Welcome to the final installment of the SPRINT Project's mini blog post series on self-care, which was created to support Mental Health Awareness Week 2023.
We hope that you have enjoyed learning about the different activities that our team members do to take care of themselves. In this last post, we are highlighting the breadth of self-care activities that can be done and the wide-ranging benefits that they bring us.
As well as hearing from the head of the SPRINT Project Professor Jennifer Cumming, we are also including our newest additions to the team, Dr Karen Shepherd and Dr Sally Reynard!
Check out their activities below.
Name: Prof Jennifer Cumming
Self-care activity: Yoga
Why I do this activity: My job can often mean sitting or standing at my desk for long hours and leads to feeling sore and stiff. Yoga has been a great way for me to relax and unwind as well as to help ease pain from back and neck issues. Since the pandemic, I have enjoyed doing yoga from home via online classes with my friend and fantastic teacher, Sarah Beth Hunt of Messy Luminous Being. It has been easy to keep up a consistent and regular routine of doing yoga when all I need to do is roll out a mat in my front room and join a zoom call. An added bonus is getting the opportunity to practice being calm and focused with the busyness of family life surrounding me.
Tips for this activity: There are lots of different types of yoga classes and it is worth experimenting with a few to find the one that suits you best. If you would like to do yoga from home, all you need are some comfortable clothes, some room to move, and a non-slip mat or rug. I keep my yoga mat in the front room where I do my classes as a visual reminder and to make it as easy as possible for me to join in.
Name: Dr Karen Shepherd
Self-care activity: Running with my dog.
Why I do this activity: Delphi the spaniel has been my trusty running companion along the Cotswold Way for the last 6 years. Her enthusiasm for chasing rabbits is infectious, and running with my four-pawed pacer gives me uninterrupted time and space to be more mindful. Unlike running on a treadmill, I can focus on the changing scenery, enjoy the weather, and appreciate the different sounds and smells in the fresh air. This gives me a sense of being centred. It helps me reflect on what's happening in my life at that moment and gives me time to think about future plans or actions I want to make.
Tips for this activity: Be prepared to get wet/muddy/dirty. Waterproof running shoes and jacket means there's no excuse for staying indoors when the weather turns inclement...and leave the ear buds at home.
Name: Dr Sally Reynard
Self-care activity: Horse riding
Why I do this activity: Going out for a ride with my horse is a great distraction and a perfect way to gain some perspective and have fun. I particularly enjoy exploring new routes and spotting the local wildlife. I have had close encounters with lots of different animals on rides including deer, foxes, herons and even adder snakes!
Tips for this activity: If you're looking to get into or make a return to horse riding, contact your local approved riding stables. Sometimes you can be allowed to help out in return for lessons. Don't forget to wrap up warm if you go horse riding on a cold day, you'd be surprised how much more exposed to the elements you are when on top of a horse!
To find out more about this years Mental Health Awareness Week and learn about different mental health conditions and related topics visit the Mental Health Foundation's website.
Photo credit: Dr Sally Reynard, Dr Karen Shepherd and Canva.
Written by Dr Sally Reynard, Research Associate in the SPRINT project.