0C66A69E-F181-45DC-91FF-6EB437F7B2662019 I am determined to have a positive start to the year, that’s why I decided to take part in RED January, joining thousands of other redders all over the country supporting mental health awareness.

January always brings with it, a new year, a new start, ‘New Year’ resolutions, but it also brings with it the winter blues….

“January always made me feel blue, this all changed when I decided to take part in RED January challenge to beat the winter blues”

I want to inspire people to feel better about themselves, to be able to talk about their mental health and improve their mental wellbeing.

My journey to positive wellbeing hasn’t been easy. I’ve suffered with my mental health over the years, but 2015 I started running.
Running helps me to manage my own mental health when I put on my trainers, I am gaining so much more than the physical side of it. It gives me head space to organise things in my mind “it clears my head.” “It’s my destress tonic!” I think of it as looking after my wellbeing. Taking time out for myself, it’s a time to enjoy being outside whatever the weather, enjoying your free space and the fresh air is an energising, uplifting, experience.

“It’s my destress tonic”

For me the mental benefits outweighed the physical benefits when I joined a running club “Run Like a Girl.” It gave me the opportunity to make friends and the encouragement and support we have for each other, running as a group, soon your building up the miles and entering running events. It also introduced me to Park Run and now I am a keen Park Runner. I love how the running community come together every Saturday morning all over the world to run at their local Park Run.

Running also gave me the opportunity to talk openly about my mental health, my fears and anxieties which I write about in my blog “mental health and me.”

In June 2016 I entered the two Castles 10k event in my father’s memory, running for Mind, the mental health charity and I’ve continued fundraising completing The Birmingham Half and The Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon for Mind last year.

My strength to run came from my father – I wanted to do it for him. It allowed me to share his story for all the years of feeling ashamed. The stigma surrounding mental health meant I could not talk about it and my father battled alone with depression for many years. Tragically, my father took his own life, aged 48. I was just 19 years old.

This had a huge impact on my life and my family and I suffered a nervous breakdown. It took me many years to come to terms with his death and to understand depression as the illness not the person.
My father was an amazing man, who did so much in his short life whilst suffering in silence with this illness.

This is why I feel very passionate about the importance of raising awareness for not just depression, but for all mental illnesses. Our mental health is a part of us and we must keep talking about it and raising awareness of it.

I am now a Mental Health Champion for England Athletics. I’m involved in the #runandtalk initiative, which aims to improve mental health through running and getting people talking about mental health, sharing experiences, removing stigma by raising awareness.

“Mental health Issues affects 1 in 4 of us and is the highest death rate in men aged between 40-49”

We should all care more about our mental health and take time to look out for others who may be struggling.
No one should have to face a mental health problem alone.

In October 2017 I set up a mental health group in the community called “Mental Health Together.’ We have a monthly walk and talk, run and talk and occasional coffee mornings, these all take place in the Leamington and Warwick area.
Its for any abilty of fitness and there are different options run/walk.
Our events incorporate exercise with a social gathering and we always meet up for drinks and a natter. We also organise small group activities, it’s about social interaction, so there is something for everyone.

So lets start with RED January!

RED is a National Challenge, which teamed up with Mind. It’s name refers to turning January Red and beating the January blues. It’s a challenge that is set for 31 consecutive days in January, starting on the 1st January 2019.

The challenge is to keep active every day for 31 days and is for all fitness abilities. The activity can be anything you want it to be, walking, running, swimming, cycling, fitness classes, outdoors or indoors whatever the weather predicts, there are plenty of fitness DVD’s to get us moving at home. Just remember anything active counts for RED and just 30 minutes a day, if that’s all you manage it can make a big difference to how you feel.

A lot of people signed up to RED last year and it already has a great following on the Red January Community Facebook group, inspiring, encouraging and motivating others to do it RED together, raising awareness for mental health. It brings people together, keeping us active for our mental wellbeing and its a great boost and start to the New Year!

“Support your mental health this January by doing something active every single day. Every day, your way!”

If you would like to get involved you can just do it or you can sign up to RED January. To register and receive a tshirt, go to http://www.redtogether.co.uk or National Mind.

Most important of all it’s about enjoying the challenge and not setting unrealistic goals, if you feel tired or fall ill during the challenge, it’s about knowing your limits and looking after your health. You can always pick it up another day, there is no pressure at all.

During RED January I will be continuing my fundraising for mental health and I’ve set up a fundraising page supporting our local Springfield Mind based in Leamington and Warwick.

If you will be taking part in RED January please share and donate to the fundraising page.

“Red January showed me how to beat the January blues, turning January Red is what it’s all about!”IMG_E9636

Start your year off with positive wellbeing for 2019 the year of Wellbeing in Warwickshire.

Kickstart the new year together with RED January!


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