In this blog Phil, Activities Co-ordinator at The Maypole Project, talks about running and the benefits to your health not only physical but mental and how running for a good cause can keep you motivated when the going gets tough!
I guess I have run all my life, one way or another. From running round the playground in my junior school to running, tackling and try scoring on a rugby field, there has always been some kind of association to it. In recent years I have really started taking on various different distances from 5k fun runs dressed as Santa and taking on giant inflatable obstacle courses. To some really large extreme distances, the largest of them all being back in 2016 where I ran 184 miles along the Thames over 3 days. All of these runs obviously have, had beneficial health and physical benefits for myself and so have been great at keeping me physically fit and they have always been used to fundraise for The Maypole Project.
But I have only recently started thinking about what running has meant for my mental health. I’ve always found that running, jogging or walking distances has made me very robust and determined and I think a lot of why this is, is because I have had a cause to run for. Having a goal of raising money for such a worthwhile charity, whenever I have taking part in any organised distance runs has really helped me complete them. As whenever the going got tough I would just grit teeth think about the families that The Maypole Project support and families that I have worked with and got my head down stopped moaning and just kept going. Knowing that the funds coming in for the run I was doing would help keep this fantastic support going.
But I think it goes a lot further then that as when I stop to actually think about how I feel when I run and what it does for my mind It’s when I really realise running is my therapy and how I deal with a lot of my emotions from my day. I am lucky to be able to still find the time to run most days and when I am out running I am just fully focussed on that moment in time nothing else really. It’s my time (and as a father to a one year old now) It’s a precious time for me. This has giving me even more of a sense of how precious the time that the Maypole Project support offers our families is. I find that whilst I’m out I de-stress I can leave the office or my home with a face of thunder or grumpy as hell but after any time spent just running I come back calm and distressed (if a little knackered). I find also how that time spent outside breathing in the air taking in the sunshine (if it’s out) can also have a really creative way in the way I’m thinking. And I find that this is really when I am sometimes at my most creative.
Running as a whole has I think really helped me become the person I am now and really shaped the way I am both physically, emotionally and mentally. Running as a sport is not for everyone but there is something out there for everyone to help them cope de-stress and have just a moment of calm and just have a break. It could be Art, it could be dancing. It could be coming and speaking to a therapist or just coming to one of the many support activities that The Maypole Project provide.
Whatever it is it’s hugely important to take a moment to do it.
MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF RUNNING
1. STRESS RELIEVE
Whatever you are stressing about, getting active can significantly reduce this. Putting on your trainers can help with relaxation, anxiety and negative thinking . Running can help your body control stress and deal with existing mental tension. Longer distance runs can give you the time to help solve problems. Whilst shorter distances can really help reduce tension.
Taking part in any physical exercise, whether that is running or another form, can be your new way of counting sheep at night. Moderate exercise can also significantly improve the sleep of insomnia sufferers.
3. DECREASES DEPRESSION
Running can be a fantastic way of combatting that sluggish and withdrawn feeling that is associated with depression. Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. Running can take your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety
4.Boosting Self Esteem
Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being. Exercising outdoors can also result in lowered blood pressure and increased self-esteem.
5. Increased Creativity
Going for a runrun can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. As I’ve mentioned I find running is when I am at my most creative and have my most creative thoughts. Whether it’s thinking on hay to solve a problem or what my next running and fundraising event will be for The Maypole Project. So next time you find your are sitting around waiting for that eureka moment to happen take yourself out for a run.
So if you think that you may want to start up running do it, remember all the benefits your body will enjoy from getting active as well as the mental health benefits as well. And if you feel like you would like to run on behalf of The Maypole Project we have plenty of places in any type of distance and for any ability. Just follow this link to see what places we have.