Depression & anxiety can often take away your energy, here's how to benefit from a run when you don't feel like it...
I wake up daunted by the day ahead, I’m tired after a night of interrupted sleep as I worry about the tasks on my to-do list. I look at my running clothes in the corner ready to take me outside and I debate just trying to catch another 30 mins. I know however that this will just leave me feeling worse. So I drag myself out of the covers and get dressed.
Within five minutes I’m out in the bracing cold, slowly jogging to warm up. Already my head has switched off to the tasks ahead, I’m just thinking about my body:
How do I feel? Am I a bit stiff? How is my breathing?
I start to look around and see the morning dew, the mist as the sun starts to rise, I listen to the sounds of the early morning birds. My heart is now pumping, I’m feeling good, those ‘feel-good’ hormones are doing their job! I start to feel alive, my body is settling into a rhythm and the feelings of tiredness ebb away. I haven’t got time for a long route today, I’ve got a lot to achieve, but I’m back and I did it!
I congratulate myself and feel quite buzzed as I prepare myself breakfast after my run. Then I get ready to get the kiddies up for school and to tackle the to-do list. I’m so glad I got my running stuff out last night and didn’t miss out on this feeling of wellbeing.
That's what goes through my head when I'm faced with a run on a low/anxious day. Below, I've laid out some tips to help you get out and running when your mental health makes it hard to even get out of bed:
Lay out your running kit the night before.
The more preparation you do when you’re in a motivated mood - the better. Have your gym clothes at the end of your bed, your running shoes by the door, a water bottle in the fridge and your best running playlist/audiobook queued up on your ipod. With everything ready for you in the morning, you only have one thing to do - get up and go!
Plan your route ahead of time.
Fail to plan and you plan to fail. These tips are all about making getting up and running as easy as it can be. One of the biggest things to plan is your route. Find something that is easy to do, public and short for your first few runs (you aren’t going to want to run very far the first few times). *Make sure you let someone know where you’re going and wear something reflective if running near cars.
Create reasonable goals and track your progress.
Having a goal in mind can often be a great motivator, even if it’s something as simple as distance: “today I am going to make it past that tree or that road sign…” Setting yourself an attainable goal and tracking how many runs it takes you to get there can be great for when running seems like a healthy chore.
Find something distracting/motivational to listen to!
There are two types of people - running music people and audiobook/podcast people. Try them both out and see how it affects your speed and endurance. Just need a fast tempo to warm you up, or want a podcast to help you pass the time? Both are great options for a quick run.
Remember why you are running.
Running for the sake of it - its a hard sell. Telling yourself that ‘you are going to run today’ doesn’t exactly motivate you to do it. Now, telling yourself that you are going to ‘feel more energised, less anxious and clearer-headed’ after you run - that’s motivating. Tell yourself your ‘why’ for your morning run and see how much easier you find getting out of bed...
I hope you found these tips useful, exercise can be the best tool for when you're feeling overwhelmed, anxious and depressed. It's a physical release that will benefit both your health and mental wellbeing.
By Bernice Littleboy - Fitness Course Speaker
If you are feeling depressed & anxious, or know someone who is suffering, please check out our local and upcoming courses. They are 100% free and a wonderful support network for those struggling.