Running into Happiness

“I feel like I’m walking through mud. I have no motivation to do things I once loved doing. I feel alone, like no one understands me. I can’t shake this. It just isn’t me.”

“I feel like my heart is racing. I overthink everything AND then I overthink that I am overthinking. I get completely stuck in my thoughts – they overwhelm me. I feel like I can’t shake it. It just isn’t me.”

“My thoughts are consumed by my addiction. I don’t want to use, but just find myself there, in the exact place I work everyday to avoid. I feel alone, like no one understands me. I feel like I can’t shake it. Why does this have to be me?”

“There is this weight. Something that I can’t explain, something that feels suffocating. I flashback to past life experiences, and it’s like they are real. I push them back down and keep putting one foot in front of the other, but I can’t shake it. Why does this have to be me?”

Does any of this sound familiar? These are things I often hear from clients and things I’ve personally struggled with in the past. Things that have been brought to life through each of our own personal journeys, and recently in a profound way as a nation through the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. These unprecedented times forced and provided an opportunity for us to learn how to expand on our idea of comfort and personal strength in so many ways. We have been riding a wave – one minute up, while the next minute being thrown around in a tidal wave. We’re pushing through life, but we must still put one foot in front of the other.

As I sit here – planning an event to help build awareness for mental health, I think about my own personal mental wellness journey and the impact that putting one foot in front of the other – LITERALLY– has had on my personal life.

Running – the act of putting one front in front of the other. The act of moving forward. Running isn’t easy. It wasn’t made to be easy. Running at its earliest stages was required for news to travel to military forces. The very first person to run a “Marathon” did so to deliver news of a military victory against the Persian forces at the Battle of Marathon. A soldier ran roughly 25 miles to deliver this news, but once he arrived he keeled over and died immediately after. I say again, running was not made to be easy. Running was something that just had to be done – to survive. As running developed, people realized that our bodies adapt. We are capable of doing difficult things; it’s usually our mind that limits our capacity. However, we know that people became faster, they ran farther, and they ran harder. As a result, people realized they can be stronger, they can push pass being uncomfortable, they can grow.

This idea of being stronger, pushing pass being uncomfortable, and growing is what makes people (and myself) mentally stronger. Being able to handle challenging times and difficult situations provides an opportunity for you to develop mental strength through perseverance. Teaching yourself to push through your physical exhaustion by walking to the next stop sign or running that extra mile directly correlates with being able to push through mentally challenging tasks, like the feelings of not being motivated to get out of bed or the feeling of loneliness. Each time we fight those uncomfortable hard feelings, we grow. We have the capacity to change for the better, to improve our mindset and mental stability.

Much like running, growing is not comfortable. I challenge you to step into being uncomfortable, step into the unknown and push yourself to grow. Step one can be simple – signing up for our 5k. Going online and signing up for a 5k can be considered simple. By signing up, you’re committing yourself to change and growth by stepping into the uncomfortable. The next step is training – maybe it starts with walking around the block or running for 1 minute; that’s growth! You can do this. You are strong. Just take the first step – help us raise awareness for mental health while taking steps to a stronger, mentally and physically healthier you.

Don’t close your phone, iPad or computer without taking the next step: sign up now!

See you in September for our virtual 5k! We can’t wait to see your pictures and videos as we spread mental health awareness throughout our city!

Olivia serves as the Group Coordinator at Beacon of Hope. She graduated from Grand Valley State University with a BS in health professions, with a minor in psychology, and holds an MS in Clinical Psychology with a Specialization in Counseling from Walden University. Olivia started at Beacon of Hope as an intern in 2017 and began serving as our Group Coordinator in 2019. Olivia works with a variety of clients, but has a passion for individuals who are court mandated to counseling and adolescents. Olivia and her husband currently live in West Michigan with their dog. She is an avid runner, but also enjoys doing a variety of outdoor activities: camping, gardening, hiking, biking, and playing on different recreation leagues.

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