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Stress Relief with Running Therapy has Downsides, Study Shows

Stress Relief with Running Therapy has Downsides

A new study found that always attempting to relief stress using running therapy has downsides. Various types of escapism can encourage people to run, but utilizing running to escape from negative experiences rather than positive ones may lead to exercise dependence.

Recreational jogging provides numerous physical and mental health benefits; yet, some people might develop exercise dependence, a type of physical activity addiction that can lead to health problems. Surprisingly, even among recreational runners, indicators of exercise dependence are widespread.

A study published in Frontiers in Psychology looked into whether the concept of escapism might help us comprehend the connection between running, wellbeing, and exercise dependence.

“Escapism is a common human phenomenon, but little is understood about its motivational roots, how it influences experiences, and the psychological implications,” stated lead scientist Dr. Frode Stenseng of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

“Escapism is sometimes characterized as “a hobby, a type of entertainment, etc. that helps you escape or forget unpleasant or dull things’. In other words, many of our daily activities can be regarded as escapes,” Stenseng explained.

“The psychological benefit of escapism is decreased self-awareness, less rumination, and release from one’s most pressing, or stressful, thoughts and feelings.”

Escapism can either restore perspective or serve as a distraction from problems that must be addressed. Self-expansion refers to adaptive escapism, which seeks out pleasant experiences. Meanwhile, self-suppression refers to the avoidance of unwanted events through maladaptive escape. Running can be used for exploration or evasion.

“These two types of escapism emerge from two different mindsets: to generate a pleasant mood or to avert a poor mood,” Stenseng explained.

Escapist Hobbies for Self-Expansion

Escapist hobbies for self-expansion have more favorable results, but they also have more long-term benefits. Self-suppression, on the other hand, tends to suppress both happy and negative feelings and leads to avoidance.

The team recruited 227 recreational runners, half of whom were men and half of whom were women, with significantly disparate running habits.

They were asked to complete questionnaires that looked at three different aspects of escapism and exercise dependence: an escapism scale that measured preference for self-expansion or self-suppression, an exercise dependence scale, and a satisfaction with life scale that measured the participants’ subjective well-being.

The researchers discovered that there was very little overlap between runners who chose self-expansion modes of escapism and runners who preferred self-suppression kinds of escapism. Self-expansion was associated with increased happiness, whereas self-suppression was associated with decreased happiness.

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The Outcome of Stress Relief with Running Therapy

Both self-suppression and self-expansion were connected to exercise reliance, but self-suppression was significantly stronger. Neither escapism style was associated with age, gender, or the amount of time spent running. However, both had an impact on the association between wellbeing and exercise reliance.

Whether or not a person met the requirements for exercise dependence, a preference for self-expansion would still be associated with a more positive sense of self.

Since exercise reliance corrodes the potential wellbeing gains from exercise, it appears that experiencing reduced wellbeing is both a cause and an effect of exercise dependency: the dependency may be driven by poorer wellbeing while also fostering it.

Similarly, positive self-expansion may be a psychological motivator that encourages exercise dependence.

“Further studies employing longitudinal study designs are required to elucidate more of the motivational dynamics and results in escapism,” Stenseng added.

“Yet, these findings may educate people in understanding their own motivation, and they may be used for therapeutic purposes for individuals struggling with maladaptive engagement in their activity.”

How to Deal with Stress

Stress is a physiological and psychological reaction to external pressures or demands, which are referred to as stressors. Physical stressors, such as illness or injury, might be as common as psychological stressors, such as work or relationship troubles. When we are exposed to stress, our bodies release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to prepare us for a fight or flight reaction.

This response can help us deal with acute challenges. However, chronic or persistent stress can be harmful to our physical and mental health. This includes an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety. Also, stress management techniques such as exercise, meditation, and social support can help prevent these detrimental impacts.

Stress is a typical experience that affects people in varied ways, but there are several effective coping mechanisms. Here are a few ideas:

Determine the source of the stress: Attempt to figure out what is causing you to be stressed. Is it about the job, personal concerns, or something else? You can better handle the problem once you know where it is coming from.

Mindfulness is a technique for paying attention to the current moment without judgment. It can assist you in remaining calm and attentive throughout difficult times.

Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever. Even a brief stroll or workout can improve your mood and relieve stress.

More Stress Relief Techniques

Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can contribute to stress and make it difficult to manage. Strive for a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night.

Spend time with friends and family: Spending time with friends and family might help you feel more relaxed and supported. If you require assistance, don’t be hesitant to ask for it.

Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are all relaxation techniques that can help you feel calmer and reduce stress.

Emphasize self-care: Self-care is critical for stress management. Make time for hobbies, maintain a nutritious diet, and avoid bad coping techniques such as alcohol or drugs.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can assist you in identifying and changing negative thought patterns that contribute to stress and anxiety.

Hobbies: Enjoyable activities such as reading, listening to music, or playing an instrument can help relieve stress and enhance mood.

Spending time with friends and family, as well as discussing your difficulties with trusted persons. This can help relieve stress and enhance mood.

It is critical to identify and consistently practice stress management approaches that work best for you.

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