Mental Health, Trail Running and Me:

Why I run.

I was born to run. As a child if I could run somewhere, I ran. I was especially inspired to run when on country paths, up leafy lanes, across jagged cliff pathways. Walking was not an option for me.

I still love to run and here is why:

(Photo courtesy of Derek Spear; Location Craig Gwladys, Llangatwg, Castedd Nedd, South Wales)

Fairy’s Place

This photograph was taken by my occasional running pal out on a recent chilly Sunday morning run. After a steep, muddy, and breathless (for me) climb up the mountain we ran along a rugged, rocky trail. Along the way I was enchanted by the various fairy doorways painted by local children and fixed to some of the trees.

To my left trees climbed higher along the mountain side, their autumn colours radiating and reflecting in the frosty morning winter sun. To my right the valley was covered by a magical sea of early morning mist.

This breath-taking beautiful vista is worth the climb!

Anxiety and depression are something I have experienced in the past to varying degrees, the worst episode resulting in not sleeping for an entire week to the occasional flutter somewhere between my chest and stomach. Depression and low feelings a heavy thud in my throat and the pit of my abdomen.

Anxiety is the result of the survival mechanism triggered when we perceive danger, the Fight, Flight and Freeze response. Our brain signals the release of adrenalin and cortisol into our body. Allowing us to fight or escape the danger and when overwhelmed, we freeze. Trail running and nature (for me) however any form of exercise/contact with nature helps our brain switch off the FFF response:

  • Releases feel good endorphins into my body enhancing a sense of feeling good.
  • Focuses my mind in the moment (Especially when running up hill)!
  • Increases my confidence and feeling of wellbeing.
  • Nature is my best friend. I feel connected to the world. This enhances my happiness.
  • Nature is always there for me listening, never judging, holding and safe.

American architect and educator wrote:

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature, it will never fail you”.

The Positive Effects Of Nature On Your Mental Well-Being (positivepsychology.com)

Trail running sound too much of an effort?

No problem! walking, cycling, dancing, or yoga outdoors in nature is just as healing. Even sitting by a window looking out onto a natural view or a few houseplants can enhance wellbeing:

“Researchers reported that workers who were close to natural views had fewer illnesses and headaches (Kaplan and Kaplan, 1989). Nature could be looked at as a therapy which has no side effects. For people working in office, indoor plants can improve the air quality of office and improve the productivity in office environment (Randall et al., 1992) The positive effects of nature on people (ukessays.com).

My connection with nature inspired me to offer counselling and nature therapy as part of my wellbeing service. My clients who engage with nature have reported quicker more powerful results:

After only four Walk n Talk sessions, Ffion was able to make sense of her anger and find more healthy ways to deal with it, “Since coming to counselling I see things from different perspectives…. I can recognise when I am getting angry and deal with it in a healthy and positive way…

“I found Walk and Talk Counselling relaxing and calming …” Eleri explains…

Offering gentle walks through beautiful local countryside, taken at your own pace allowing you to explore issues, learn coping strategies for anxiety, anger, trauma and more.

For further information on Walk & Talk Counselling and Nature Therapy please email lornakj@tri-unitywellness.co.uk or visit www.tri-unitywellness.co.uk