The thing about mental health is, everyone has an opinion on it. Everyone has a medicine or a therapy to recommend, or they suggest a breathing or thinking technique that we just have to try. Long-term followers of Just The Three Of Us will know that I suffer from depression and severe anxiety. Over the years I’ve tried many different methods to ease my symptoms. I know that nothing can fully cure mental health issues, but I know something that helps when I feel particularly low, and it work’s every single time.
If you follow us on social media you’ll know we recently re-homed a dog. Millie is a bundle of fun who requires regular walks, which means getting outdoors at least once a day. We usually walk Millie in the evenings, as the children are at school for most of the day. It’s lovely to have a snippet of family time with no technology or to-do lists to distract us.
Having a dog and getting outdoors isn’t just good for us as a family, it’s also been hugely beneficial to my mental health.
Exercise is highly recommended for those suffering with depression and/or other mental health issues. It releases the four happy hormones, endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.
Until Millie came along, the furthest I walked on a daily basis was to and from the children’s school. I’m not lazy, I’m just not the exercising type. I’d far rather stay at home with the children and get the jobs done than go for a jog! Now I look forward to our evening walks as the sun goes down. The children love exploring nature, playing with the dog and listening to the birds sing their evening song.
School pick up can be stressful. The 10 minute walk home can feel like a marathon when the children are tired and hungry. Before we had a reason to get outside, that angst often continued until bedtime. A 10-20 minute walk after dinner has transformed our evenings because breathing in fresh air and taking a short walk along the nearby country lane relaxes my soul.
Walking allows me to escape the world of worry, just for a while.
I’m not saying get a dog and walk it every evening. I know that owning an animal just isn’t practical for many families, but I am saying get outdoors. It may be the last thing you want to do after a busy day, but I promise you’ll start to notice a distinct difference in your mood.
For me, fresh air really is the best medicine.