When I stopped here on my sunrise jog this morning, I didn’t know that today is World Mental Health Day. I stood to take this photo thinking that it hadn’t been a daft idea after all to set up this blog (this is only Day 2!) because this was a moment worth sharing.
My snapshot is a very poor substitute for the reality of being outside in the freshness of dawn and being present to witness a moment that only a few others will see today.
I’m fortunate not to currently be one of the 25% of people (at a minimum) who are struggling with mental health issues, however I know I’ve benefitted enormously from a habit of morning running. I’ve been running only for a couple of years, and I haven’t always managed to stick to my routine, but the difference to my outlook and energy is immeasurable.
There is no shortage of evidence on the benefits of running on mental health. This document from the Mental Health Foundation answers some useful questions: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/content/assets/PDF/publications/up_running.pdf. And a quick search will turn up lots of examples of people who credit running with having helped them through a period of depression.
I think there is a particular benefit to getting out and running in the morning. It takes a while to get accustomed to early morning exercise (I always forget how wiped out I’ll feel to begin with!) but once I do, I find I’m brighter and more energetic during the day, and I sleep better at night. There’s no time to lie awake worrying about what might happen today.
Routine is key, and I also think it’s much easier to stick to a morning routine. Your time first thing is more likely to be yours, before anything else can stake a claim on it.
It’s hard but it’s worth it, and you won’t be alone!