Since moving to Virginia, I’ve been dealing with severe anxiety. For those of you that know me very well, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. If I were a dictionary, these would be my available definitions:
– control freak
Unfortunately, my anxiety followed me on my runs. Since running is my usual place to sort through stress and worries, I was starting to experience panic attacks while out on the road. I was no longer appreciating the outdoors or talking with Brett during our outings. I was waiting in fear of when it would happen next. At first, this was terrifying. It led to an avoidance of running and our “dark days,” as we like to refer to them, with Papa John’s.
I’m not embarrassed to say that after seeing someone, who I now affectionately call my “life coach,” I’ve slowly started to overcome my worries. It started with focusing on positive subjects instead of negative ones while running with Brett. He helped me laugh and talk about things that made me smile – we spent hours outside talking about future plans and losing track of time. I’ve successfully run with others (including my wild woman weekend consisting of 35 miles), but I haven’t had a long, successful run on my own yet. Sure, I’ve run a mile here with the dog or done a schweaty mess run, but I haven’t been able to handle the “real deal” run on my own just yet.
Here’s the thing about fears: you will never get over them unless you try.
When I got home from work today, I laced up, put my headphones in and took a deep breath. I spent an hour outside getting lost in music by racking up miles. I literally pat myself on the back when I was done. I’m sure I’ll have runs in the future where I struggle and have to deal with my fears, but I got through it. I didn’t let my fear define me.
If any of you deal with anxiety or “letting issues go” at the end of the day, here are a few tips to get through a workout without falling into the pit of negativity.
1) Plan out some positive thoughts. I know this sounds silly, but give it a try. Before running, Brett and I will quickly brainstorm something positive to talk about on our runs. For example, one run we talked about all the things we wanted to do during the summer. On another, we brainstormed new recipes we wanted to try from scratch, etc. I find that when you make positive lists like this, the time flies by.
2) Don’t make excuses. I’m too tired. Whoops, I slept in. I’ll go tomorrow. I have to take the dog out. Well…someone had to make dinner. I was purposely using these excuses (and more embarrassing ones I’d rather not admit, heh) to avoid my fear. Stop making excuses for yourself. You. can. make. time.
3) Do something that makes you happy every day. Whether it be going for a walk or doing something nice for a person you love. Eat your favorite food. Make someone laugh. Go for a run. I find that by adding in something that warms my soul (cheesy, I know), it makes the burdens of the day a little easier.
4) Inspire yourself. Do something that makes you proud of your accomplishments. Swim an extra lap. Sprint the last quarter of a mile. Hit the trails earlier. You’ll be amazed at what a difference a little extra “oomph” can bring to your day. What are you waiting for?