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  • Writer's pictureHumble Hearts Therapy

Running is not Therapy

Often I see on social media, or hear people say “Running is my therapy” or “The gym is my therapy” or “My Best Friend is my Therapist”. Don’t get me wrong, all of these things support mental health and are an important part of staying well. Research shows all the benefits of exercise and social interaction, how it can boost mood, reduce anxious and depressive symptoms and of course all the physical benefits as well. Still, they are not a substitute for therapy, and here’s why: 

Therapy is Therapy

Therapy creates a very unique and specific environment to share and process your emotions and your experience. Work in therapy is actually done within the relationship you form with your therapist. We have gained a specific skill set to be able to hold space for your emotions, offer unconditional and non-judgmental support in a way that running, exercise, or even your best friend might not be able to. What happens inside the therapy room can be very simple or very complex, and your therapist has the awareness of themselves and of you to be able to know which approach best suits your needs at any given time. Therapy is also a process, it can take time to really understand yourself and make changes that improve your quality of life. Exercise offers an ‘in-the-moment’ mood boost, and can also have long term effects on your brain and your body, but it can’t help you understand why you might have a distorted way of thinking that is keeping you stuck in a negative feedback loop. 

Let’s be real, being a human is hard. Life demands a lot from us on a daily basis, whether it’s at work, school, in our families or just being inside our own head. A therapist can dive deep with you into your suffering and help you understand where your thoughts and behaviours might not be super helpful, and work with you to create change. Creating change may include developing coping mechanisms to deal with feelings of anxiety or anger or sadness, it probably will even include a recommendation to move your body in some way, and nourish your friendships to strengthen your support network outside of therapy. It’s important to understand that psychotherapy is a holistic approach to health and wellness, and might include a team of people to support you on your mental health journey. Exercise is certainly therapeutic ... .it's just not Therapy.

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