Jog On | Bella Mackie

Summary of: Jog On: How Running Saved My Life
By: Bella Mackie

Introduction

Embark on an emotional and empowering journey with Bella Mackie as she navigates through anxiety, heartbreak, and mental health challenges in her book ‘Jog On: How Running Saved My Life’. Discover how running helped Bella break free from the confines of her anxiety and transform her life. The summary delves into Bella’s struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and the powerful impact that running has had on her mental well-being. It also explores the scientific benefits of exercise on mental health and shares insights on overcoming barriers that prevent people from engaging in physical activity.

Overcoming Anxiety

Bella Mackie experienced extreme anxiety from a young age. Even as a child, she was easily frightened and anxious, experiencing physical symptoms such as stomach and chest pain. As she grew older, her anxiety manifested in strange behaviors, including trichotillomania and disassociation. By the time she was an adult, she was having panic attacks and avoiding most places, including her nearest park. In her book, Bella shares her story of overcoming anxiety and offers practical advice for others struggling with mental health issues.

Understanding Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are serious illnesses that can lead to both mental and physical symptoms. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Panic Disorder are two common forms of anxiety that can severely impact a person’s life.

Anxiety disorders are more than just being a worrier or feeling stressed. Bella’s experience shows that these conditions can be debilitating. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a form of anxiety disorder that is often thought of as a fear of germs or a need for things to be orderly. However, OCD starts with distressing thoughts that become stuck in the person’s mind. OCD sufferers spend hours worrying about these thoughts and sometimes develop compulsive behaviors to cope with them.

Panic disorder is another type of anxiety disorder that triggers the fight or flight response at inappropriate times. Sufferers may experience panic attacks in seemingly harmless situations like shopping or riding the bus. These attacks can lead to physical symptoms such as breathlessness and shaking, which can be frightening for the person experiencing them.

The key takeaway is that anxiety disorders are serious illnesses that should not be dismissed as simply worrying too much. Both mental and physical symptoms can severely impact a person’s life. It is important to understand the various types of anxiety disorders, how they manifest, and the appropriate methods of treatment to help those who are suffering.

Running Away from Anxiety

Bella overcomes anxiety through jogging

Bella’s marriage ending left her with no confidence, independence, and an advancing anxiety condition. However, after a few days of drinking and crying, she decided to challenge herself and go for a jog. Despite being too nervous to go to a gym or park, she found a quiet alleyway closest to her home to begin jogging. Although she was only able to jog for three minutes and did a lot of walking in between, she noticed that she had not cried for an entire quarter of an hour. As she continued to practice jogging every night, her confidence grew, and she felt the quietude that came with the physical exertion. Her panic attacks began to recede as she ventured out onto busy streets, jogging through places she had avoided for years. This change made her feel more focused on her feet hitting the sidewalk, avoiding people, and the ache in her legs, and less worried about the anxiety. Through jogging, Bella felt like she was no longer under the control of her anxiety, and her mind became quieter, which was a huge relief from the intrusive panicky thoughts she had experienced for years.

The Power of Running

Bella’s life took a positive turn after she started running. Her experience with jogging proves that exercise has significant mental health benefits. In addition to reducing cortisol levels and leaving you feeling less stressed, exercise can change how anxiety sufferers think about their symptoms, helping them develop positive associations and reducing panic. Exercise also has deep neurological benefits, allowing us to handle stress better. Studies have demonstrated that mice that exercised in stressful environments developed new connections in their hippocampus, an area of the brain that deals with emotions. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, consider running, and like Bella, you might also enhance your physical and emotional well-being.

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