How Exercising Helped Me Rest

How running a few times a week helps me combat burnout
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Created by Flrncia

Published on Aug 23, 2023
woman running on the pavement
Andrew Tanglao Unsplash


I would never describe myself as someone athletic. I was never on a varsity team. The one sport I liked was swimming, but sadly, it never really panned out beyond the summer lessons I took with my cousins. 

My interests always leaned more toward crafts, crocheting, jewelry making, paper mache, and reading. But, I was lucky enough to grow up with a good metabolism, so I was able to maintain the appropriate body weight for build and age. So, I never really gave exercising much thought until college. 

We were allowed to choose any PE class we wanted, from lectures, to martial arts like muay thai and karate, to sports like basketball, tennis and volleyball. Following my trend, it would have made sense for me to take a lecture class, but as luck would have it, they ran out of slots and was stuck with a running class. 

It was hard. For the first two weeks, I felt like my lungs were burning by the end of the period. I got better though; eventually, I was able to finish the semester running 3 kilometers in under 50 minutes, and I liked it. It led to me choosing progressively harder ‘exercise classes’, circuit training, weight lifting, and muay thai. 

Why? It helped me deal with the stress of college. For at least three hours a week, I had nothing else to think about except breathing, properly placing one foot over the other, or keeping proper form. 

As someone who was not naturally athletic and still learning the ropes, I had no space in my head at that time except to make sure that I didn’t injure myself, or worse, someone else. For that little bit of time, I wasn’t fretting about a three-thousand word term paper, finishing scholarship service hours for the semester, or an upcoming quiz on a reading I hadn’t started. 

I just had to breathe and follow the coach. At the end of each session, I found myself surprisingly energized. Yes, physically, I may be tired out, but on the days I had PE, I found myself getting into the flow of studying better and for longer afterwards. 

It also helped me become more confident in myself in the sense that I felt stronger. I no longer needed my boyfriend to help me carry the weekly groceries. I had no problem wrangling my three dogs, weighing 7kg, 15kg and 18kg respectively. 

Overall, even in the most stressful of times, it helped me feel like I had my life together because even in that little slice of time away from work, I had complete control of something: how I exercised. 

Even when I was juggling club activities, an internship, a part-time job and a thesis, I did not burn out because I took the time to rest through exercising. Of course, this was not the only factor, but I believe that it helped me greatly. 

Now that I’m newly working and a lot of things remain uncertain, I exercise to let my mind rest from the worries and to energize me for the challenges I know I’ll face. 


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