5 Steps to Get Moving, Get Mindful and Lift Your Mood

Anxiety, anger, fearfulness, depression ó there are many forms of emotional turmoil that get us down, and just as many forms of therapy to try and help. Some just arenít effective: after a few sessions on the couch, the problems return. Thatís one reason†18.1 million of American adults†are afflicted with anxiety today, and why the U.S. is among the†most depressed countries in the world.

But thereís a highly effective new way to leave our blues behind, called Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT). It combines moving and mindfulness, harnessing the freeing energy of exercise and the healing power of self-awareness.

DRT isnít just for fitness-minded: We donít even have to run to do it. The combination of thought exercises and moving can be done at a walk or a run ó whatever works for each person. As we move, there are plenty of chances to reflect and see how far weíve come. The sense of accomplishment brings with it a newfound energy and confidence, and that, in turn, builds the strength to keep moving ó farther and farther away from emotional pain.

Here are five key steps to get moving, get mindful and lift yourself out of low moods, depression, anxiety and stress:

1. Make room for your feelings. As you move, you will reconnect with feelings you may have hidden deep down. That sensation of ďemotion in motionĒ can be very powerful. So prepare yourself to welcome these feelings, and become aware of them as you move. That way youíll be able to understand them and more easily process them as they emerge.

2. Work at your own pace. Itís not important whether you run or walk, but that you move. DRT can and should be adapted to whatever level of fitness you have. They key is simply to challenge yourself physically to some degree, some of the time. If you struggle with taking a half a mile walk, set that as your first pace. If you love to sprint, go for it. Your goal is to be moving enough where the blood flows a little faster. And you donít need to push yourself too hard, or to maintain the same pace throughout the whole session.

3. Listen to your body. Mindful running isnít complicated or particularly challenging. You are not actively changing anything Ė merely noticing the tone of your inner dialogue and meeting whatever you find there with acceptance and patience, letting it pass on by naturally. It is an open-ended practice, continuing until you decide to stop. As you begin your walk or run, pay attention to what your body is communicating as well: is it slumped with the weight of the world, or is there a spring in your step?

4. Be mindful of your movement.†How you run or walk may indicate how you move in the wider world, such as in your relationships or work life. Are you quick to start but tire rapidly? Do you keep to a consistent pace but just canít let go of it? Do you save it all for a sprint at the finish, and then forget the rest of the run that came before it? Part of mindful movement is understanding and learning what your moving style says about how you address the rest of your life.

5. Donít strive too hard. Mindful movement, whether itís running or walking, is not like conventional exercise. Itís actually important to avoid working too hard. Donít strive: it can create far more stress and anxiety. Donít try to run your first or fastest four miles ever at the same time as youíre also trying to understand your feelings. The key is finding your pace, finding your footing and finding yourself. It will happen on its own if you stay present.

Movement is a part our lives. Itís in our DNA, and itís hardwired into our own behaviors. Returning to that essential state can help us overcome so many emotional hurdles. It gives us a physical context ó a sense of truly passing through time and space ó that make it easier to shift our perspectives, raise our moods and return to a place of hope, energy and possibility. True healing requires both body and mind working in harmony, and thatís best achieved on the move.

William Pullen†is a psychotherapist registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). His interactive and instructive new book,†Running with Mindfulness: Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT) to Improve Low Mood, Anxiety, Stress, and Depression†(Plume, Sept. 2017), works†with†the reader to encourage a sense of confidence while practicing†DRT†and tackling tough emotional issues. Learn more at†dynamicrunningtherapy.com.

Related:
Seniors Should Be Strength Training, And Here’s Why
Scientists Discover How Running Improves Memory
Distance Running: Meditation in Motion

57 comments

Jetana A
Jetana Aabout a month ago

Great ideas! I appreciate that one doesn't have to actually run to benefit. I have experienced the emotion in motion during walks.

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Carl R
Carl Rabout a month ago

thanks!!!!

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Amanda M
Amanda Mcconnelabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda Mcconnelabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing

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Teresa A
Teresa Aabout a month ago

Thank you

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Ruth S
Ruth Sabout a month ago

Thanks.

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Larry McDaniel
Larry McDanielabout a month ago

Thank you

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Janis K
Janis Kabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Bearaabout a month ago

th

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Bearaabout a month ago

I find it very hard to read this because the site has started putting large buttons for other sites across the left bar on top of the text. I never use any of these buttons.

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