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David Harbour on Mental Health, Running and Supporting Others This Holiday Season

In need of a way to improve your mental and physical health? Follow David Harbour's lead and hit the ground running.

David Harbour, dressed for a winter run, chats with other runners
David Harbour (right) dressed for a winter run.
Brooks Running

As the days grow shorter and nights begin to feel endless, finding solace in the dark winter days can be hard. Finding an activity that provides some peace of mind is more important than ever in these months. Stranger Things and Violent Night star David Harbour found his escape by running. 

Harbour is no stranger to the difficulty of turning your mental health around and hopping into a new wellness routine. While struggling with anxiety during the pandemic, he chose to clear his mind by hitting the streets for a daily run. 

Mustering up the energy to run for more than a couple of minutes at a time was initially challenging. Harbour told CNET he used to run for a handful of minutes and walk the rest, then repeated the set all over again. That's a familiar experience for most first-time runners, or those just getting back into the swing of working out. Once he overcame those mental and physical hurdles, however, Harbour said, he found undeniable positive mental and physical benefits from daily running. 

"My doctor recommended the three days a week, 35 minutes of cardio, and it's made a difference in all my blood levels, so that's just a sheer physical benefit," Harbour said. "Mentally, it strengthens your mind in the sense that you show up, and even on those days where you don't want to run or you feel tired, you just show up and you do what you can."

While it may take some time to get into physical shape, overcoming the voice in your head saying "I can't do this" and fighting the natural urge to compare yourself to the person next to you can be one of the biggest challenges. Learning not to feel self-conscious about your mile time while the person on the treadmill next to you is running 10 times faster is hard. How did Harbour overcome this? "It's nobody else's run, and they shouldn't occupy space in your brain either. Your run, your life, your health, your well-being, is about you, the pace at which you go, and that's all there is to it."

In an effort to promote physical fitness and mental health while contributing to his community this holiday season, Harbour is partnering with Brooks Running in support of its "Buy Gear, Give Gear" program. 

Thirty or so runners, with David Harbour in the middle of the back row

David Harbour (back row, center, with the maroon jacket) and Brooks Running surprise members of the nonprofit Back on My Feet for a run in New York, in partnership with Brooks Running. 

Brooks Running

From Dec. 8 to Dec. 14, Brooks hosted a "Buy Gear, Give Gear" event, asking shoppers to donate "gear for a year" to Back on My Feet. Through offering financial literacy classes, job-skill training programs and daily runs, Back on My Feet aims to help people without housing and those living in addiction centers find a solid path to independence and physical fitness. On Dec. 3, Harbour surprised members of the Back on My Feet New York chapter with brand new Brooks gear during their run. He also partnered with Brooks as part of the "It's Your Run" campaign in August.

"This Back on My Feet program is pretty profound in its simplicity. People are struggling and they don't know where to turn, and you give them a place and a time where they can show up and just do what they can do for that day," Harbour said. "There's something about having a nice pair of shoes that you use for running that has a ritual behind it when you put them on. You go downstairs, you put on your shoes, and then you go out for a run."

Although Brooks' "Buy Gear, Give Gear" program may be over, you can still give back this holiday season by donating to the Back on My Feet organization. If you're looking to improve your mental health this winter, lace up your Brooks and hit the road for a run. Who knows, you may like it -- stranger things have happened.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.