Just like in that poem, ‘10 Years Ago,’ I was in a dark place mentally, my sense of hope was crumbling bit by bit as the memories of the past haunted me, it pushed me onto the verge of depression.
Depression, when you lose sense of existence,
Existence feels pointless,
The only things that once brought joy, no longer can you rejoice,
You develop an avoidance toward everything around you,
Everyone’s voices appear to be muted,
The zeal for life becomes diluted,
Reduced moods, only making room for inevitable gloom and nihilistic perspectives,
That prevent you from getting a good night’s rest, as you nestle in bed,
This is the only time you feel warm in the inside…
Any decision you make in life has the ability to either make you or break you for life. Back then, every day was a constant battle to not self-destruct. Now, every day has blossomed into opportunities for self-improvement.
One of the things that has helped me overcome negative thoughts and toxicity was running. Writing is one of my most treasured passions, but running has worked hand-in-hand with it; both creating a strong-willed individual within a broken person until you eventually become unbreakable. Running gave my brain the boost it needed to even have any sort of motivation to even write. Writing has provided a cathartic release that healed me. So, there’s a healthy cycle here of running and writing. Back-to-back. Consistently. I grew to love that runner’s high, and I felt all sorts of inspiration to write.
But can ‘escapism‘ be counterproductive?
Usually, the term escapism refers to a way of escaping from reality due to the hardships you may face. This can grow to become detrimental when we create a pattern of avoidance, which is when we lose our sense of reality. Thus, we may end up with the inability to cope with life, and none of our problems get solved. However, in this post I’m highlighting something else regarding escapism. I’m thinking on terms of using a little dab of escapism by creating new productive and creative outlets to make you rise up from that dreadful idle-mind. More specifically, I’m talking about running, and how beneficial it is, not only for your physical health, but for your mental health as well.
Let’s dive right into this.
What happens when you run?
When you run, plenty of things are happening within you. Your heart quickens its tempo, you may sweat, your lungs are working a bit harder, oxygen is being transported throughout your blood stream, and your natural endorphins, as well as the neurotransmitter serotonin makes its presence known into your mind, which gives you that runner’s high. Essentially, running alters your brain chemistry to liven your mood which can work as a natural antidepressant. (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor by the way). Here’s an article from the healthline website that explains how to naturally boost your serotonin levels without medication.
My personal experience
Running became the highlight of my life, and it even helped improve my writing. This is proof that our mind is the powerhouse of all things we bring into existence through our creative works. For instance, prior to running, my writing was more sad, hopeless, and kind of dark. It only fed me into more negative thinking. And a counterproductive cycle was emerging until I decided to change my habits around Passover of 2012. I began by eating clean, learning more about healthy recipes, and ultimately running. It was like something within me was yearning to just go for a run. And when I made running part of my constant routine I noticed changes taking place. My mind was more at ease, and my writing beautifully evolved into positivity while simultaneously putting the negativity into perspective. Basically, I didn’t just write about doom and gloom; I acknowledged the negativity around me without wallowing in it. I used it to bring forth a positive message that served to be inspiring. Many writers have come to cherish this gift.
As far as running goes, in the beginning, it didn’t matter how long I ran for… what mattered was that I did it. The most important part is to just get started, and little by little you will be able to run miles. Let me tell you that my very first day of running was quite pathetic. I only ran for like one-eighth of a mile. Despite this I decided to try the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) strategy, you can read more about that here. I would sprint for a few seconds, then jog, and then walk, until I was ready to sprint again. This helps get your heart used to the high intensity of running, which gradually enables you to jog for a longer period of time. And it really did help! I went from only being able to run for one-eighth of a mile to 10 miles straight (that’s my best so far). Running is still and always will be one of my greatest joys.
‘Just run like a deer and you will not stumble’,
Abrupt eruptions of rage or tribulations will not faze you,
As you face challenges head on, head-strong without the heat,
Eyes gleaming, dreaming about the prize, but humility is key, no need for the pride of life,
Eyes still full of light, showing signs of innocence,
Noble intent, while looking attentively at end of the finish line, end times…
Track lanes become a trail of travails as the journey unveils wisdom as we run.