By default, I’m an anxious human. When not in check, my subconscious mind has the ability to get the best of me. And if I’m not careful—I’m in deep before I even realize. At that point, it can be a steep uphill climb to move beyond the bundle of nervous energy that has come crashing down on me.
For those (millions) of us living with anxiety, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing. That said, anxiety is something that we must live with and manage so it doesn’t cause our bodies harm, or have a negative impact on our relationships (with ourselves or others).
Although some seasons of my life are more anxiety-ridden than others, the following methods and activities help me cope and live with a clearer mind regardless of what is happening externally.
There are a number of reasons I love running, but one benefit of running that oftentimes goes unrecognized is its stress-relieving properties. When I start my day running, it sets the tone for the whole day—clear mind, energized body, focused spirit. This is true for every single run, whether it’s a strong 10 mile training run that’s invigorating and empowering, or a 2 mile shuffle that’s so miserable I can barely keep my feet moving. When I follow up my work day with a run, it’s a similar scenario. A post-work run allows me to reset my brain and shift my attention away from work before the evening begins. No matter how intense, or what time of day, running provides me with instant decompression and gratification. It gets the blood flowing, not only to my brain, but to each and every part of my body.
TIP: If you hate running, try another aerobic activity. What do I mean by aerobic? I mean cardiovascular exercise, be it biking, hiking, swimming, dancing, or even simply taking a speedy walk with your dog— anything to get your body moving, oxygen flowing, and your heart rate up. I find that getting my heart rate up while exercising helps me have a lower resting heart rate, which also means my body is less likely to store up nervous energy to be released in a negative way.
Reality—we all exist within the confines of complex human bodies. Regardless of shape or size, we are all comprised of bones, flesh, blood, and teeth.
While our spirits may be infinite, we rely on these physical forms to carry us throughout our daily activities. To keep our bodies functioning at their best, it is up to us to feed ourselves what we need to thrive and heal, rather than merely survive, or breakdown. This is my ultimate motivation and drive for supplying my body with plant-based food that is as close to its natural form as possible.
Going vegan at the start of my 20s, coupled with a move toward mindfulness and reevaluating my relationship with food, turned my life around for the better. Still, I am not here to say choosing to eat only plants is a magical shield, nor am I wearing some sort of invincibility cloak. The truth is, everyone gets worn down sometimes.
Even us vegans get sick.
I am not what you would call a melon person. Yes, I said it. I hesitate ordering fruit salad as a side item when dining out because I know there is a 90 percent chance that it will be packed with honeydew or cantaloupe that is void of all color and freshness. Maybe some soggy pineapple if I’m lucky. While I’ll never appreciate melons that have become void of all color and taste, I’m slowly but surely growing to develop a liking for fresh melons, starting with one I already enjoy in small doses—watermelon. Although as a kid my watermelon intake was limited to pool parties, I’ve since learned to enjoy watermelon in cocktails and smoothies.
During the early part of this year, when I first started marathon training, I found myself struggling with proper fueling. Although at that point in time I had just kicked off my perfect oatmeal morning ritual, I had yet to develop a consistent regime for fueling before, during, or after runs.
Sure, I was drinking a reasonable amount of water, but I wasn’t taking any extra measures to replace electrolytes. As things heated up and the marathon rapidly approached, I found myself ending my long runs covered in salt, and feeling dehydrated and spent. Once I reached that point, no amount of water could revive me. Like many, I knew I could and should be fueling better, but I wasn’t taking the necessary strides.
With the arrival of June has come getting back to some consistency within the running realm. I must say, the month of May was all over the place after taking a solid 10 days off of running immediately following the marathon. Then, just as I was getting back into some sort of swing, Hangout Fest and Memorial Day weekends happened back to back, and meanwhile the weather heated up tremendously.
If you are looking for something to make you feel even hotter when it’s already 90 degrees out, just go for a run on an asphalt track.