We are all aware of the benefits of exercise, fresh air and what we gain physically!  Yet, what about all the benefits we gain for our mental health? How many of you are strong believers that moving more is what builds up our strong mental health?  I can certainly say that being a naturally active person since I was a child has had huge advantages for me until I was surrounded by people like my ex husband who where not naturally active which had a huge impact on my health and well being. My dad has never been as active as my mum so I married my dad as they say!

Up until I was diagnosed with mild depression in winter 2008 I had been a happy, positive, bubbly, enthusiastic, active girl who had a very positive mental attitude to life and all it’s challenges, set backs, issues, problems, hardships and adversities. Nothing had brought me down for very long as I would want to move forward.  Ok, I fell now and again, so what? I would get back up and continue to make progress. I picked this up from my mum whom I spent most of my formative years with. My mum is my biggest inspiration because she is the most resilient, strong minded, happy, bubbly, outgoing, helpful, giving, understanding, direct and funny person you would ever meet. Her positive mental attitude to life is just contagious and those who know and understand her shall inform so!

When you need something done, ask my mum because she has ants in her pants so she shall get things done in a jiffy as us Scots would say! She rarely sits down for any length of time and when she does, she falls asleep! She listens to the television whilst doing the housework so the volume is at it’s highest. She would be thinking about her next task even before commencing on what needs her attention next. She is constantly multitasking wherever she is! Her energy just seems to never run out unless of course she sits down, then she falls asleep because she tired herself out from moving about so much. My mum could and would move Mount Everest with her excessive energy!  She gets frustrated with people who move as slow as a snail especially when she is out shopping and is being held back by people in front of her who as she says “are dead”!

I can relate to that phrase so much as I had felt I was dead inside after I was diagnosed with depression after separating from my then husband, moving house into a temporary accommodation flat with my three sons, working a new job and juggling a new life as a single mother. I felt I had no purpose in life other than being a responsible single mum who solely depended on their mother for survival. Everyday for me felt like a huge muddle, a tremendous struggle and I was living in the past. My thoughts began to consume a huge part of my being, my authentic self and I began to lose my mindfulness and awareness as my sleep at nights were constantly disturbed with toxic thoughts.

It was by chance that I was introduced to running or walking in my case, the Women’s 10k by a colleague in my team at work. I had no idea how I was going to complete walking a full 10k yet I was more than up for it because I wanted to become active again. That was the beginning of a magical journey to build up my mental power which I had lost from being a single mum. I excitedly completed my first 10k in an hour and thirty eight minutes and picked up the 1ok bug! The atmosphere at the Women’s 10k in Glasgow, Scotland in May 2008 was electrifying! We saw men wearing kilts with bagpipes at every kilometre so we knew how far we were to the finish line. My legs were killing me after walking and then jogging a little for the first 5k then as we climbed the narrow steep incline through Pollok Park I was becoming so hungry and tired yet I felt so elated and happy because the atmosphere and all the girls’ support kept everyone moving!

I received my medal, banana, goodie bag and bottle of water at the end of the 10k and that made all my pain more than worth it! Then eight weeks later I received my certificate with my finishing time and I gave it a pride of place and it stayed on my bedroom wall for a good number of years. My mental health became so much better from this absolutely thrilling experience so much so that I signed up for the next Women’s 1ok, and the next, and the next and the next. I stumbled across some information about another 10k which took place in September in Glasgow so I signed up for that too in 2009! Then I ran the 2010, 2011 and 2012 and sadly that was my last as I torn ligaments to my left ankle after a nasty fall on a very hot day whilst out with my big brother in June 2013. I do miss running on the streets of Glasgow and especially across the Kingston Bridge where oncoming traffic are tooting their horns at all the runners and waving to give their support!  The stunning view over the Kingston Bridge shall remain with me for the rest of my life!  Now, how many people can tell you of such a sensational experience?  Then there is the view in Pollok Park in May that just gets addictive. I live in the East End of Glasgow and Pollok Park is at the south side of the city, so I only get to see Pollok Park during the Women’s 10k so I miss that too!

Whilst I was recovering from my torn ligaments I became an invalid, losing my freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I needed help with everyday things like cooking, cleaning and food shop. I even needed my ten year old son to bring the shower head down for me so that I could take a shower sitting down in our bath! I was unfit to drive for the first three weeks of our unusually hot summer so I was stuck indoors, bored to tears and I felt so guilty as I could not take my youngest son out to enjoy our gorgeous weather. Then, my mental health suffered and had a huge impact to my health and well being. I became anxious again about life in general. Having to use a set of crutches whenever I ventured outside felt daunting for me so I avoided the outdoors as much as I could. This did nothing constructive for my recovery nor did I get better and stronger. As the days flew by,  I was due to fly to Germany at the end of September for a training event for work and I knew I needed to throw away my crutches. So I went for physiotherapy to help me to recover which was the best thing I could do for myself.

The training event in Germany was extravagant and noisy with over 10,000 people so I felt overwhelmed and it was daunting for me to walk around with a limp on my left foot. Yet it felt like a holiday to recharge from a rather challenging few months. When I came back from Germany I kept up with my physiotherapy exercises because I was all fired up from the training event. Then I gradually started to do more exercises like squats and plank each day. My mental health became better and stronger as the days and weeks passed. Then I was suddenly hit with another challenge.  We got news on the morning of Tuesday 19th November 2013 that my big brother had suddenly died in hospital.

Losing my big brother at the age of 42 to a very sudden death has been the most heartbreaking life experience for me to date! My world collapsed and I felt I was abandoned, my inner child was left all on her own in this big world where her life companion was no longer present and I felt immense emotional pain for the first few months. Thankfully, my mental health was strong from all of my time I had invested in my personal development and the exercises I had been doing kept my mental health in place, strong and resilient. I was continuing with my daily exercises each evening to keep me going. I was quite surprised that I didn’t have a nervous breakdown or have an episode of anxiety. I did feel my heart was extremely heavy and my life was empty yet mentally, I was feeling strong and capable. I knew my depression would be back so I called my doctor and ask to be referred to my counsellor for a one to one. It took four months of waiting to finally get my appointment with my counsellor and by then I was becoming lighter and happier yet I still knew that my counsellor could help me to a good recovery.

I have learned from my annual challenges with seasonal affective disorder, depression and anxiety that I need to move more and sit less in order to feel happy and content so that I can become more productive. The majority of women will treat themselves to a facial, a new haircut, some new clothes or accessories when they are feeling low yet the best method to feeling happy and content when we are feeling low is to move more and sit less! The feeling of happiness from any sort of exercise is more valuable than any kind of facial or shopping trip and it costs much cheaper! Our body releases the feel good chemical called endorphinsas it triggers a positive feeling in our body, similar to that of morphine.

I was feeling tired and sleepy this morning as I woke up from a disturbed sleep yet the weather was dry and calm so I planned to take my youngest son out to ride our bikes and I did. Calvin woke me up from my nap and asked to go out which is always a great welcome!  So we had lunch then killed our legs riding up a number of inclines in our local park!  We spent  twenty minutes cycling then came home to give our bikes a bath because they were both covered with mud on their tyres. I was feeling tired by the time i managed to get both bikes cleaned up and dried so I felt like going for another nap yet my body would have none of it!  So I got a few priorities seen to as my mind bossed me around! Haha.  I vacuumed our living room, hall and my bedroom, then I cleaned our bathroom, did my budget and felt so proud of myself for being productive instead of taking another nap!  By this time it was getting close to dinner time and I was beckoned to make dinner by Calvin and it meant I needed to make a trip to our local store for some potatoes and meat.

So with dinner cooking I felt elated that I had the energy to see to many of my priorities and more!  I love being active and mentally strong. It helps me to work consistently on achieving my goals which is vital for my personal growth!

So as the new year is well on it’s way now, what do you plan to do to move more so that you sit less? Be creative and think of ways where you can multitask to save time. As you are sitting down to watch the television, do some stretches or lift some dumb bells or a can of beans. You can dance to music whenever it comes on or wiggle your bum to a movie clip that shows people dancing. De-cluttering your home is a great and uplifting way to exercise. It is relaxing to see some extra space created at home from de-cluttering and this helps us to have more clarity as to what we want from our lives. I do it every so often when I feel there is a lack of space as I live with my three sons so we accumulate so much junk. I always feel so much lighter from a de-cluttering session which is so much cheaper than shopping!  Have a good look around your home and see what things need cleaned and do it with some of your favourite music on. This is bound to get you wiggling your hips! If you have little children at home, then take advantage of this and play with them to tire yourself out. If you know any of your neighbours who have a dog then ask them to take him out for a walk. Or wash someone’s car and get scrubbing and waxing! Gardening is another great way to move more which is one of my favourite outdoor activities. You could have the brightest garden in your neighbourhood with some time, effort and creativity invested!

I am off to do my daily yoga now so let’s all get moving more and sitting less! Hehe