Anxiety, Art Runs & Healing: Celebrating World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, and I’m feeling a bit anxious about everything I’m working on, about my business, my training, and helping those I have commitments to. I’ve dealt with anxiety my whole life, and through the process, found that running and art help ease my mind.

 Chicago Shakeout Art Run sponsored by Clif Bar and Custom Performance.

Chicago Shakeout Art Run sponsored by Clif Bar and Custom Performance.

Moving to NYC in 2012 and not knowing anyone and not having a job was extremely exciting (other words come to mind too haha), but also stressful (15 moves, ah!). Running in all my neighborhoods helped me learn the areas while calming my mind. As I teetered around NYC hanging on by a shoestring, I posted on my blog and @runstreet Instagram with amazing murals I saw on my runs, and funny, subversive and inspirational stickers, wheat pastes and graffiti around the city. From Harlem to Queens to Red Hook, Brooklyn, I found art wherever I lived, and enjoyed sharing it, researching the artists, and learning more about their work. It became like a scavenger hunt for my over-active mind. I was happy that others found the art inspiring as well, commenting, asking questions, and interacting with my posts. And I got to know some incredible artists in the process.

People’s interest in the art I found on my runs led me to create the first Art Run, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, hosted by the Brooklyn Running Co. At our first Art Run, seeing all the smiles, encouragement and excitement about the street art made me realize this was a great way for all runners to relax and connect, with each other, themselves and the art around us. As I say at the Art Runs, it is not a race - we go at a 10-minute-mile pace - and the point is to have fun, relax and learn about the art. We are not competing or judging, we are simply enjoying and being. People meet new friends, connect with artists we feature at events, and get in a run all at the same time.

This is why I am so passionate about Runstreet. And even though I feel overwhelmed at times about all there is to do, and still get anxious from time to time, I’ve found that the smiles, high fives, happy posts and thank yous from Art Run events have made it all worthwhile.

On World Mental Health Day, I’d like to encourage everyone to get in a nice workout where you break a sweat, feel that adrenaline pumping, and take time to appreciate the beauty and people around you.

And most importantly, check in with yourself to see how you are feeling. If you are down, lonely, anxious, afraid or feeling lost, don’t hesitate to reach out, to myself, a friend or loved one, or a mental health professional. Although the Art Runs help me, along with keeping a gratitude journal (I love the Grateful app), I also have needed therapy at times. For anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need an extra boost, some insight, or help getting “unstuck” in your life.

Resources for Help (I have used all of these except the Suicide hotline and have found them helpful): National Alliance on Mental Illness for free support groups and events for a wide range of mental health issues, YWCA for domestic violence and sexual assault counseling and resources, Suicide Prevention Lifeline for depression and suicidal thoughts, Psychology Today to find a therapist, Runstreet Events for Art Runs

 Photos by Marques Jackson/ Filles Garçons NY . Pride Art Run 2018.

Photos by Marques Jackson/Filles Garçons NY. Pride Art Run 2018.