Depression is Like a Marathon
Updated: Oct 8, 2020
I want to run a marathon. Tomorrow! Ok, probably not going to happen. I need to train my body. My legs need to strengthen and build stamina so I don’t fall over. My lungs have to train to breathe effectively while I run for a long period of time. My heart has to learn to pump enough blood for an extended period of time. While training, I will need to take rest days to recover, wear the right shoes, and drink lots of water. Slowly and surely my body will be ready to safely run those 26.2 miles.
The same training goes for healing symptoms of depression. Just like I won’t be able to run a marathon tomorrow, depression does not heal overnight. It takes hard work, persistence and retraining the brain.
Just like the legs need strengthening, our brain can strengthen, too. Learning to reframe negative self-talk through bridging statements or gratitude journaling allows your brain to create new neural pathways. These pathways allow us to think of positive self-talk before automatically hearing the negative.
Just like our physical health, our emotional health relies on and is affected by what we put into our bodies, such as food and substances. To train and run a marathon we would need to pay attention to what goes into our diet so that we don't run out of energy and can instead feel invigorated and strong, allowing us to train and finish the race. Similarly with mood, we also need to pay attention to what we are putting into our bodies. Diet plays a role in helping our brain make new connections and pathways, and with how we feel emotionally.
Healing from depression also requires self-care. Rest days could include light yoga, watching your favorite movie or doing a puzzle. Teaching your brain to build pleasure with self-care also helps reduce depressive symptoms.
Whether you are training for a marathon or healing from depression, you will need to be patient with the process. It takes time to reach our goals as our brain and body strengthen over time.
Written by: Mackenzie Kerber, MA, LPCC