‘Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.’
Elle Woods was onto something.
It’s no secret that running can bolster your mental health, and is a great form of self-care.
But now, we’re also turning to running as an outlet for when we’re feeling more negative, destructive emotions, such as anger and frustration too.
Known as a ‘rage run’, experts say it’s a great way to manage negative emotions.
And when that anger builds up, you can literally blow off steam by pulling on those running shoes and taking off for a run.
Ben Parker, head coach at Runna, said: ‘When trying to understand negative emotions, you shouldn’t discount exercise as a great way to process how you feel.
‘There are numerous reasons why running can help and it often serves as a much healthier coping mechanism than other more common, self-destructive strategies.’
Reduce stress through release
We’ve heard of endorphins, but what actually are they?
Ben said: ‘Endorphins are feel-good neurotransmitters which our brains release after an intense period of exercise, triggering a short, euphoric boost known colloquially as the “runner’s high”.
‘Endorphins also reduce stress and relieve pain, improving your overall sense of wellbeing.
‘It only takes 30 minutes for endorphins to be released, which should cover two-to-six miles depending on your running ability.’
Optimise your workplace efficiency
With so many of us still working from home, which can be frustrating in itself, running can help to balance this.
‘If you’ve spent the first half of your working day building up anger, frustration and stress, going for a run on your lunch break – if possible – can boost your efficiency and happiness in the workplace,’ said Ben.
‘Granted, it’s likely only a mid-day option if your work is mostly remote or hybrid during the week, but running before work can also set you up really well for the day.’
Run away from feelings of isolation
It might be surprising to learn that running can help with loneliness.
Ben said: ‘Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, feelings of isolation and loneliness were a huge struggle for many.
‘Research from non-profit charity Better revealed running and/or walking outdoors is one of the most popular remedies for reducing feelings of anxiousness and loneliness, beaten only by listening to music, reading and socialising with family and friends.’
Increase serotonin to help prevent anger
Rage running can also prevent feelings of anger coming up in the first place.
‘While serotonin is more closely associated with looking at cute pictures of cats on the internet, aerobic exercise such as running is another way to boost your serotonin levels and help take a preventative approach against anger,’ said Ben.
‘Serotonin has a “prophylactic effect” on anger, as well as helping to regulate body temperature, hunger, sexual behaviour and sleep – adding to the long list of reasons why running is great for your mental and physical health.’
You can incorporate CBT
Running with a partner is also a good opportunity to share the weight of your feelings.
‘You can tweak your run to get the most out of it by adopting elements of cognitive behavioural therapy,’ said Ben.
‘If you have a running partner, discuss what’s on your mind while running.
‘Alternatively, if you run on your own, incorporate self-talk between running breaths.
‘Words of positive affirmation can be incredibly beneficial and talking about your feelings can help reframe your thoughts and put things into perspective.’
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