The Year of Wellbeing is an opportunity to promote and share personal good practice and to engage, learn and grow from the experience of other people.
I would encourage others to be physically active and demonstrate how that can have a direct effect on mental wellbeing. Taking part in exercise, whether in a group or on your own can raise self-confidence, self-esteem, create friendships, be fun, sociable and have positive side effects of losing weight, feeling healthier and being fitter for life.
I play squash every day and I commute to work and the gym by bicycle almost every day of the year. Squash is a great sport, one of the healthiest and calorie burning activities available. There are many clubs that offer ladies only sessions if preferred, however, squash is a sport that can be played at any level regardless of age, gender or ability…there is always someone that you can have a fun-filled competitive game with.
Getting on your bike is a cheap and easy way to stay active, if possible ditch the car and leave it at home, especially if you only need to travel a few miles. Cycling can be carried out in a group, however, I commute alone each day and value the silence, thinking time and the freedom of the open road…stopping to admire a sunrise, sunset or just a view…I stop, I take photos, or I just sit, listen and think…the benefits are endless.
I have personally benefited from my active lifestyle which rocketed into action the year my mother passed away, I struggled and I still struggle if I think about the bad stuff too much. For me exercise is the best distraction life can offer, as a result I am stronger on every level and this helps me to deal with other issues that life constantly throws at me. I feel I am getting stronger and stronger the older I get and the more experiences I allow myself to be a part of or have to face.
I take time to help others, giving my time freely makes me feel good about myself. I volunteer at events, mostly squash events. I get to meet new people and know that my time is helping others enjoy their lives…by spectating, taking part or volunteering as I do.
I am also a Coventry Ambassador and a Ride Leader for British Cycling, being a part of these two organisations offers many volunteering opportunities over the year.
Although I work full time, I am also an on call Retained Firefighter for Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service. This means that every night of the week I am available to respond to emergencies across Warwickshire and neighbouring counties. I offer between 70-100 hours a week and I feel honoured to be able to serve my community in such an extraordinary way!
As part of a new initiative, I am part of a Hospital to Home Team. So once or twice a week, I am available to assist older people to be transported from hospital to their place of home or residence. This service is offered to those that have no family or friends available to take them home. Once we take them home, we settle them into their home, check smoke alarms, and make them a snack and a hot drink if required. This service has been very well received, allowing patients to recover quicker in their own familiar environment and releasing beds in hospitals for other patients.
I have a lot of good days, but I’m only human and have bad days too…sometimes life gets the better of me, the things I do and the things I see…some things cannot be unseen or unheard and it is at this point I turn to my fitness regime or others for help. It’s good to talk, it’s good to share and it can help you see or think clearer.
I hope to continue with my lifestyle, doing the best I can do, until I know better, then I’ll do better. Trying to always do what I love and continue to love what I do…with a smile and plenty of laughter along the way.
My biggest downfall is not saying no, so I will try to be a little bit selfish occasionally and look after myself and making time to reflect and having some self-care time for me.
I wish everyone a positive Year of Wellbeing!
About the authour
Alison works for Warwickshire Libraries, and is always on the go. She loves squash and cycling, and is also a retained firefighter. Read more in her Year of Wellbeing blog. Her extraordinary energy and staying power are an example to anyone wondering about the wellbeing benefits of physical activity.