Monday, March 4, 2013

Mental Health

It seems that one of the most frequently asked questions of a runner is "why do you run?" A question posed by both runners and non-runners alike.  For those who don't run it seems to be asked with dismay or even disgust, for fellow runners it seems to be asked as inspiration.  I think for most of us there is a general list of reasons; cardiovascular health, self exploration, fitness, physical appearance, self confidence, competition, pride, mother nature, friendship, demon defense, stress relief and mental wellness.  We all seem to have a unique mix to our own recipe of this concoction that drives us. For me I can say that my recipe is as follows: A heavy dose of mental health and stress relief, 2 parts physical health and well being and a dash of physical appearance, and competition.  I have learned over the years that being physically active is my best source of stress relief and mental well being and overall tolerability.  Which explains my exaggerated irritability this past weekend!
Yep that's me, the short one!
I am a stay-at-home mother of 3 small children (ages 4 and 2(twins)). A job that I realize is light on the impact of its stress. I'm aware that my daily actions and responsibilities will not impact the world or a corporation or shape science or industry.  Generally my impact is localized to my family and children (whom I expect to be the future leaders of our world!) but that doesn't mean that I don't find moments in my day where I feel my stress response kicking in.  Yes, it's usually over something trivial like sticky hand prints on the fridge,  rogue legos or refereeing a tantrum but it still gets my blood boiling to the point that I need a break.  This is where physical fitness, namely running, have become so important to me.  I know when my attitude is turning nasty when my husband asks if I've run lately, it's his innocent way of saying that I need to let off some steam.  Since I've had 3 weeks of stagnation I'm deftly in need of some stress relief.  On Sunday, since he couldn't ask me about going for a run my husband told me I should take a walk.  I knew what he meant and I obligingly took up his offer.  I spent 45 minutes lamely walking, reflecting, deep breathing and just being quiet.  I admit it was helpful but not quite enough.  There is something about falling deaf to the sounds of your own rhythmic heavy breathing, laboring heart and dripping sweat that is cathartic and I miss it.  I plan to head to the gym tomorrow for some easy work on the recumbent cycle and light resistance training.  It won't get my heart thrumming but it will get the blood circulating.  

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