of the sports I competed in, this behaviour constituted one of the many facets of my comfort zone. And yet again, it was not until this
pandemic and lockdown in which my comfort zone was greatly altered that made me view and shift my perspective on the purpose of taking part in sports. I decided to run, not for competitive reasons, but rather as an activity or a hobby that I can always turn to when I am feeling lost, or in need of mood booster. Recreational running has greatly improved my mental health and physical wellbeing. When we take part in any form of strenuous exercise, our body releases endorphins which are chemicals that react with our brain that brings a sense of happiness and positivity, as well as a stress reliever. Runner’s have a term for this called “Runner’s High” which is essentially a state of euphoria in which you have low levels of anxiety and you are less receptive to pain (muscular pain from all the running), and this “feel good” factor greatly improved my mental health.
So one of the major reasons why I run is to improve my mental health, to have a more positive mindset and positive outlook on the everyday challenges I face. With this of course, physical health will improve as well. But there are also other reasons as to why I decided to run, reasons that are more generic and not too involved with my mind or body, but still I believe are interesting.
1. The freedom to roam.
2. A chance to see things from a different point of view.
3. Exploring new places.
“Starting is the hardest part, and the rest will follow.”