Running. The ultimate love hate relationship, especially for yours truly. I have been an on-again off-again runner for quite a few years now. During my heyday, maybe around 12 years ago or so, I got really into running. Never thought of myself as a runner per say, but after I started doing it I found I kind of liked it…and I found I kind of didn’t like it. I have now ran 8 half-marathons and I even have ran one marathon. That’s a lot of miles!
With all of that said, I am very much an all-in or all-out runner. I’m either running most days of the week or I am focused on pizza and chicken wings. Currently my focus is on the latter. I tend to get all-in to running and then I stop for whatever reason and it can be months and months before I get back into it.
Each time I start again, I question myself, “Why did I ever stop?”. I question myself as it is really hard getting back to a level of fitness where you can start to enjoy it again. It takes a lot of work running a mile at first when my goal is to get to 3-5 miles each time I run. The initial part where I am building back up is not fun. My breathing is off. I get sore. My endurance is off so I walk some of my path (walking and running is never a bad thing by the way). I find injuries occur easier when my body is not used to doing something. This initial part of building myself up is not fun and it is not easy. But I do it because I want to get back in shape and lose the pizza/chicken wing part of my gut.
I question myself each and every time I stop, because wouldn’t it be easier to just maintain and keep going versus stopping? The answer I always come back to is “yes”. It would be a lot easier to keep at it versus taking the lazy way out and quitting. After quitting each time it is a lot harder to get back to where I was at first.
I really feel this relates to how we handle our mental health. We need to always be working at improving our mental health even when we feel we don’t need to, as we may feel good at the time. I know my thoughts occasionally drift to, “I’ve been feeling pretty good lately, why don’t I just coast a bit”. Even when I’ve been frustrated with how everything is progressing, there are times I want to quit.
Thankfully, I have gotten to a place where I recognize that if I quit, I will fall back. I do know I don’t want to fall back to where I once was before I started this journey. We will have set backs through all of this. They happen. Our brains are so complex that it is not always easy keeping ourselves on the up and up.
With the setbacks we still have to stay focused and keep working ourselves forward. The setbacks are temporary and, with the work we put in, we will not remain knocked down for long. We always have to keep working on improving and strengthening our mental health. No matter how we feel, good or bad, we always have to keep working on the aspects that bring us happiness. Keep working on the aspects which bring us fulfillment. Keep working on the aspects that make us feel like we are getting somewhere and we are happy with our progress.
I’ve certainly played the “lazy card” through this journey from time to time. I’ve even wanted to quit and I’ve even vocalized the desire to quit. Each time I play the “lazy card”, I can feel myself falling back. Thankfully, I can usually find the motivation to pull myself out of this feeling, but sometimes it can be hard convincing yourself to keep going.
I went through a spell where I was doing everything I had learned from my therapist. I was also adjusting and trying new medicine when I got really frustrated. I didn’t feel like anything was working. Here I am doing everything I can to help myself out and I feel like I’m not improving. Why should I continue on a path where I feel like I am not improving?
All of this takes time. All of this doesn’t just fix itself overnight. It may take awhile to feel the effects of all of your hard work, but keep going! Do not quit. It is OK to take a break and take a breath, but don’t quit. We have to get back on the road and we have to keep working ourselves further down the road.
Even through my lazy spells where I just don’t feel like trying at that time, I can feel the effects of dropping my guard. I can feel myself falling back. I then have to put in additional work to get myself back to where I was.
Imagine quitting. I know it can happen and I know nothing about any of this is easy, but imagine quitting. Or some of you have maybe quit (I know I have had serious thoughts about it and have even quit for a few days or more before I pulled myself back up) and then realized you have to keep plugging along. You have found the road to be more difficult than maybe it was before and had to work harder at getting yourself back to where you were.
My point is, it is always easier to maintain, even our mental health, than it is to stop and start. Even when we get to feeling good, we have to continue working at it. We can’t stop. When we stop we lose that level of mental “fitness” we possessed before and we have to build our minds back up. This takes a lot of hard work and dedication to yourself. All of this can happen, you have not done anything wrong if this has already happened to you. I really am just trying to encourage everyone, including myself, to never let up on yourself. We have to keep putting the work in.
The setbacks can happen, but we can pull ourselves out easier if we have stronger mental “endurance” by doing the work needed, then if we have to basically start from scratch. It takes a while to build back up to the level of mental health we were at, so let’s try and do what it takes to stay there and keep ourselves moving forward.
Again, things can happen. We aren’t always in control of every situation and we can fall back. We can sometimes fall back so far we feel ourselves falling into a hole again. It can happen. You have done nothing wrong. Our brains are a complex machine that can be difficult to figure out and it will occasionally throw you a curve ball you were not ready for, so we have to do what we can to stay strong and ready.
Keep going. Keep doing what you can to maintain and improve your mental “endurance”. Keep going even when you experience a rough day. Tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities. Keep up the good work. Maintaining our mental health is always easier than starting over. None of this is easy, but every bit of work we put into our mental health is absolutely worth it. Why? Because you are worth it! I am worth it!
You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking this journey together!
I hope you have a great day!
Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started. It is a place where everyone can contribute to strengthening each others mental health and a place to lift each other up:
Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
I’ve also started a podcast in hopes that my desire to spread mental health awareness can reach more people.
Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
Also on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon Music, and Pandora
Please check it out and feel free to share it as well.