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Brave The Weather Together: Meet Dan and Ann-Marie 

Mind volunteers Dan and Ann-Marie share how getting outdoors has helped their mental health. 

Getting outside and into nature can benefit both our mental and physical wellbeing. Whether it’s a long walk through your local woodland or simply stepping out for a breath of fresh air, spending time outdoors can give us a much-needed break from the stresses of life.  

It’s why we’re donating £5 to our charity partner Mind for every purchase of a full price Seasalt raincoat or jacket – to support Mind’s vital services and help raise awareness about the benefits of spending time outdoors. The campaign is part of our commitment to Mind to raise £100,000 per year, for three years running (2021-23). 

This World Mental Health Day, Mind volunteers Dan and Ann-Marie share their stories and tell us how getting outdoors has helped their mental health. 

We all have a different relationship to nature, but Mind have a range of suggestions for bringing its benefits into your life, whatever your personal situation. From gardening and growing to walking and nature watching, there is space for all of us to step out into nature. 

Read Mind’s tips for getting outdoors here > 

Dan's Story

“I’ve long struggled with mental health, particularly severe anxiety and depression. It’s impacted many facets of my life, specifically jobs and relationships, leaving me feeling worthless, like a failure and at times as though there’s no place for me in this world.  

“More recently, I have been attempting to change tact and fight back, gaining a role at a mental health charity and trying to own my mental health problems. Embracing and hoping to speak up to encourage others in realising that it’s nothing to be ashamed of and the more normalisation that occurs, the better.  

Although I still experience bad days and it's far from easy, it's a case of recognising that these pass. They're just a moment in time and there are better times around the corner. 

“I’ve found that getting outside into nature massively helps. At times it’s tough and I’ve had to truly battle to push myself outside but, having done so, I always feel better for it. I generally go for a run in the village I live in. The route’s quiet which I prefer and just being surrounded by nature is revitalising and helps immeasurably."

Getting into nature and immersing myself, I always feel better, almost as if I reset myself.  

“When people ask if I’m OK, it reminds me that there are people out there who care for me, that I’m not alone and that fighting on in the face of adversity is worth it. It is vital we check in on each other. Don’t take the initial “I’m fine”, persist and ask genuinely. Life is stressful for everyone, we all have struggles to navigate and knowing that there are people who care and will provide support cannot be underestimated.” 

Ann-Marie's Story

“I have suffered with my mental health for many years, but things came to a head on February 14th, 2020, when I attempted to take my own life and was sectioned for 5.5 weeks. I had been suffering with severe depression for months, not eating or drinking properly, not maintaining self-care – I was a mess. 

“Those 5.5 weeks were the worst of my life. I was physically and emotionally abused by the staff on the unit. I was suffering from psychosis and was having hallucinations. I don’t remember much about those weeks, just a terrifying feeling of fear and loneliness. 

“It took another two bad episodes over the next two years before I was eventually diagnosed with bipolar and PTSD due to my experiences whilst sectioned. 

“It has taken a lot of strength to pull myself out of that dark place. The medication helps but I believe that your attitude to life plays a big part, you have to want to help yourself before you can be helped. 

I personally find that exercise and fresh air are extremely beneficial to both my physical and mental health. 

“I have noticed that if my mood is low, my activity level is low and that’s a sign to make changes to my routine and include more exercise and self-care.  

“I currently volunteer with Manchester Mind’s walk and talk peer group. It is a group for all abilities and is totally different to the normal face to face and zoom groups. We walk and talk around a park, sharing our experiences and offering help and advice to each other. 

“The group has only been running for 8 weeks but members are already feeling the benefit of fresh air and exercise and it has encouraged most to increase their daily exercise regime.  

Mental health problems aren't always obvious but there are warning signs to look out for. 

“In my experiences, I become distant and withdrawn, I have a lack of motivation and lack interest in family life. I start neglecting self-care, not eating or drinking properly, not sleeping, refusing to leave the house and unable to make simple decisions. 

“Everyone’s experiences are different but just checking in with friends, family and even strangers makes all the difference. Just having a conversation about mental health issues should be commonplace nowadays as it helps so much just to open up to someone who will listen and not judge you.” 

If you or a loved one need help with mental health, you can find resources and helplines on Mind’s website. You can also find your Local Mind here

If you or a loved one need help with mental health, you can find resources and helplines on Mind’s website. You can also find your Local Mind here. 

Join the conversation by sharing your pictures or stories on social media with the hashtag #BraveTheWeatherTogether

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