Why I WALK IT: Walking for a healthy mind

24 June 2020

Bronwyn had not registered for a WALK IT event this year but when My WALK IT coincided with her quest to improve her lockdown wellbeing, she decided that this was the challenge for her.

I am currently shielding so I was doing the NHS.uk exercises to keep me moving and working hard as a teacher to make sure my students were happy and had enough work. Then, one morning, I just woke up feeling really fed up and couldn’t stop crying.  My husband took me for a drive in the car to take my mind off things, and when I got home I started thinking of ways I can keep my mind and body healthy and get out of this mood. I thought I’d get up very early and go for a walk, or go out when it’s raining and not many people would be around. I felt better after the first short walk and decided to do it every day, which is when I got an email telling me about My WALK IT.

I have never done WALK IT before. I wanted to do it last year but didn’t really have the confidence as I’m not the fittest person in the world and I was worried I wouldn’t get the whole way around. However when I got back from one of my walks and saw this email, I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to raise money for this brilliant charity whilst doing something I was already doing. I’ve used the website constantly during lockdown to find out the latest advice for shielders and what to do in case of a flare, so it feels good to be able to give something back. Another positive for my mental health!

Of course I was a bit reluctant at first, but actually it’s a win-win situation: I’m doing something for my physical and mental health while Crohn’s & Colitis UK get some much-needed money from donations.

I'm doing the walk alone to minimise my risk so I will listen to music like I do each morning. This stops me focussing on the distance and gives me a beat to walk to when I start flagging. On my daily walks I go around my local area, just in case I need to get home quickly, so I have my 10k route planned like this too and I will do it when there are not too many people around.

I think my biggest challenge will be my energy levels. 10K is a long way when you’ve been indoors for almost three months and, although I’ve been building my distance up daily, I’m still not quite there. I know My WALK IT can be done in two separate shifts, but I’m a bit stubborn and I really want to do it all in one go. I must admit though, it does feel good having the flexibility to stop if I need to.

If you’re not sure if you can do it, give it a go with an early morning or evening walk.  At first I wished I’d signed up for the 5k as I didn’t think I’d do it, but having a challenge to focus on has really helped me. As for shielding, I really believe that you have to find a balance between keeping yourself safe from coronavirus and protecting your mental health. I get up at 6am, throw on some jeans and a t-shirt and hit the road and I hardly see another person so it’s all safe. Some days I feel like staying in bed, but once I get out I’m so glad I did because it sets me up for the day and makes me feel motivated to get through.

Stay close to home if it makes you feel more confident. Even just walking around the streets near you or your local park counts so bite the bullet and go for it. You’ll be so glad you did!

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