The Blog

The Day I Discovered The One Thing That Can Calm My Overthinking Mind

I felt happy. I felt proud. I even smiled to myself (I'm sure much to the amusement of people passing by) while I was running home after an hour of meandering through the streets.

I'm a worrier.

I overthink the most mundane aspects of my life to the extent where I worry about things that have no or very little significance. It'll be as pointless as wondering where the back door key is at 11.30pm, to suddenly panicking whether I've got the confirmation email to my flights for a holiday in six months' time.

The problem I have with it is that I never seem to be able to switch off, and I know full well I'm not the only person who feels this way.

When I've got loads going on I get headaches from constantly stressing over pointless things. Time spent alone often gives me the unwanted opportunity to think about everything I don't need to think about. And if I'm not thinking about anything I worry that there is definitely something I should be thinking about. What a bore it is.

But, and this is a positive but, I've finally found the thing that can give myself a break. A real break - a time when I can be alone and shut off.

I started running. Nothing groundbreaking, I know.

We're always told the benefits of exercise aren't just physical, but I guess you don't really believe it until it happens to you. I took up running a year ago as a hobby, something to keep me fit and to give myself achievable goals outside of my career, and I feel pretty grateful it's become so much more.

This became particularly evident during one very testing day when everything was going wrong.

You know those days?

I had loads to think about, my to-do list was getting longer, my foul mood was making things worse and my temples were practically pulsing out the side of my head that nothing, not even water or coffee, would make it go away.

I didn't even want to go for a run when I finished work. I wanted to go home and get into bed and watch endless episodes of Teen Mom. But I got ready to go out because I needed to (this was during a time I was training for my first half marathon) and I wanted to stop myself from moping.

It was dark, cold and raining so I wrapped myself up warm, put my music on full blast and just started jogging. I was getting soaked at this point FYI.

It took a few minutes for me to relax into it but as I did and started running to the rhythm of my music, all the frustration in my head seemed to dissolve in my body and I began to feel strong. Physically and mentally.

I was running faster than usual. I felt as if my body was pushing me on and taking over, in complete contrast to all the negative and self-deprecating thoughts I had in my head all day.

I cared about the music in my ears and listened to every single word. My mind was also focused on dodging through the crowds outside restaurants, bars and tube stations during rush hour, deciding where to go next. I was confident that I was running well and proud that I could keep on going. I stopped thinking about all the mundane things in my life like not putting my washing on or forgetting to book train tickets. None of that mattered while I was running.

I didn't want to stop so I just kept going and the longer I did, the better I felt.

I felt happy. I felt proud. I even smiled to myself (I'm sure much to the amusement of people passing by) while I was running home after an hour of meandering through the streets.

It's quite a weird sensation to describe but for the first time, I completely understood how a physical activity like running can have a huge impact on how we feel mentally.

The best thing about that run was my headache, which had been hassling me since I woke up at 7am that morning, went within 10 minutes of being outside in the freezing cold.

So instead of tucking myself up in bed and wasting away the evening, I made my day better with something so simple, yet something I'd never turned to as a mood-booster before.

Now when I have a shitty day, my foolproof remedy is a run because I know it will work. And it always does because I go outside with confidence in the fact this will only make me feel better about myself, never worse.

And anyway, when did anyone ever regret going for a run?