I set out to ride every day in October. It was something I wanted to do to beat the winter blues that I often feel this time each year and also try to raise some sort of awareness around mental health. I might not have gone on about RED October as much as I had planned originally (more on that in another post at a later date), but I have achieved what I set out to do, ride each of the 31 days of October.

Distance and Time covered on the bike through 31 days of October

I never set a plan of how long or how far I would ride, just so long as I got on the bike and enjoyed the time on it. I often feel I can’t be bothered with the effort to get ready to go out, especially now it’s getting cold and wet. But once I am on the bike I never regret it. A few minutes into a ride and all is forgotten about the thought of going out.

Regular exercise causes the body to release endorphins into the bloodstream. These chemicals work by diminishing the perception of pain and they also act as a sedative. This is why for a lot of mild mental illnesses, regular exercise can help more than you might think.

I’ll go into more detail over the next few posts here about exercise and mental health, but in essence, it makes you feel good. You don’t have to go out beating targets on every venture, you just need yo get out and raise that heart rate for a little while. Not only will you feel better mentally, but it could also help your body if you’re, like me, trying to lose weight.

But if you are struggling, there is help. Initially, your first point of call should be your GP. England is now heading into another lockdown as of Thursday and mental health is more critical than ever before now! Finances can be a huge catalyst for mental illness and I can only see things getting worse before they get better again through this pandemic.

If you’re not feeling yourself, you feel anxious, can’t sleep or even don’t have the motivation to do day-to-day thing, see your GP. If things are even worse and you’re thinking of the unimaginable… there are people who want to help you.

SAMARITANS

Call anytime day or night: 116 123 (from a UK phone)
Email if you don’t want to phone: jo@samaritans.org (response within 24 hours)

If you just need someone to talk to, but you would rather write a letter (they can feel a lot more personal than a call or an email) you can do that too. Send it to Chris, FREEPOST RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA.

You can explain your situation in as much detail as you feel comfortable with and we’ll aim to reply within 7 days. A hand-written response that you can keep and refer to may also suit you better.

Sometimes people worry that they can’t write well. You don’t need to worry about spelling, grammar or the quality of your handwriting. You can write freely, without embarrassment or fear of being judged.

Write to Simaritans

If you’re feeling you don’t need to go as far as actually speaking to someone, but you’re still feeling lost, Samaritans also have an online app where you can track your mood, access helpful techniques to deal with how you’re feeling and also build a “safety net”. This can be accessed via https://selfhelp.samaritans.org/.

We can all get through tough times with each other. Those of us who feel alright might notice something different in a friend, family member or even colleague. Just asking how someone is could help them through their day. Take the time to check on those you feel might be vulnerable to mental illness – you never know, it just might save their life.