Make a move to improve your health and wellbeing

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A woman who took to exercise to battle depression is encouraging others to find the strength to make the first move to getting help.

Annie, had spent most of her life suffering a number of mental health problems including OCD, self-harm, severe anxiety and suicidal ideation.

During her teens she turned to exercise in a bid to improve her health and mental wellbeing.

But five years ago her love for keeping fit started to wane and she eventually lost all her confidence.

Despite trying a number of times to kick-start her motivation, each time she failed, causing her anxiety and fear of failure to worsen.

She said: “Just getting through each day with my depression was hard enough. I simply didn’t have any motivation or strength left to put my theoretical knowledge and past experience of exercise into practice despite the benefits it promised. After five years I stopped trying and lost hope that I would ever have the ability to return to exercise again.”

Eventually after speaking to her GP, she was put in touch with Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, where she met Get Set To Go Co-ordinator, Andrew.

Abbie added: “Andrew shared a bit of his personal story and return to exercise after a period of depression.

“This really inspired me and gave me hope that a return to exercise might be possible for me with the right support.

“I didn’t have the courage to ask for help following the presentation. I was still afraid of failing again if I did try to take up exercise.

“However, a month later, at the Get Set To Go launch, I had a long conversation with Andrew and he reduced some of my fears about returning to exercise, so I completed a participant registration form that day. I was also encouraged to try the boxing activity he was running that day and it was a positive experience and I even let him record it.”

Over the following weeks, Abbie was given a set of two -minute exercises to do at home. After some weeks, she even felt brave enough to go for a swim and take part in the project’s circuit classes, helping to return her confidence.

She said: “I feel a lot better in myself and that excited that the ‘old, active me’ hasn’t completely died and is still able to do some of the things I used to enjoy. I feel more hopeful and my mental health has improved too.

“I’ve even started doing a local 5K Park Run every Saturday morning! I never thought I’d be able to do this again, and wouldn’t have done so without Get Set To Go.”

The charity’s Get Set To Go programme aims to help people to improve their quality of life, over the age of 18, with a mental health problem through access to sport in their local community.

Sports Co-ordinator Andrew Cowan said: “If you’ve got a mental health problem, finding the energy to be more active can be a struggle. It’s also hard finding an activity that feels right, while starting something new can sometimes feel scary. We also know that many people with mental health problems want to be active, but don’t know where to start, so we seek ways to help overcome the barriers some face when wanting to take up a sport or activity.”

In the past year, the project has engaged with approximately 70 participants and beneficiaries through these activities and meetings and is currently seeking more participant referrals and opportunities to deliver activities in South Tyneside.

For more information, contact Andrew Cowan on 4774545 or email andrew.cowan@tynesidemind.org.uk.

Our series of articles in the run-up to Christmas, supported by Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, aims to encourage people to reach out to others and let those struggling know support is available.

Today, people are asked to buddy up and exercise with a friend. That way you get the benefit