The new year has gotten off to a shaky start for me and some of my dearest and, in the past few weeks, there have been some dark days.
Surprisingly, what has brought me the most comfort (more than commiserating with others and more than drowning my sorrows in food, my usual go-tos when I’m feeling down) is exercise- specifically running.
When I run, I can be alone with my thoughts. I have time to process how I feel without being interrupted by a task at work or worrying that something I might say or do will have an effect on another person’s feelings. I can be totally alone with my thoughts.
And if I don’t want to think, if all I want to do is simply exist in the moment, I turn up my headphones, move a little faster, and lean into the experience. I hear the loud music in my ears, squint at the sweat burning my eyes, feel the warm sun on my arms and the pain in my knees; I can just be someone who is, despite all of the things that I cannot control, in control for that moment in time.
Of all the health benefits of exercise, I think the mental ones are the most important for me. Sure, they are the backstage benefits that nobody but me really notices, but I take great comfort in having a routine, taking time to focus only on self-improvement and listening to my body’s needs, and being tired enough at the end of every day to sleep soundly.