This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Mizuno. The opinions and text are all mine.
My heart starts to race, I get this awful warm feeling in the pit of my stomach that creeps up from my legs and goes straight to my head. I feel woozy and out of sorts all at the same time. The walls start closing in and I start to feel stuck, almost as if I can't move. My breathing becomes quicker and then my mind starts playing tricks on me. I automatically assume the worst, jump to the highest conclusion and then full-on panic sets in. This is what an anxiety attack feels like for me and this is only a mild version of one. They come on at random and never hit when expected. I could be in the calmest frame of mine one minute and then bam! A full blown panic attack the next. Anxiety is a disease that not many people can put their finger on when they first experience it and then when they do, they typically don't like to talk about it.
It's an uncomfortable topic that makes people feel uneasy and on edge, especially when you struggle with multiple anxiety attacks several times a day like I do. For the longest time, I struggled with these feelings and had no idea what they were. I even had a hard time finding the correct words to describe what was happening to me or why. I wanted reasons, answers, and to find why I struggled with this and why I felt so alone. I still do and although I have yet to find the exact reason why anxiety and panic attacks happen to me, I can now identify what's going on and find the best ways to cope. It isn't always easy and it's never fun, but there are solutions to dealing and coping with anxiety.
One of the best methods I have found that has personally helped me manage and deal with my anxiety is running. Now I know what you are thinking, "Running outdoors on the trails alone with anxiety? How does that help with anxiety? That would make my anxiety worse." Hear me out. Running has saved my life. Running has saved me from multiple panic attacks, worsening symptoms, and has helped keep my mind in an even state when anxious events arise. Running outdoors in the fresh air and nature helps me manage my anxiety symptoms which could be crippling on the days I don't actually run outside. I've outlined my top tips for running with an anxious mindset and how to deal when you start to feel anxious while hitting the trails.
Slather On Those EO's! (Essential Oils)
I keep essentials oils with me all of the time. I keep one in my car, one in my purse, and one in my water pack that I wear on my runs. I buy the lavender roller balls from Amazon and use them constantly. They are a lifesaver for people with anxiety, especially if you opt out of taking medication. Do not diminish the power of essential oils! Essentials oils have been scientifically proven to combat stress, anxiety, upset stomach, swollen lymph nodes, and soothe sore muscles. I have another sneaky trick that works really well when you feel a panic attack coming on. I rub lavender essential oils directly on my nose and under my nose. It works like magic! I also put it on my inner wrists and over my forehead right before I head out on my run. Lavender instantly calms me down and has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
Run With The Right Shoes
Running shoes can make or break a run and if you are not running with the right ones on, you can cause major long-term damage to your muscles, back, and neck which can then cause major anxiety. Did you know a pinched nerve caused by running with the wrong shoes on can cause anxiety? If you are not wearing proper running shoes during your run, you can cause muscles spasms, shin splints, and nerve damage. I was so excited when Mizuno Running asked me to review a pair of their new Wave Rider 21's because I'm always on the hunt for solid running shoes. Running in the Wave Rider 21 is like running on air! I already noticed a difference in how my feet hit the pavement and how my shins feel after my run. I struggle with shin splints because I'm a neutral runner and I run on sandy running trails so I need a decent pair of running shoes that help keep my feet from turning in too much when I run.
The Mizuno Wave Rider 21's do the trick and the colors are beautiful! If you are on the hunt for good running shoes, check these out. When I use to hit the trails in cross-training shoes, my shin splints and back pain would be ten-fold. I would even wake up in the middle of the night feeling anxious from my back pain. I cannot stress enough the importance of proper running shoes.
My best tips for this is to go to a running store and get your run looked at and analyzed by the trainers there. Yes! Most running stores have a trainer on hand whose job it is to analyze your run so they can find out if you're a neutral runner or not and recommend which shoes work best for your stride. Now that I run in proper running shoes, my shin splints have lessened and I don't get as anxious on the trails because I know my feet and body are working properly and in-synch with each other.
Know The Trail
If you run outdoors like I do, you probably love exploring new trails. Don't get me wrong, exploring a new trail is one of my favorite things to do, but it's never something I do alone on the first go-round. I always bring a friend or my hubby the first time on a new trail so that I and Roxy (my doggy running partner) can get well acquainted with the new trail without feeling anxious about not knowing where we are. Having a friend there to mark familiar areas and to seek out the best spots to park the car can be super helpful! Also, mark the trail spots on your phone in your google maps app. Pinning where you are is essential to getting home safe! During the week I run on the same trail daily, and I know it like the back of my hand.
Don't just run wild, pay attention, know your direction, and know your surroundings! Get to know the other people on the trail and pay attention to who run/bikes it weekly so that you can know when something feels off. If something doesn't feel right, get out of there! Run the opposite way and head back to your car. Better safe than sorry!
Bring A Headlamp
While I certainly don't prefer running at night, in the winter time with my busy schedule, it's sometimes the only time I can go running. I always tell my family members where I'm going before I leave and I text them when I arrive and when I finish so they know to hear from me. I then keep my phone in my hand the entire time I'm running, and I wear a headlamp. A bright, huge headlamp that freaks people out when they see it because I look like the glow-in-the-dark fly from that 80's movie, but it works! I can be seen and I can see! I have no issues running the trail in the early evenings with my headlamp on. Being seen is just as important as being able to see. If cyclists can't see you while you are running, you could get injured and it's not good for anyone. Having a headlamp cools my jets because with it I feel less anxious and so does my dog. If I must hit the trails at night, this is the headlamp that's always in my car for easy access. Know your trails. Know your routes, know your area and you are good to go!
Running with anxiety can be hard, but with my tips above it's easily manageable. Running has helped calm me down and lessen my reaction times in stressful situations. When I begin to feel anxious or I've been stuck with anxious feelings all day, running outside in the fresh air instantly calms me down and brings me back to my center. I'm so thankful for having trails near my house and for having easy access to nature. I'm grateful that my mind and body are soothed by running and that running keeps me from going into a tailspin. If you are new to running, try walking every day first and then work your way up to a run.
Little by little, you too will see the long-term benefits from outdoor trail running and how it can combat an anxious mind!
This post is sponsored by Mizuno, as always all opinions and content are my own.