RED January: Elizabeth gets active to support her mental health

15 January 2020 . United Kingdom

To help kick-start 2020 in a positive way, mental health charity Mind and RED January are joining forces to challenge communities to be more active. Whether it is jogging, yoga, or walking to work, the challenge encourages people to beat the January blues with exercise.

Elizabeth running

Elizabeth Parkes, Executive Recruitment Administrator for Bupa UK, has taken up the challenge. She explains why she decided to get involved, how she’s finding it, and her passion for raising awareness of mental health.

What is the RED January challenge?

The challenge aims to show people that exercise is a great way to improve your mood. By doing it every day, you’re more likely to make exercise a habit in the long term.

January is considered one of the gloomiest months of the year in the UK, so the challenge encourages people to start the year as they mean to go on. Daily activity can range walking around the park to skipping in the kitchen.

Why did you get involved with the challenge?

I hadn’t heard of it until we received an email from Mind just before Christmas. From the get-go I was interested. A few colleagues have joined in and it’s not too late to start!

Raising awareness of mental health is important to me because my mum had severe mental health issues and was in and out of hospital when I was growing up. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression too. The more people understand about mental health, the better.

Why is it important to prioritise mental health inside and outside of work?

Mental health has a huge impact on all areas of a person’s life. It is strongly linked to physical health, so if you’re stressed, you’re more likely to get run down or sick.

Often when someone is struggling with their mental health, it isn’t taken as seriously as a physical illness…but it should be. That’s why it’s so important to keep speaking about it, so people understand it more know when to reach out for extra care and support.

My manager at Bupa has been so supportive of my mental health. Recently, I’ve had several situations with sick relatives, I’ve moved to a new house twice and had an operation. If he hadn’t given me the time I needed, I would have ended up getting sick from the stress, which happens a lot.

How are you finding the challenge so far?

I am finding it hard doing something active every day, but I feel so much better for it. I tend to struggle in January but this year I have something to look forward to after work that gets my endorphins going. By the end of the month I hope to reach 10K. I am nearly there, yesterday I ran 7K!

What will you do to celebrate completing the challenge?

I’ll keep the habit up because I really enjoy running. But I’ll definitely have a day off when the challenge is over!

If you are interested in getting involved, find out more about the challenge.