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Need Some Stress Relief? Lace Up Your Shoes and Run By Gina Nunez, Associate Director, Office of Student Affairs

Gina Nunez

Gina Nunez posed before the Rock n’Roll half marathon in July 2018.

“What do you do when you’re stressed?” Some people like to color, some people meditate, and some like to just keep to themselves. I like to run.

Running has become my stress relief. I serve as the Conduct Officer and Title IX Investigator for the University, so I see some pretty heavy issues in my daily work. Leaving work at work isn’t always easy, especially when people trust you with their very personal experiences. When I’m definitely feeling under pressure, I run (not away from my problem) to gain clarity and when I’m done, I feel prepared to tackle the issue with renewed energy and a fresh perspective.

When I run, sometimes it can be difficult to fully focus, so I don’t. I let my mind wander and just focus on my breathing or the sound and rhythm of my steps, or I just look at the beautiful surroundings in Chicago. It’s amazing how our great city can ease your mind and make your problems seem small, or at the very least, provide space to let you work through them.

Everyone has felt some form of stress (anger, anxiety, grief, negative thoughts, etc.), whether your grandpa just passed away, your dog is sick, you’re suffering from heartbreak, you’re feeling overwhelmed at work or struggling in your classes. Running is an outlet for all of those feelings. Whatever the reason, lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement, and leave those negative thoughts behind you.

If you’ve never used running as a stress reliever, I highly encourage you to try it, especially now that spring is here. April is Stress Awareness Month, and there are so many benefits to running! You can run anywhere, it’s free, you get some “you time,” and you feel confident when you accomplish your goal. Running not only helps me feel physically stronger but mentally and emotionally stronger as well. Don’t worry if you have to stop and catch your breath.  Just start at a pace that you feel comfortable with, or run one block and walk one until you find your stride! Don’t be afraid to push yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you just started or how fast or far you go, just go. I’ll try to remind myself of that this October when I run the Chicago Marathon. Just keep going, one step at a time, and when nothing goes right, go run!