My quest to ride every day through October is going well. Of 7 days I have completed a ride on each day. I might not have gone far, I might not have gone long… but the point is I’ve been out and got a ride in each day.
Taking time to make oneself feel better mentally is hugely important right now. 2020 delivered a blinder in mental health issues for the whole world. I, myself, am preparing for it to get worse again through this incoming winter period. This is partly why I’ve found completing RED October so good so far.
Last year, ITV released a campaign called “Britain Get Talking”. It’s almost like they knew what was coming in 2020. Joking aside, it’s a campaign to get people closer again, to get people talking about anything and everything. Talking to someone can be one of the best methods of getting through tough times.
Mental illness such as stress and depression is still heavily stigmatised in the social world. Research shows that men are most likely to keep it bottled inside as they don’t want to show a sign of weakness. It’s true, the amount I used to bottle up was huge until I eventually cracked. Since then, I know I can talk to my wife about anything I need to. Just the same with anything she’s feeling.
Statistically conditions such as anxiety, depression, phobias, OCD and panic disorders are diagnosed more in women than in men. But, almost three-quarters of mental illness related suicides are male, not female. This might not be 100% correct, but it’s what I get from looking around on the internet, especially from mentalhealth.org.uk.
Even if you’re in a good place at the moment, those around you might not be. A simple “Hey, how are you” to someone you’ve not spoken to for a while could be a life-saving line.
If someone you know appears to be moaning a lot about what you think is not relevant or important, just listen. It could well be important to them. Just you listening and talking back about the subject can instantly make them feel at ease. It’s communication and it’s something which, as humans, we thrive on.
Awareness of mental health has been gaining more and more traction over the last few years. More celebrities are talking about their experiences in hope that others who are struggling will seek help. Whenever this COVID pandemic ends, there will be a huge mental toll left on the world’s population.
I have found over the last couple of years that cycling frees me from a lot of built-up emotion and stress. It’s not just because I’m away from things like the news, work or home that may be causing the stress, but because it gives me that alone time to re-evaluate what has been building up.
It’s also chemical. When we exercise, our body releases a hormone called endorphins. If you exercise regularly (not every day but as often as you feel comfortable), your body will release more and more endorphins into your bloodstream. This is proven to:
- Reduce stress
- Ward off anxiety and feelings of depression
- Boost self-esteem
- Improve sleep
All of these lead to a better state of mind. This is why I am riding every day through October.