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Getting active for better mental health

Scott Siwicki, Group Client Solutions Director at Advantage Group UK, discusses his upcoming challenge and how getting physically active has had a positive impact on his mental health and on his overall performance, both at work and at home.

Mental health at home, in the workplace, and in our general environment is such an important topic and something that we are all, quite rightly, increasingly aware of.

But what can we do directly to help ourselves and others with achieving and maintaining positive mental health?

This spring I’ve decided to take a very physical approach and run two half marathons in aid of Mind, our adopted charity.  One half marathon for each side of my own mind!

My journey started a couple of years ago when I attended a brilliant ‘wellbeing in the workplace’ programme, hosted by Chamonix Hard Cross at their base in the French Alps.  Here we focused on the key pillars of fitness, diet, sleep and discussion.  And we shared our thoughts and emotions around work and the daily pressures we face.  In a nutshell, we realised that the healthier we are, the better we can cope with whatever life throws at us.  Not rocket science admittedly, but I benefitted so much from those three days of introspection and shared learning, not to mention the wonderful hiking.

Fast forward to January this year.  Mind have partnered with RED January, a community initiative that encourages you to support your mental health by doing something active every single day, in typically the most depressing month of the year.  It’s now in its third year and is gaining significant popularity.

So I joined up as both a mental and physical test for myself.  I set a personal target to run 5km every day, no matter where I was working, what the weather was like, what I was doing socially, or how I was feeling.    

Safe to say that finding the mental strength to get out and do it was tougher than the physical challenge.

So what effect did it have?  Well, I certainly became a lot fitter physically.  But at home and at work I felt more energetic and more alert.  I slept better, made better decisions, felt more motivated and driven, but also felt calmer and more focused.

I am so proud that I successfully completed the challenge and actually surpassed my personal target by covering over 200km in the month.

And despite taking the time out to run each day, I still got more done at work and was more attentive to my family at home.

The current challenge is building on that foundation and running increasingly longer distances, so that I will be able to cover 13.1 miles in March and May.  A different mental and physical test, but one that I hope will have a positive effect – not only on me directly, but more importantly on the awareness and the funds that I’ll be raising in support of mental health initiatives to benefit others.  It’s a win-win!

If anything that I’ve said resonates with you, please do show your support here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/scott-siwicki4