Thoughts are pretty powerful. Positive thoughts can lift your mood, be a conduit of good energy for everyone you meet throughout the day, change the world, etc. Negative thoughts are said to be a precursor to disease, anger, fighting, depression… the list goes on. I’d like to be able to say that my thoughts are always positive, but I’m not a saint, an angel, or anywhere near enlightened. I get frustrated and can stew in my own juices just as well as the next person.
I’ve been working on a project that has me examining some pretty painful childhood memories. This week has been particularly intense, and I’ve found myself holding onto routine things that bring me comfort. A cup of tea in the evening before bed. A warm shower in the morning. A cat by my side when I’m writing, and yes, running.
I went out today hoping for a long run, anywhere from eight to ten miles. I wanted to get out of my head and hang out in the great outdoors. I wanted that nirvana feeling, that total endorphin rush, that feeling of being absolutely alive.
I didn’t quite achieve it. The loop I traveled was a new one for me, so I didn’t know the exact distance. It ended up being just shy of 7.5 miles. I wanted to break out of my usual loop and see something new. I ran along the road for a good four miles before being dumped onto a trail for about half a mile. From there, I turned onto a sidewalk and ran the rest of the route next to another busy street. There were little hills here and there, but the biggest detractor was the smell of exhaust and having to look over my shoulder at every block to cross the street. Maybe this is a good loop, but not on a weekday. A Sunday morning would be best for this one, before any cars are out.
I’m home again, freshly showered and in clean, dry clothes. I never got to that peaceful, happy place where my brain hangs out when I’m running sometimes, yet there’s a sense of stability that comes from performing an activity that inherently make me feel better in the long run. I may be frustrated or sad at times, but I’m not picking up a pack of cigarettes to soothe my nervous system. I’m not engaging in risky behaviors (other than running on the road) and even though I’m not especially HAPPY right now, running is a rock that anchors me to the here and now.
This is what I need to remember, so I will put it into words. Engage in behaviors that make you feel GOOD. When things get hard, when you’re depressed, frustrated, stressed or angry, keep doing those things that you already have a tie to. The repetition of the activities that make your body and mind feel GOOD will have a positive effect on the negative moods. Just keep doing them. Over, and over, and over. And remember; this too, shall pass.