Bell Let’s Talk Day is a great initiative that gets people talking about mental health and the physical part of us that dictates our mood, our motivation, our personality, our decisions and who we are. Our brain. Our brain is the organ that controls our mental health and is so closely tied to our physical health as it is the control centre for our body.
As runners we are perhaps more in tune with the connection between brain and body than others. We often feel how mood or motivation can affect our physical performance and how we are physically can affect our thoughts, emotions and decisions. Brain and body are connected and there must be a healthy balance for best performance. For runners, the mere act of getting outside or on a treadmill to sweat and put in a few miles can help deal with a days’ stress or simply make things feel better. The act of sweating, exerting the body, setting endorphins free, forcing air in and out of the lungs and having an opportunity to be alone with one’s thoughts can be almost a therapeutic experience for some.
Therapy can also be a way to deal with one’s mind and the issues surrounding work, life and love that we all encounter in our lives. Being unhappy with any of these aspects of existence can have a huge impact on one’s desire to run. Runners like to run. Talking with a therapist can allow someone to let out their worries, stress, emotions and help resolve issues over time. Talking with friends or family can often help as well. A few people have put together the connection between running and mental health and suggested that for some, running and talking could be a great combination. They call it Running Therapy. Whether you seek out a professional who can run and talk, you find a friend to talk to on a run or you combine running with therapy sessions
To be the best you whether in life or at the start line, you need to be healthy in mind and body. You go to a doctor, physiotherapist or massage therapist for help with injuries. You need to treat your brain, your mind the same way and look for help and therapy to keep it healthy and working. Sometimes talking, sometimes running, sometimes both can be a healthy approach to keeping things balanced.
Never be afraid to reach out and talk to someone about your mental health. It is the first step to getting back to a healthy you. Running will help keep your body happy and help with your mood and stress.
Advice for runners struggling with mental health.
- Realize the brain and body are connected
- Taking one step can be the key to breaking free
- Reach out to family, friends or professionals
- Treat the mind – therapy
- Treat the body – exercise
- Remember running and therapy are alike – they both take time to show result
There is less and less stigma around mental health and mental illness, as there should be and are many programs out there to help people who are struggling.
Keep talking, keep running.
Noel Paine is a long-time runner, father and has been a mental health advocate after dealing with depression at one point in his life.