You feel sad, do not get anything done and feel totally listless. Maintaining friendships is difficult, even getting the trash out can be already too much. You visit a therapist, the conversations are good and it helps. However, it does not get you moving.

Your therapist tells you to start running. And although it might be good for you in the far future, right now you do not feel like it at all. ‘Running? I cannot do that! Even going to the shops is too hard for me!’ ‘I look so weird when I run.’ ‘I drink and smoke too much to run.’ And so on, and so on. Totally understandable. However, in this blog post I am going to convince you that it can help you. Really!

Running therapist
Last year I started Run Free Groningen, my running therapy company (link: www.runfreegroningen.nl). The goal of running therapy is to use running to reduce depression or burnout complaints. I already worked as a coach for people with stress or depression complaints, but it was mostly focused on talking. I wanted my coaching to be more practical. I experienced that running (and exercise in general) helps to clear my head. I am sensitive for burnout, stress and (winter) depression myself. I used to feel sad, without even knowing why. But when I started running and successfully hold onto it, I realised that I did not only get physically stronger, also my mental health strengthened. I felt better, free and stable! And because of this, I started to help other people too.

Why does it help?
Running and exercise will help you on three levels: psychological, biological and physical.

Psychological:
It strengthens your self esteem; you can be proud of yourself for going outside and doing exercise. If you do it multiple times, you can start pushing your boundaries.

Next to that, you shall notice that you will have less space in your head for worrying. You will feel like you are clearing your mind.

Biological:
Working out and exercising produces hormones that will make you feel better, like endorphin. It is like a natural medicine. If you start running more often, you will notice that those hormones do not only get produced during, but also after you run.

Physical:
Your fitness level increases, you get stronger and you will feel better: the physical effects of running. This feels great! It brings extra motivation and self confidence.

And you can do it too!
Right now you might think: ‘nice, but I cannot run.’ But I am sure that you can (If you are physically healthy and do not have any injuries).
Everybody who starts the journey thinks it is scary. However, everybody goes home happy and satisfied, really!

Do you want to try it by yourself? These are some tips:
1. Start at the start, your start. Do not start running for half an hour like your life depends on it. You will get injuries if you start off too fast. Your body needs to adjust to the movements. Also the chance of failing is bigger when you start off too fast. Run slowly and walk in between. Download a beginners plan on the internet and do not go into the distance yet.
2. Again: run slowly! I will tell you again, because I notice that people often find it difficult. When people think of running, they think of sprinting. But you do not have to sprint! The longer you train, the faster you get.
3. Ask for help. A running therapist can help you along the way and has a lot of experience and knowledge about running and depression. You learn how to breathe well and several techniques that help you to hold on longer. Also it will give you the motivation to actually go.  After awhile, you can get started by yourself.
4. Run together with a friend. It is more fun and you can motivate each other. Make sure you are on the same level, otherwise you will still go ahead of yourself.

Share this post! If this post was insightful for you, share it with your loved ones so that they can better understand what you are going through.
Deel dit artikel! Als dit artikel voor jou inzichtelijk was, deel het dan met je omgeving - laten we het samen hebben over mentale gezondheid.

Goudje

Running therapist / Work- and Organization psychologist. Founder of Run Free Groningen (link: www.runfreegroningen.nl) I use running as a treatment method for depression and burn-out. With my blog I want to inspire you to also exercise, especially for your mental health. I like sports, but also traveling, wine and good food.

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