For many people, the past seven months have been the most difficult months of their lives. The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic has certainly hit everyone hard.
Cases of mental health problems are on the up, and unfortunately, an increase in suicides as people struggle to cope with ‘the new normal’. It’s been really tough.
At the beginning of lockdown, I had all these good intentions to get fit, go for a run or do a workout every day – I’d even put together a weekly fitness plan – as I seem to stick to things when they’re planned in as part of my day.
Fast-forward to the beginning of April. My workout plan had gone out of the window, as had my fitness. Working from home every day was beginning to take its toll just a few weeks in, and this was just the start of a small, downwards spiral in the life of Luke. Every evening, I’d finish work between four and 4:30pm, crack open a beer, and jump in the newly-purchased Lay-Z spa hot tub I’d managed to nab from the Argos website. And that, essentially, was my daily routine for about three months.
I’m not sure what happened in July, but everything suddenly hit me like a tonne of bricks. I began to realise that my ‘new normal’ wasn’t sustainable, and that if I carried on living the way I was living, I’d continue to put on even more weight than the few kilograms I’d already accrued. And with this, my mental health was taking a bit of a battering. The one thing I knew was my outlet, my go-to exercise of running, had been completely neglected.
I’ve always been a keen runner. Since running the 2010 Bupa London 10k (as it was named at the time), I’ve ran a competition every year – including the London Marathon in 2018 and Brighton Marathon in 2019. I have always LOVED running. Whether it’s running on my own with headphones on, Chase & Status or Pendulum pumping through me, or in a group, chatting to my fellow runners about what I had for dinner the previous night – I bloody love running. I get a real buzz out of it.
I needed my life to change. My day job was becoming mundane and boring (I work in communications, but the company I was working for at the time was massively sapping my creative flair), and I didn’t really have anything going on in my personal life as both my wife and I worked at home every day… so kind of ran out of things to talk about!
So, in my spare time, I decided to start up an Instagram account, @StressSessions and accompanying podcast, The Stress Sessions, to tell people about my mental health journey over the past couple of years, with the intention of helping a handful of people out.
But what started off as me telling my mental health story became much bigger. My friends and family began to open up about their own, personal struggles – and what I’d originally set out to do – to get people talking about mental health, was achieved overnight. It was amazing!
As I began to search Instagram for other paths to go down, I asked my followers, which had grown to over 1,000, what topics I should cover in future podcast episodes. With suggestions of postnatal depression, insomnia and imposter syndrome, to name a few.
This is when I discovered Run Talk Run, a weekly 5km run to talk about mental health, whilst running. TWO OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS! After scrolling and scrolling, I came across the Hackney Run Talk Run and their Leader, Chloe. After messaging back and forth, I pledged to join the team. But – and – there was a ‘but’, Milton Keynes didn’t currently have a Run Talk Run group. After a brief chat with Founder, Jess Robson, I decided to set up my own Run Talk Run in Milton Keynes, which now meets every Tuesday evening.
And I’ve not looked back.
Through my podcast and Instagram page, The Stress Sessions, I’ve met lots of lovely people who are happy to talk about their mental health, and in Run Talk Run I’ve also found like-minded people who want to do the same too. It’s amazing, and I can’t thank Jess – and Chloe, Leader of the Hackney Run Talk Run – enough, for introducing me.
Looking back over the last six months, I really feel like I’ve grown and have found my calling life. And that’s all down to the fantastic Run Talk Run, and everyone who has supported me with my @StressSessions Instagram account and The Stress Sessions podcast (available on all podcast platforms!) – which now has eight live episodes – including one with Run Talk Run Founder, Jess! ☺.
I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to speak if you’re suffering from a mental health problem, whether that’s to a friend, family member or colleague. And my DMs are always open if you’re having a hard time or just want a chat. Just remember to KEEP SPEAKING! It’s so, so important for your mental health.