How Running Helped With My Anxiety

Ever since I was a small child I've had anxiety off and on. When things are going smoothly I feel great but when the bumps in the road come, as they do in life, they bring up a lot of anxiety and stress. For me, the anxiety feels like tightness in my chest, irritability, defensiveness, and a general restricted feeling. Often it comes on slowly and is something I can find my way out of by doing some yoga, lifting weights, talking to a friend or spending some time in nature. There are times that the anxiety keeps building though, and when I started running I learned how to cope with it in a different way.

 

I usually run about once a week now to supplement my strength training, yoga and dancing. What I learned is that as I run I naturally find my breath and slow it, I keep my inhales and exhales long and steady. My heart rate is elevated but my mind is calm. Now when I feel that anxious feeling creeping in, my heart rate starts to increase and my breathing becomes shallow I've learned how to lengthen my inhales and exhales to ride out the wave. Instead of becoming consumed by the fact that I'm experiencing anxiety and trying to get myself out of it I just sit with it and breath. I won't say that my anxiety is gone but I will say I don't mind it so much anymore. I think I found a way to love that part of me and let it be.