Stress is quite simply a fact of modern life. It just is. Stress is also one of the reasons so many people start running. Certainly, running can’t limit or end the stress in your life, but it can help you cope with it better.
The very act of running places us in a physically stressful situation. And as runners, we spend a plenty of time either preparing to cope with that stress or recovering from the ravages of it. Stress from running isn’t necessarily a bad thing as we usually rebound quickly from the physical demands that it places on us.
Still, stress is usually viewed as a negative emotion—something we want to avoid as much as we can. But that’s impossible.
Stress simply can’t be avoided. It’s part of the human experience. Because it is, stress can be a very real opportunity to learn valuable life–and running lessons. If we can learn from stress, we can grow as a person and a runner.
Here are positive ways to cope with stress (life and running) and turn it from an anxiety producer into a growth experience:
1. Be aware of stress and don’t attempt to deny it. Stress is everywhere and to deny it is counterproductive. Recognize stressful situations for what they are and accept them.
2. Deal with stress objectively—not emotionally. When you’re placed under stress in any situation, try to think objectively. Try to separate facts from feelings. This will help you cope with stressful situations better.
3. Develop a game plan. Anticipate stressful situations and try to develop a scenario for how you’ll react when one arises. If you aren’t prepared, you will feel greater stress because you won’t know how to react.
4. Collect facts. Once a stressful situation arises, try to collect as many facts and as much information as possible. Knowledge of the situation will give you the confidence to cope with it. In addition, the more information you have at your disposal, the more the situation will be understood and thus, less stressful.
5. Get organized. Always be prepared with a plan which is based on a thoughtful categorization of the facts as you know them. Organizing the facts and processing the information allows you to gain control of the stressful situation and manage it better.
6. Practice stress-reduction techniques. Running is obviously one activity which works to reduce stress, but there are others such as massage, yoga, meditation and controlled breathing. Using one or more of these techniques in stressful situations (or before one), can only help you deal with it better.
7. Be assertive. Rather than laying back and waiting for something to happen, take charge. By being assertive, you can create a situation where you act, rather than just react. This will give you greater control.
8. Go for a run. Lace those shoes up and leave your troubles behind.