Renfrewshire Council

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Joanne recommends movement and fresh air as "therapy for the soul"

Operational people partner and mental health first aider, Joanne Currans talks about how she cares for her emotional wellbeing by staying active.

A shot of a blonde woman from the back walking along a small path surrounded
Joanne on one of her daily walks
"I crave being outside and moving around in the fresh air because for me it's like therapy for the soul. A bit like my three-year-old Springer Spaniel, Leah, I need at least two good walks a day come, rain, hail or shine!

"There's something peaceful about nature and when I pair that with the rhythm of walking or running, it helps me to relax my mind and let go of the day's stresses. Listening to birds or noticing how the trees change throughout the seasons distracts me from the millions of thoughts that are always spinning around my head. It's my 'me time'—a moment of calm where I can process my thoughts, gain clarity and reset.

"I aim to run three 5ks each week as well as my daily walks, which sounds like a lot for a busy working parent to fit in. The trick is to plan ahead and aim for around 30-minutes of activity whenever I can.

"Most days I try to squeeze in a lunchtime walk and sometimes I take the opportunity to go for a run while the kids are at football, netball or dancing classes. If I have any spare time at the weekend, I tend to explore new places or catch up with friends over a long walk. Occasionally I even manage to bribe my two kids into coming along with me.

"My family and friends will tell you that "a wee walk" is my answer to a lot of life's problems. Getting out there always pays off and I've never once regretted the decision to exercise. I feel much better after 30 minutes walking than I do after 30 minutes watching TV!

A Springer Spaniel paddling in the sea
Joanne's walking companion Leah
"At work, I support managers and staff members with absence and health and wellbeing concerns, where mental health problems are often present.

"As a trained mental health first aider, I can help when someone is struggling and link them to the support they need.

"I hope that by speaking from my own experience about the positive benefits of staying active, it reminds others that there are simple, practical things you can do every day for your mental health.

"You don't have to be as energetic as me and Leah to feel those benefits, but when you do start to feel them, I promise you'll want to get moving even more!

"I recommend starting easy with some short walks. As you move, try to focus on the rhythm of your steps and breathing. Notice your surroundings and think about how they make you feel. 

"Renfrewshire and surrounding areas are truly beautiful with many parks, cycle paths and rural areas to explore. Not to mention there are plenty of great cafés where you can stop off for a coffee and a cake—I find this a great incentive to get out and move more!"

Published on Thursday 16 May 2024