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Trail Running

Changing my tune

I’ve had a cold all week, where every day has felt worse than the last.  I’ve been able to keep in good spirits, or at least make jokes, rather than focusing on my suffering.  I’ve been spreading this li’l gem far and wide, as it pretty much sums up the last three days of my life.

Congratulations if you made it past that.  And sorry, humans are gross.

Keeping in good spirits has been a primary focus for me lately.  I’m consciously working to up my mental game and cultivate muscle memory for more difficult times.  Recently, I saw a quote on someone’s social that read  “Art is how we decorate space, music is how we decorate time.”  THIS!  This has been my approach.  I’ve been decorating my morning commute for a while now, but recently it’s gotten exponentially more upbeat.  I used to listen to NPR on the way to work, but this year, I just can’t.  So now I decorate that time with music – I turn the volume to 11 and sing loud and proud for 23 minutes.  I’m sure my enthusiastic in-car activity looks ridiculous to other drivers, but what can I say…  you’ve gotta sing like nobody’s watching.

This might come as a surprise, or not, depending on how long you’ve known me, but while laughter and playfulness have always come naturally to me, optimism for the future has not.  I’ve had to work really hard at it and have often fumbled.  Whether cause or effect, anxiety has long been a part of my life to varying degrees and a primary contributor to this characteristic.  One of the common ways anxiety likes to manifest in my life is in the form of fear that when things are good, at any moment, the rug will get pulled out from underneath me and the bottom will drop out causing my life to spiral down so fast until I’m living in a refrigerator box on the side of the highway.  I used to try to force out those intrusive thoughts, but anyone who has experienced anxiety knows that this only incites more aggressive tactics by the other party.  This is one of the many reasons I turn to the trails.  If you follow me on Instagram, you might notice that I regularly tag my running posts with #anxietyrelief – because that’s what the trails provide.

Not only does trail running burn off some of that reactive energy, it trains my brain to respond in the moment.  Then, when anxious thoughts arise, I am able to pause, identify them as such, and flip my perspective by acknowledging my gratitude, out loud, for all those things that are easily taken for granted.  I’m grateful for the use of all my limbs in order to drive to a job that supports my love for and access to an incredible trail system.  I am grateful for the many privileges I have had along the way, which have brought me to this place.  All of it.  All of it gets acknowledged almost daily.  It makes a difference.

Anxiety is so common, but people are reluctant to talk about it.  It does not make you weak and denying or hiding it only gives it more power.  How does anxiety manifest in your life?  Have you found a positive way to manage it?  I’d love to hear about it!  Comment below or contact me privately and share your story.  Maybe feeling less alone in our struggles will give them less power over our happiness and allow us to more fully experience the joyful moments of our one wild and precious life.  I encourage you to decorate the next few minutes, sing along with the video below, and feel the energy shift within you.

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