With races cancelled and running in groups discouraged, how can runners maintain good mental health?
Day 4 of social distancing and we’re feeling the frustration: missing parkrun, longing for our running groups and aching to get our racing shoes on. Things are all feeling a bit scary and it certainly doesn’t help that we’ve lost some of our primary outlets for dealing with stress and anxiety. As runners we tend to be well aware of our physical health, but let’s use this time to take care of our minds as well.
Food doesn’t solve everything, but it certainly does help. Our nutrition has a huge effect on both our physical bodies and our minds. A Mediterranean diet, for example, is packed full of vegetables, fish, grains and olive oil – all brilliant for your brain. Studies have even shown that diets like this can lead to a reduction in depression – read more about this here.
Minimise screen time
Social media has become a constant stream of coronavirus news in the last few weeks and it can be exhausting. While it’s important to stay informed, you don’t need to read 30 different news stories with equally terrifying headlines every day. Limit your social media time, particularly just before bed and as soon as you wake up in the morning and, hopefully, you’ll feel a little less anxious. Pick up a book instead – Bella Mackie’s Jog On is brilliant.
Get some sleep
While we’re on the topic of screen time – put your phone down before bed! Sleep and mental health can be a vicious cycle – poor mental health can disturb your sleep pattern and lack of sleep can affect your mind. Sleep gives you an opportunity to process strong emotions and is vital for re-setting after a stressful day. If you struggle with sleep, make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature, have a nice hot bath and turn your phone off a few hours before bed.
Try yoga or meditation
Yoga is a fantastic indoor activity that gives you an endorphin rush and helps to connect the mind and body. Take some time to stretch – you might end up finding some niggles that you’ve been ignoring on your runs. It can also be a brilliant way to meditate and rid your mind of stressful thoughts. You can find tutorials online for free – this is our favourite channel.
Social distancing needs a rebrand – just because we’re being asked to maintain physical distance from other people right now doesn’t mean we can’t be social. Call a friend and talk, make some future plans with a running buddy or, if you’re struggling, give your local Mind a ring. These are unprecedented times and we shouldn’t feel ashamed of talking about our feelings.
Go for a run!
It’s an obvious one! Running is brilliant for our mental health. “In the current situation, finding ways to maintain your normal routine is essential to reducing stress and potential depressive thoughts that may appear,” says clinical psychologist Daniel Mansson. Don’t give up on your running – take some time to yourself and go for a run in a quiet area, away from the hustle and bustle.