Although I do not suffer with a severe mental health illness, I do have a tendency to overthink, stress and become anxiously caught up in my own thoughts. According to Anxiety UK, 1 in 10 young people experience a mental health disorder, with anxiety and depression being the most common mental health difficulties. Like most students, my anxiety first surfaced with the stresses of university and my final year was spent in a slight turmoil of a pressure to succeed and a consequent anxiety of failing. These feelings were completely self-induced, and to most people my grades would have indicated nothing worth stressing over; none-the-less, the anxiety was there.
It is at this time that I began a rather rigorous training programme for a half marathon, waking early and heading out on a run before then spending the day in the studio working on my degree. Perhaps it was the feeling of accomplishment that would come from managing to progress with my distance and stamina on these runs, or maybe it was simply that I had managed to get out of my head and move my body, but these runs offered a moment of silence from the anxious tightness that had begun to sit in my chest.
At one of the most stressful times I have experienced in my life so far, running offered a gateway to softening my anxiety and it is for that reason that I have made an effort to keep it up in the years that have followed. Mental health is very much a matter of peaks and troughs, with the unexplainable days where everything seems a little out of sync taking a little more work than usual. It is on those days, the days where I don’t really want to have a shower much less pull on my trainers and run, that I know I need it most. I return home, distracted by forty-five minutes spent simply moving and listening to a podcast.