Whatever your standing in society, everyone has physical health as well as mental health. No matter where you are on the spectrum of mental health, there are things you can do daily to keep good mental health.
One of these things is through movement.
The Japanese have a term called Shinrin-yoku, which means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” The idea is by moving in a natural setting, benefits our physical and mental well being, as it helps us have a sense groundedness or interconnectedness to our natural environment, particularly for people living in urban areas.
Movement can take on many forms, one is through walking in a natural setting as noted above, or in my personal experience it can be expressed through running.
There have been times where I have a challenge in my mind, and going for an easy paced run or walk helps me gain some clarity. However sometimes it’s not easy to know where to start exploring the challenges that one may face, and this book can help as a starting point.
Written by William Pullen a psychotherapist registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, introduces Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT) which is a method for confronting difficult feelings and circumstances in your life through movement. It is easily adapted to you, so if you want to run, walk, that’s absolutely fine.
With modern life, although we are busy and appear more connected to the digital, world, we can also be disconnected to ourselves because of these distractions. This books great strength is it helps start this conversation to better connect with yourself.
The book is divided into sections to address themes such as anger, anxiety, relationships etc. So you can dip into sections of the book as required. It encourages you think beyond the initial conscious answer, to pay attention and raise your awareness to the challenges you face. It works by stimulating your thoughts, combined with action it can help make new choices or, if there isn’t an answer that’s OK, as it helps you see things clearly.
The main thing is to be honest with yourself, look at all emotions without judgement. This isn’t easy to do because feelings of looking weak or shame inhibit this process, of how you actually feel about a chosen topic.
So your reading this thinking OK “Marathon” Marcus it’s ok for you to pontificate on these theories, but do they work? So here is an example excerpt of one of my answers to a question in the book.
Please note: In addition to the activity, journaling is encouraged by the author.
Do you feel powerless? If so, in what way? Would it help to acknowledge this?
I’ve been practicing Wing Chun Kung Fu for a number of years, and a guest Sifu came into our Kwoon to take a class, and he said “People study martial arts because they are afraid of something.” At the time my ego laughed it off, but after the class that comment really stuck with me for a long time afterwards, because in my case it was true. My childhood was tough, at times I felt powerless, vulnerable and fearful.
So when I grew up I wanted to learn a martial art almost as if learning how to defend myself would coverup the feelings of powerlessness, vulnerability and fear.
But it didn’t. As time passed I learned skills of how to physically fight, however later I realised that I was fighting against myself, I was fighting against that kid I was in the past.
If I am to progress in my training, I can’t train from a place of historic fear, because it has no place or relevance to the here and now…
This process did help me look at something I didn’t pay attention to, and that experience is invaluable because once your aware of these things, it’s easier to let them go.
Final point: Although there has been great coverage regarding mental health. There is a big difference between mental health and mental illness. The latter falls into the range of mood, anxiety, personality, psychotic disorders, which require medical and personal help. There are cases where for some people having antidepressants is life or death situation. For those affected by clinic mental illness the author and I are in agreement that DRT isn’t suitable.
Whereas DRT and the book are more suitable for those who feel stuck, or suffer low mood, anxiety, stress or depression.
In the balance between a sound mind and body, this book is a reminder of the importance to make time daily to prioritise both. Sometimes it’s not easy to know where to start but this book is a great help in getting unstuck, and in encouraging journaling, as such I would highly recommend this book and DRT.
Run for Your Life by William Pullen is published by Penguin Life and is on Amazon.