Confessions of An Anxious Runner

Written By: Monica Dilworth

I’m a really sensitive person.

So much so that writing this post made me nervous and afraid. I had so many doubts—would people like would I had to say? Would it just be trite and boring? Basically: Does my voice really matter?

This kind of overwhelmed-by-the-underwhelming-world rigmarole is process I undergo as I try to decide anything from what tea to order to discerning what the true meaning of my life is.

The over-thinking leaves me jittery, breathless, with a painful gnarl underneath my right shoulder just beside the spine. I become dizzy and often disoriented, flopping about as gracefully as a penguin wearing flipflops. My overactive brain disconnects from my body in what they medically call an anxiety attack. I’ve got bruises to prove that I’m a complete Awkwardness Master: bruises on my hips from walking directly into door frames (only when other’s are watching, of course) or scratches on my hands from cutting myself on cans I’m trying to open. I’m the girl that can’t open car doors, unlock anything, drops things at the worst possible moments into the worst possible things (a phone in the toilet, my wallet between a man’s legs.)

So what do I do to get back inside my body?

I run.

I breathe deeply.

I do yoga every damn day.

I make sure that I get outside daily and enjoy the sun, or soak in the rain; that I test my body, that I breathe intentionally and remain centered, that I know that the most important thing in my life is to be and as the unique, clumsy little star shine I am.

Yes, sometimes I cry when I run. Sometimes all the hurt wells up as I chug up some hilly road or wind down a trail. More often, though, I smile with joy over changing leaves and bird songs. Because nature reminds me that all life matters, even if it’s just the tiny life of a squirrel that frequently forgets where she’s buried her stores or how to stay balanced on a branch.

There are days when running hurts and it sucks and I’m slow and I feel like a snail moving through face cream. Other times I’m on top of the world, on my game, running hard, and it feels great. But you know what? Running keeps you humble. It keeps you grounded. And above all, it tests your mental endurance as it challenges your physical. That’s why I run. I run to come into contact with my body, to use my overactive brain in an exercise that keeps its attention focused on one simple goal: one foot in front of the other.

Running is an activity I do for myself. It’s my act of love to my body (because let’s face it, running is great for the figure) but it’s also even better for the mind. Running soothes down the anxious mind, because it reminds my stressed brain: 

only now matters.

And, as the thinker Confucius said, “It does not matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop.”