Walking through the shorter days

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Where have the dark mornings come from all of a sudden? Gone are the days of me jumping out of bed (well, some days) at 6am with the sun rising. Now my hand just creeps out from under the covers and hits snooze again and again.

With the dark evenings drawing in I have found it tougher to motivate myself to be more physically active around my working hours. Apparently regular exercise will make you feel more energetic, which should make it a little easier to get out of your warm bed on cold, dark mornings but taking that first step is tough.

We know being active can help improve your mental wellbeing. Mental wellbeing means feeling good – both about yourself and about the world around you. It means being able to get on with life in the way you want. There’s plenty of evidence out there to show the impact physical activity can have on your mental state.

Take Olley, a member of our community who is currently running in an event every month to raise money for us, he said: “I’ve been dealing with depression for the last ten years now. I know how bad it can be and how it can stop you from living a ‘normal’ life.

I started running as a way of escaping and to get my head clear. I started small, doing the couch to 5k, then I signed up to Colchester Park Run. On my first one I thought I was going to die! It took me about 36 minutes – I felt it for the next week! I started to go out with my dog for just short runs/jogs/walks and then went back to the Park Run. I smashed my first run by 4 minutes, finishing in 31 minutes. I was over the moon and just jumping around!

I’ve been using my running as a way to clear my head, without anything around to bother me. I’ve now got a great job and I wanted to give something back to a local charity that helps people when they’re feeling low and depressed.”

So how can you take that first step? Being active doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the gym if that doesn’t appeal to you. Find physical activities that you enjoy and think about how to fit more of them into your daily life. Personally, I find walking therapeutic. Walking is underrated as a form of exercise but it’s one of the easiest ways to get more activity into your day. It’s something you can do on your own or with friends to make it more sociable, really depends on what’s right for you.

Here at Mid and North Essex Mind we co-run a monthly ‘walk and talk’ in both Colchester and Clacton which people can just turn up to. It is designed to help with isolation and loneliness and get people out of their houses into the fresh air. We try never to focus on people’s medical or mental health problems but enjoy talking about the scenery, the weather, TV, anything really.

Don’t berate yourself if you’re feeling low, you’re not alone and you don’t have to cope with it by yourself. Open the door, get some fresh air and, most importantly, talk to someone, more people will understand than you think.

Holly, Marketing and Fundraising Manager