Jenna Gleeson Counselling

How Self-Talk Can Improve Your Running and Your Life

What is self-talk?

Self-talk is what we say to ourselves in response to any particular situation that mainly determines our mood and feelings.

What does it have to do with running or my life?

Imagine two runners on their Tuesday night run in a Vancouver rain storm. One runner perceives herself as rushed, wet and miserable, and says things to herself like, “I can’t do this” or “this hill is too big tonight.” What she feels is frustration, anger and maybe even failure. The other runner perceives the situation as an opportunity to do something for herself or a chance to wash away the stress of her day. She says statements to herself like, “you got this”, “you feel strong on this hill” or “nothing is going to hold me down.”  She feels motivated and a sense of accomplishment. In both cases, the situation is exactly the same, but the feelings in response to that situation are vastly different because of each individual’s internal monologue, or self-talk.

This example illustrates the difference between negative and positive self-talk. The impact of negative self-talk can result in slower run pace, negative mood during/after run and on race day can mean performing below your physical potential.

The impacts of self-talk are prevalent in all areas of life (running being only one aspect). Most of us are really good at negative self-statements and people often tell me that they would never speak to their best-friend the way they speak internally to themselves. This needs to change for the sake of our mental wellness! We all need to learn to be more compassionate and caring towards ourselves as it will help energize you in all areas of your life.

Steps to Counter Negative Self-talk


  1. Notice. “Catch yourself in the act” of engaging in negative self-talk. Be aware of the situations that are likely to be precipitated by negative self-talk. (Example, when you are running up a steep hill or near the end of a long run).


  1. Stop. Ask yourself the following questions: “What am I telling myself that is making me feel this way?” or “Do I really want to do this to myself?”


  1. Practice Positive Self-Talk. Create some positive, rational and self-supportive statements. For example, “I got this” or “I feel strong” or “I am going to have an awesome race” or “I am going to crush this hill.” Coming up with positive self-statements or mantras before you head out for your run (or do anything) is crucial. It also contributes to our mind-body connection which increases mental wellbeing. When my negative self-talk takes over I often notice my pace slow down and running feels like hard work. Once I start using my positive statements I notice my pace picks up without any added physical effort!

Create your positive self-talk mantra today! If you need some ideas let me know.


Practicing positive self-talk is important in all areas of your life and contributes to mental wellness, it can be the first step towards decreasing feelings of anxiety and depression.


Top 10 Benefits of Running on Mental Wellness

Running a Powerful Prescription for Boosting Mood

1.  Reduce stress. Running can help manage stress by increasing the concentration of norepinephrine in your brain, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So go ahead and get sweaty — working out can reduce stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension.

2.  Releases happy brain chemicals. Running releases endorphins which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can alleviate symptoms of low mood among clinically depressed individuals. The research is showing that exercise can be as affective as antidepressants in treating depression.

3.  Improve self-confidence. Running promotes physical and mental self-worth! Running (all physical fitness) can boost self-esteem and increase positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender, or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her body. Running =Self-love!

4.  Improved sleep. A moderate run workout can have (in some individuals) the equivalent effect of a sleeping pill, even for someone dealing with insomnia.

5.  Social interaction. Being part of a run group or having a run buddy provides important social time. Typically you are interacting with likeminded and positive people. The social aspect of running is a key element in improving feelings of low mood. Perk: you always have people to grab coffee with after the run!

6.  Sense of mastery. Studies have found that daily goals in the form of positive activities can help alleviate depression. By running a couple of times a week, you can set yourself weekly goals, whether it be simply putting your trainers on and getting out of the house, running for 30 minutes without stopping, or beating your PB. Entering a race is also a great way to set a goal to work towards.

7.  Boosts brainpower. Most cross-sectional studies show that older adults who are fit display better cognitive performance than those who are less fit. Further, studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking, and learning.

8.  Calming effect. Running increases body temperature which can have a calming effect on the body. This is another way that running can reduce stress and anxiety.

9.  Mind-body element. Activities that connect the mind-body provide a rest for your mind and increase energy for your body (yoga, tai chi). You can achieve this in running by adding a meditative element, such as, repeating a mantra as you run.

10.  Be more productive. Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers. So take the time to go for your run (even if you fit it in on your lunch break) you might get as much done or more!!


running 2

Celebrating Mental Wellness

I am so thrilled to be working on the north shore and to be involved in advocating for mental wellness in my own community. I have always had the dream of having a private practice and I thought it would happen one day, after I had created my family, bought the perfect house and basically done everything else on my life to do list. Then I realized that life doesn’t work that way. This year I learned that if you have a dream you have to chase after it and make it happen NOW.

Five things you should know about me?

  1. I have always wanted to be a counsellor and proclaimed this to my teacher in my high school planning class.
  2. I believe in mental wellness and that talking about mental health is essential to finding joy in our lives.
  3. I have always loved playing dress-up and it is a privilege to work with children who allow me to enter into their world of imagination.
  4. I like working with youth because they know when you are full of it and keep me honest and genuine at all times.
  5. I love running/biking/swimming, chocolate and salt and vinegar chips (Miss Vicky’s).
Running in Kona

Running in Kona

The purpose of this page will be to provide you with information on mental wellness from A-Z. I will post on the hot topics in mental health and therapy.  Thank you for visiting my site and stay tuned for more to come!

The Slow Movement

As I write this blog in a rush on my lunch break from my desk I realize that I have a lot of work to do on this particular topic. I came across a TED talk last week that made me stop and think (like a lot of them do) because it was about SLOWING DOWN. I find that I am always rushing…to work…home in the car…to my workouts… to cook dinner…to get to bed! Just thinking about all that rushing makes me feel exhausted and I am aware that I often miss the moments in between. Many people’s lives these days are filled to the max; I often have parents explain that they just don’t have time to spend one-on-one time with their children because they are too busy as a family going to different activities. I get it, but I don’t like it. We live in a world where we are constantly moving in a fast paced forward direction but maybe it’s time to STOP, SLOW down and LIVE in the moment that is. Am I talking about a holiday? NO.

The idea is slowing down and being present in our lives. Taking the time to notice our lives and live them in the now…not always thinking about the future (mindfulness principles). When was the last time that you slowed down? On one of my recent runs I put this to practice. I decided to run slower than usual and focus on the present moment. I often find myself planning my future on my runs (thinking about my goals, my dreams and how they are going to become reality).

My run was awesome and difficult. I found my pace picking up and my mind starting to race (about all the things I had to do next week), but I harnessed my energy back to being SLOW. It was a much needed reminder that life goes by way to fast and that SLOW doesn’t necessarily mean unproductive, lazy, or bad…but calm, open to new experiences and refreshed. I had a great run, but most importantly I learned that I am happier when I slow down my mind and body.

Take a moment to slow down, watch this TED talk:

Here are 5 simple ideas to slow down your mind and body:

  1. Make a cup of tea, just sit in your favorite chair and disconnect from TV or your phone (you do not need to Instagram your every movement).
  2. Take a slow walk with a friend.
  3. Spend 1:1 time with a child and really be present (children can teach us so much about how to truly live life).
  4. Go to a yoga class…nothing helps me slow my mind more than yoga
  5. Slow down and enjoy eating your food! Make time to not rush through eating lunch…you will enjoy your food so much more!