Why I love a walk and talk (and you could too)
Updated: Jun 3, 2019
Lets get one thing straight. I am more of an indoors girl, than an outdoors girl. I am not a hiker, a biker neither do I camp. My idea of a perfect day is one where I have time to myself to shop for pretty stationery or spend hours in a book shop.
But! What I have discovered, whether I feel well or am in the grips of anxiety or depression, is the power of being outside and in good company. Going for a stroll and meeting other people who just seem to 'get it' transforms my mood like nothing else.
A friend and I set up Mental Health Mates Bucks after being inspired and meeting Bryony Gordon, Telegraph journalist, author, mental health advocate and general good egg. For both of us reading Bryony's column, her autobiographical 'Mad Girl' and 'Eat, Drink, Run' set us on a path towards volunteering to set up our own local walk and talk group, as Bryony did with the first MHM in London back in 2016.
The fact that my friend and I have know each other since we were toddlers, lost touch and never really re-connected until we were both separately being drawn along this path makes it all the more meaningful for me. We have different reasons for being involved; I can only speak for my own motivations but ultimately we seem both are in the relatively fortunate position to be able to use our experiences and skills to directly help others. We do this the through creating a non-judgemental space, a peer support group, within which its normal to discuss box sets or the weather one minute and experiences with severe depression, side-effects from medication, hospital stays and those small wins that those of us who are struggling often assume no one else may appreciate.
I would recommend attending a MHM to anyone directly affected by mental illness, those in recovery with or without diagnoses, anyone who thinks too much and thinks they are alone with their feelings and also those important others caring for a loved ones who is struggling.
Being a walk leader has the added advantage in generating a feeling of giving back through a regular commitment to planning walks and meetings. However, being a peer support group we all benefit from building relationships and learning from a variety of people from different backgrounds.
The most powerful thing about MHM is knowing we all have something in common, a striving to seek help to support our mental health and wellbeing, whatever that entails.
Personally, knowing I am not alone in having daily challenges with anxiety and depression through knowing others like me is helping me no end in reframing and accepting myself.
I’m starting to feel ok about my strengths and my weaknesses and hopefully am providing an example of sorts of how they can be brought together to achieve something hopefully meaningful for those in need within our local community.
To find out more about the Mental Health Mates movement and to find walks near you please visit www.mentalhealthmates.co.uk or search social media using hashtag #findyourwe
For the latest information and dates for walks and talks in Bucks (High Wycombe & Marlow) please request to join our Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/mhmbucks
For individual enquiries please get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MHM is not a substitute for therapy or medical advice. For details of resources including telephone numbers if you are in crisis please visit www.mentalhealthmates.co.uk/support/