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Work, eat, sleep, repeat

As World Mental Health Day approaches, Paths for All Development Officer Nicole Bell asks, is it time to do something different for our mental health?

Published: 07/10/2020

In May, we asked whether walking was our superpower in a time of anxiety. Back then, fitting in regular walking activity was a way of building a sense of routine at a time when everything felt upside down.

Now, for many of us, with the continuing restrictions as they are, our lives can feel like they are playing on loop. I have heard many speak of 'Groundhog Day' being their new normal, with life’s lack of variety impacting quite negatively on people’s wellbeing. This seems to be particularly true for those of us working from home, where sometimes it can feel like the only thing distinguishing one day from the next is whether you find yourself on Teams calls more than Zoom calls, or vice versa.

With World Mental Health Day on the horizon, it is worth examining whether a change to our routines could support our wellbeing. The Step Count Challenge, by its nature, has always offered the opportunity to break away from the routines and habits which negatively impact our health. It motivates us to hold ourselves to account; ditch the desk, move to a new headspace, get outside, and just walk. In doing so, it improves productivity, sleep and,  crucially, mood. This is more important now than ever.

Recent evidence gathered from Step Count Challenge participants demonstrated a statistically significant increase in life satisfaction, happiness and the sense of life being worthwhile for those who took part. So, could we capitalise on these benefits and disrupt the repetition of our ‘new normal’ at the same time?

Recently, I went out for my first ever lunchtime run. Now, I am not a runner. I did not enjoy every moment of my run. But, somehow, I felt utterly liberated. While I am sure the endorphins had their part to play, for me, it was the fact that I had challenged myself to do something different and that my day was no longer a carbon copy of those that had come before that genuinely lifted my spirits.

There are so many things we could do to change things up, a walk in the rain before work, taking in a new perspective from a standing desk, perhaps exploring a new route one lunchtime? The autumn Step Count Challenge presents a real chance to do something different. We should take it.