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Running + Mental Health

Maintaining positive well-being and mental health is always challenging in the DesignOps community and the Design field. Taking care of teams and creating space for other cross-functional partners can quickly take its toll, and mental debt can build up quickly. On top of that, the world is heavy with war and a global pandemic. How do you keep a sliver of sanity when it feels like the world is falling to pieces amid a worldwide pandemic? For me, the answer to those questions is running. Running is a positive mental health sanctuary; it’s a way to stay active and a tool that allows me to eat more pizza. 

I’m in no way an elite runner. I’m a runner. I run to feel better at the end of the day. I run to clear my mind. I run to challenge myself. Sure, I like to dive into my split times and other stats via Strava, Garmin, or PUMATRAC, but I don’t run to set local records. To me, running is about that release. It’s that hour where everything melts away, and a sense of mindfulness comes over. It’s lacing up my shoes and leaving the house in the mornings to find my starting line. The fantastic thing about running is that the starting line can be anywhere (the finish line can be anywhere too). Ultimately, running allows me to return to a slightly better state of mind and be friendlier and more compassionate to the people around me for the remainder of the day. 

Recently I’ve been following a training plan via Garmin Coaching. I have a few regular routes that I rotate through. The nice thing about the Garmin plan is that it removes a lot of the planning, allowing me to run. It’s one less thing I need to juggle between work, meal planning, laundry, and kid wrangling. 

Studies have shown that engaging in running can alleviate stress and anxiety. I feel like anything that seems to have a positive effect on my mental health at the moment is worth doing. Whether it’s a placebo or not, that little self-care boost goes a long way. 

What are some ways you are paying attention to your mental health and practicing self-care? As a designer or parent, are you taking time to step out of the chaos and find a healthy release? I’d love to hear how you stay active from a mental and physical perspective.