Move More for your Mental Health

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, lasting from Monday 13th to Sunday 19th May, and the theme is movement. How can movement improve and benefit our mental health? From jogging, cycling and dog walking to simply getting outside for fresh air and peace of mind, there is a powerful correlation between getting active and a boosted mood. Here at Grangers, we believe the outdoors also plays an important part in soothing a troubled mind by reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, we asked a few of our ambassadors and some members of Team Grangers to share their experiences with the outdoors and how it has positively impacted their mental health. We hope this will inspire and motivate those who need it to seek solace in the outdoors when it all gets a bit too much.

Nigel Vardy – @nigelvardy

It was the spring of 2000. I was still recovering from severe frostbite and getting slowly back on my feet. Spring colours were bursting and the sky was filled with birdsong. I wobbled through the trees and surrounded myself with bluebells. These were the woods of my childhood, where I'd run, got stung and covered in mud as a boy. As I sat down, I looked up at the sky and cried.  Every year I go back alone and cry again. Life’s troubles disappear and I come home to sit quietly and reflect on my life. These woods have saved me time and time again.

Gee Jackson – @geeadventurous

For me, the outdoors is imperative to my mental health. It gives me energy, it gives me peace, and it gives me hope. Our minds and bodies are designed to be active outdoors, and research shows that just 15 minutes outside can have a physical effect on us and therefore change the way we feel. The outdoors helps me solve my problems, gives me perspective, and allows me to process what has been happening in my life. There’s no question; being outside is my happy place.

Stu, Team Grangers

Spending time in the mountains, doing what I love, is my way of keeping grounded and maintaining a perspective on life where I am reminded of what really matters. Life can be hard in all areas and being outdoors, gives me the headspace and time to hold on to a simple joy and hope, that all is going to be okay in life, despite challenges faced elsewhere.

Jules, Team Grangers

Being outdoors gives my mind space to digest the every day, clearing the negative and replacing it with positivity and perspective. Running and hiking have really benefited my mental health, giving me the space to be mindful whilst keeping active.

Tash, Team Grangers

The outdoors is a place I find peace and motivation, a place I lose myself in order to find myself. Going for a run in an unknown place and just letting my feet lead the way helps me to focus on clearing my mind and finding new perspective. Focusing on birdsong and nature instead of the whirring of an overactive mind. At times, stress and day-to-day life can be overwhelming and the outdoors helps to calm me and relieve my pressure. A time where the outdoors really saved me was after losing my Grandmother, I was really struggling with the grief and I remember going for a walk and simply sitting on the edge of the Peak District and knowing that, although not in person, she’d always be around me. The outdoors helps me to find that peace.

Andy Dodd – @andyd0dd

When a friend asked for a catchup, I had no idea our decision to virtually meet at sunrise on a cold December morning whilst on opposite sides of the country would be the start of a journey that changed my life. I went on to be 'present' for sunrise every morning from Winter to Summer Solstice, reconnecting with nature and checking in with myself. I soon found the simple act of finding a place to be stationary and watching the sunrise to be a reliable tool for understanding my mental health and identifying any problems I had.

It was something I didn't know I needed, and while I no longer watch the sunrise daily, I still regularly use this tool to check in with myself and often invite friends to join me, sharing the benefits I've experienced in a fast-paced world where it's easy to overlook one's feelings.

Annie, Team Grangers

Whenever I get outside and explore, I feel my mind and body reset. Stresses and anxieties can gather and collect in my head and sometimes, the outdoors is the only thing that can chase them away. The grand and untamed landscapes of the Peaks offer me a reprieve from everyday life, acting as a helpful and vital reminder that although our struggles can feel monumental, escaping for an afternoon can do the world of good. At the top of Curbar Edge, my perspective changes and all I can think is that I’m so lucky to be alive to witness such a beautiful sight.

If you are struggling with your mental health, please seek the support and advice of your GP. Please check out the Mental Health Foundation Get Help page for further mental health support and resources.