Hannah's passion for running and walking helped her mum to reignite old passions. It also inspired Hannah to set up her own unique charity challenge.
I'm generally a positive and outgoing person, but do have days when I'd prefer to shy away from the world. At times I’ll feel nervous when I put on my trainers, worried that people may judge me for not being my usual confident self. During one of these days, I thought long and hard about my dear mum.
My mum has suffered with depression for a number of years, resulting in her taking time off work, going for weeks without seeing the light of day.
Feeling helpless, I thought about the positive effects exercise can have on my mind when I'm feeling a little low and wondered if it could help my mum in some way. I started researching fitness challenges that we could do together. Growing up, I always remember my mum being a keen walker and so to try and reignite one of her old passions, I signed us up to the Walk the Walk MoonWalk (a midnight marathon through London).
My mum's response was slightly apprehensive at first, but I knew that with support we could get through this together.
The months of training that followed were quite extraordinary. I would regularly call home to hear my dad saying that my mum was out on one of her long walks with our dogs. When I spoke to her, she sounded tired, yet excitable. For the first time in a long time, I was chatting to my charmingly witty and stubborn yet determined mum. My mum was on a mission - a mission to prove to herself that she could do this.
The effects weren't just on my mum’s fitness levels, but also her eating habits. With time, she started feeding her body to give it energy, rather than overeating to try and feed those feelings of anxiety. Within months, my mum was ready to take on the challenge.
Crossing the finishing line hand in hand with my mum, tears of joy rolling down our faces, will forever be one of our fondest memories.
Since doing the challenge, my mum still enjoys walking regularly. She's not cured of her depression, but now knows how to help manage periods of feeling low. The challenge gave her the confidence she needed to take back some control of her emotions. I know it's not always easy for her, but I can see her fighting back, determined to get out of bed and out into the world. Witnessing first-hand the life-changing effect having a goal and focus had on my mum, made me think about everyone that has, will, or is currently experiencing more dark days than light.
I've enjoyed running for the past 8 years. During this time, my relationship with running has evolved. It first started as a free way to stay fit and something I would do from time-to-time, soon turning into a more regular thing as I started to feel and see the benefits. Before I knew it, I was signing up to races, enjoying the challenge of pushing my mind and body further each time.
Now in my early 30's, running for me isn't just about training for races, it's become a huge part of who I am. It helps me to collect my thoughts and, at times, turn my thoughts off. It releases any stress and worries. It also gives me a feeling of independence and freedom in the hustle and bustle of life.
The impact this has had on me inspired me to come up with R.E.D January – a charity challenge helping to shine a light on mental health problems, all in aid of Mind. January is renowned as being a depressing time of the year for a lot of people, but by running every day (that’s where the R.E.D comes in), you can help to dispel the dark days and nights. It can help you to get fit(ter) and make a difference to people’s lives – including your own. You can find out more by clicking on the link below.
Remember, don’t be blue in January, get R.E.D!
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