Forget trying to cure your anxiety: try outrunning it

Forget trying to cure your anxiety: try outrunning it

It seems strange for me to talk about anxiety now. A few years ago, I used to write about it with reasonable regularity because it was something that affected me every day. (Clive the Anxiety Monster remains one of our most popular posts, so I recommend you check him out. If you don’t feel like clicking over, basically I named my anxiety Clive and I hated his stupid fucking guts.)

And I connected with a lot of you who also suffer from anxiety. It’s everywhere – affecting how we work, parent, socialise, and live our lives. And knowing we were all in it together was incredibly helpful, but I was also determined to find a way through the panic and the crippling anxiety that affected my life, to a better way of life.

Now, anxiety is something that lives at the back of my head – like a flea – but it’s not something that I think consciously about all that often.

That’s not because I’ve found a magical cure. (Wouldn’t that be nice!) It’s because I have adjusted my life in little ways over the past few years to ensure I proactively manage it. And now I can honestly say I feel mildly anxious maybe a handful of times each month. And when that happens, I handle it quickly and efficiently and then it’s over and I move on.

But I’m constantly aware that it only takes a few weeks of relaxation for Clive to rear his ugly head again and move back into the attic (aka my head). He’s tiny at first, so I barely notice him making himself comfortable. But it doesn’t take long before he takes over my whole world.

So how do I ensure there’s no room at the inn for Clive?

Forget trying to cure your anxiety: try outrunning itI run.

Moving body, still mind.

Clive is an evil motherfucker. He doesn’t want me to feel better. Even now that I’m pretty fit and have even run a marathon, Clive gets into my brain and gives me 47 reasons to not go out and move my body.

Even though I know exercise is exactly what I need to feel good, both physically and mentally, I still have to force myself to go out. At first, when I was forming the habit, it was really tough. I’d tell myself I would walk for 10 minutes and see how I felt. Even that pissed me off. My brain was dragged kicking and screaming out the door – I left the house cursing and grumpy. I’m sure my family were happy to see the back of me – and wishing I’d go for longer.

And then I’d return. Relieved. Happy. Nowhere near free of anxiety, but better than I was. Knowing full well that if I wanted to kick Clive in the groin, this was the way I was going to do it. In little chunks. Every day.

Forget trying to cure your anxiety: try outrunning it
Now, a few years down the track, I don’t question it at all. I wake up, I put on my running gear and I go. Sometimes for an hour, sometimes for much longer (this weekend I’ll be doing a 32km training run – which would have seemed impossible to me three years ago). Here’s what I know for sure: running makes me happy. Moving my body every day keeps Clive at bay and ensures I don’t slip back into that dark place where even going to the shop to buy milk is hard.

I know running isn’t for everyone. For you it might be swimming, or walking, or riding your bike, or yoga. But the thing is, there is something for everyone. Some form of physical activity you can commit to that will help you get on top of those brain monkeys and tell your version of Clive to sit the hell down.

This is what the past few years have taught me about anxiety. You are never cured. You manage it, as best you can, and you keep on managing it for the rest of your life. For me – and countless others too – managing anxiety means moving your body and maintaining a certain level of fitness and health.

Do you deal with anxiety issues? What’s your best tip?

Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.

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