How I Use Running to Beat the January Blues | Expedition Leader Paul
The sparkle of Christmas has faded, and January has trudged in, bringing with it the infamous “January blues.”
But fear not – Expedition Leader Paul is here to help you overcome the post-festive funk this month:
“While there’s no doubt that January can be a gloomy month, I know from personal experience that there are ways to feel better and start gathering momentum for the year ahead. For me, the antidote to low mood and depression is running – a journey that started in 2012 and which has changed my life for the better”.
So, read on for Paul’s tips and advice on how to give January blues the boot (or trainer…) this month, so that you can take the rest of the winter in your stride!
You can also read Paul’s full story about how he used running to combat mental health issues here.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE CHALLENGE
Running in the cold, wet weather isn’t ‘meant’ to be easy, but comfort zones are there to be challenged. By gently nudging ourselves away from the safe, familiar but potentially restrictive routines, we feel accomplished and grow in confidence. So, set a time or date that you will run, and make a promise to yourself that you’ll give it a go.
SOMETHING IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NOTHING
Be kind to yourself. If you find the run tough, try to take it easy (after all, half the battle was making it out the front door…). Listen to your body and ease the pace if needed and / or take walking breaks. Nobody’s judging you.
Head to the parks or woods for a true mental health boost (if this means jumping on a train once a week on a weekend, do it!) These slow, meditative runs are a sacred part of my running routine; they allow me to totally switch off and explore and play in nature. Don’t worry about the pace here – the goal is to enjoy the uplifting-effects of nature.
TRUST THE PROCESS
Sure, you might have some difficult runs where it seems like you’ve made backwards progress (not possible, by the way). Our path to improved mental health and fitness is not linear. So when you have a ‘bad’ run (or day), look back on how far you’ve come and trust that you’re on your way to better things.
Visualisation is a powerful mental tool. Although you may feel silly at first, by simply imagining success or a ‘good’ situation, we can release feel-good hormones and experience positive emotions. For me, I find it helpful to picture lining up at the start line of my next event (feeling proud) and what it will be like to put on the amazing finishers medal (pure elation!)
DON’T FORGET TO STRETCH
The cold weather can take its toll on our muscles and joints, so don’t forget to do a dynamic warm-up before your run (such as lunges and leg swings) and a static stretch at the end. Stretching also reinforces the importance of caring for our bodies. This can have benefits elsewhere in our lives, such as our diets, which can improve mood.
I hope that you found these tips useful, and that you’ll join me as I tackle training for the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run this year. We’re all in this together – lets beat the January Blues and start feeling good again!
Thank you Paul for sharing your personal stories and tips, and we wish you the very best of luck at the event this year.