Next week on the 10th October is world mental health day. RunTogether team up with Mind to host #runandtalk runs across the country to get people talking about mental health and hopefully remove some of the stigma surrounding it. Its also an opportunity for run leaders to support people experiencing poor mental health to get physically active through exercise. I became a mental health champion for Loves farm runners to help others to #runandtalk as I know the benefits it has had for me.
I wanted to write a blog about my experiences of anxiety. I have written and rewritten this blog post so many times. I was finding it so hard to put my words down and the more I tried the worse it made me feel. This post started off as a bit of an outlet for me but I soon discovered it was not helping me to relive my past experiences with my mental health in any way.
I was talking to my mum about all the things I regret not doing with the girls like having a birthday party for them with their class friends or a play date with other mums, going to baby groups and making new friends all of which she struggled with too. But then she asked me did I feel like I missed out on these things as a child? The answer was no not at all. I can not even remember all these things. It is my anxieties that allow me to worry and think this way but they are perfectly happy children who have lots of friends.
Never look back unless you are planning to go that way!
As a teenager I was always the quiet one at school and a bit of a home bird. I seriously lacked in confidence and self esteem. Just shyness I thought but now as I am older and I look back at my teenage years I think it was likely the start of my now very apparent social anxiety. I’ve always managed to get by and cope with it and until recently it hasn’t really made too much of an impact on my life.
Over the years I developed a very good mask of being this smiley chatty person. I think some will find it so surprising that inside the reality is I’m a mess. I can chat to a camera on instagram but I’ve likely recorded the same speech over and over and sometimes never posted what I’ve wanted to say for fear of people thinking its stupid and boring. It probably is to most people but for me its just my way of working on my confidence and sometimes its my therapy. I haven’t found it very easy recently as I have let my insecurities stop me posting. I’d love to get that confidence back! I need to remember that those that are interested will listen and those that are not can unfollow!
I started this blogging life to share my “health” and fitness journey. What does that mean to you? To me it meant my fitness and nutrition. But as time has gone on I realise my health is far more than what exercise I am doing and what food I am eating. Your mental wellness is equally as important. These things obviously play there part at helping your mental health as do other things. I wanted to share some of them as who knows they may help you as much as they have been helping me.
Getting back to work after I made the decision to take a career break probably had more benefit to my health than I realised. I discovered just how much when I had a set back at the end of the summer. I loved having all the time off to spend with the girls and we had a brilliant summer but the lack of routine had a knock on effect. Also I am lucky to work with a great bunch of ladies who allow me to off load when things are getting on top of me.
The summer did give me the chance to declutter and organise my house. Something that can heighten anxieties. Finding some instagram accounts that helped me to organise and manage my time more efficiently as well as motivate me to tackle the jobs we put off because your so overwhelmed with it all. This has now enabled me to have more free time to run in the mornings guilt free of all the other things I feel I should be doing. The organised mum and the instagram sensation Mrs Hinch.
I have been reading a book called Overcome Social anxiety and shyness. Hopefully by the time this blog goes live I’ll have finished it and be working my way through all the exercises. One thing I have taken from it already is what I discovered when writing this! Going over how anxiety has made you feel in the past isn’t helpful to you moving forward and that the very things we fear are the things we need to bravely do to enable us to discover they are in fact not as scary as our anxieties make us believe.
Having my haircut. Who would have thought something so simple could make me feel like I’d conquered the world. I had left it far too long. Choosing to trim it myself as I found it too hard to book the appointment and then get to the salon. Now I’ve overcome that hurdle it will be regular visits for me. Making time to do things that make you feel good about yourself is so important.
I really enjoy trying new recipes and cooking delicious dinners. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen and I’m hoping I can get back to sharing all my tips and recipes with you all. I have been spending a lot more time writing weekly meal plans and getting back to cooking a variety of meals. Even going as far as writing them down so that I can recreate if they turn out to be liked by us all. A little book of joy to pass down to my girls when they are older. I have a few ideas I am playing around with so watch this space…
Then there is running. It has been in my life for years and not always for the reasons it is now but it was something I enjoyed and felt confident at. I had wanted to join the local running group for a long time before I finally plucked up the courage to go along and see what it was like. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t enjoy it the first time but I knew I needed to give it a chance and I’m so pleased I did. It gave me this new life. A life where anxiety didn’t seem to exist (as much). A new group of friends who didn’t know me from school as the shy one. Someone more confident who had a passion for running. I became a run leader I enjoyed it that much. And that took some courage doing the course as I hate role playing and scenarios. It really took me out of my comfort zone, but I came out the other side. I wanted to be able to help others who may feel like I do. I wanted to be that someone who had empathy for the step they had made joining a running club because it takes a lot of guts to just show up. I get a great buzz at the end of a session if all the runners finish on a runners high.
I love to run with others but I find it equally therapeutic running alone. Especially out in the countryside where all you have for company is the wild life. I love to explore and find new routes. Living in a town with more and more houses being built makes it hard to imagine there is so much green space waiting to be found even in a small town like mine. Its definitely my favourite place to run.
Entering races when your not actually going to be racing also has its benefits. By not racing it I mean not going after a new best time. For me my personal best during a run is to find one that leaves me on a runners high after. One I’ve enjoyed and one that comes with a shiny new medal. And this is usually one I have shared with someone else.
Why exercise helps
- Exercise as therapy: positively changes your mood, greater self esteem, self control and the ability to rise to challenges.
- At peace with nature. Running in open green spaces has been proven to have a positive effect on your mental health. Take your run/walks away from busy residential areas and opt for some peace and quiet of the trails.
- Production of Endorphins the happy hormone.
- Feeling of achievement
- Goals are achievable
I’m learning to take each day as it comes and to not let my worries of tomorrow get in the way of my happiness today. Its a daily battle and its not always easy but I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have running in my life. It has saved me!
If you would like to join a #runandtalk run near you follow this link and put your postcode into the search bar to find a group running their own runs. Ours will be on the 9th and 10th October.