“Many runners—myself included—report that logging miles helps them clear their minds and ease intense emotions. “Running is a great self-care activity,” Gloria Petruzzelli, Ph.D., a licensed clinical and sports psychologist at Sacramento State athletics, tells SELF….But these positive effects won’t necessarily happen all the time post-run, Petruzzelli warns—and, again, they likely won’t be a magical cure for every terrible thing you may be feeling right now. You’ll probably have to take other steps to try to process negative emotions like anger.
“If we cannot process what is triggering the rage, then it will only fester,” Petruzzelli says. “No amount of running can alleviate that.”
Journaling after running or physical activity—writing out your feelings on paper or digitally—is Petruzzelli’s go-to for athletes dealing with intense emotions. “Try to identify the emotion under the anger,” she says. “Is it stress? A feeling of loss of control? Then ask yourself: ‘What triggered me? What are the options to deal with the problem? What are some effective steps I can take?’” She also advises talking it out with someone like a friend.
Remember, even the best listeners do not take the place of a trained therapist, counselor, or doctor. If you feel tense, nervous, unable to relax, overwhelmed, or regularly notice a pattern of rage for more than a week, Petruzzelli recommends seeking professional help or mental health support. That might sound like a very low bar for seeking support—so many of us have been cycling through those emotions for much longer than a week—but that’s the point. A lot of us could use mental health support at this time in a way that rage runs can’t deliver. More on that in a bit.”
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