Having overcome her own battle with depression and using exercise as her way through it, Sally Wilkinson is on a mission to encourage others to get active.
After realising the importance of face to face interaction, and her own mental health battles when she mainly communicates via the online world, Sally is encouraging people to step outdoors to get moving and socialising, while encouraging more open discussions around the subjects of depression, anxiety, loneliness and isolation.
Sally, who has her own fitness business, hopes that the four mile Mind over Miles walk this Sunday will bring people together to enjoy the autumn air and to connect, and she is extending the invite to anyone who would like to be a part of it.
It starts at 9am at VVV Health and Leisure club car park at the end of Morecambe prom and will go to the Eric Morecambe statue and back.
Sally said: “We can all at some point feel alone or isolated, which is why I have started these walks as an opportunity to spread the word and offer some support to those who need it.
“It’s important people realise they are not alone and I want to highlight how something as simple as some fresh air, exercise and good chat can make you see things differently – even if only for that moment.
“When you are suffering anxiety, depression, loneliness or isolation, very often everything seems too much and you can’t underestimate the positive impact exercising outdoors can help alleviate this.
“I realise that for some this event will seem too much – meeting new people, putting on a smile, doing something out of their routine – however I’d love to give anyone who needs it a big hug, to be able to tell them that they can come out the other side like I did, so if you’re nervous bring a friend, or just pop along for the first mile – every step counts and every release from the turmoil you feel is a positive one.
“I’d also love to open this walk up to anyone and everyone as I’d just love to get more people out and about.
“We all feel pressures and stresses even if we don’t suffer from anxiety or mental health challenges – just day to day life challenges can take their toll – and a walk in the fresh air is a great way to escape from these too.”
Sally’s worst time came after a number of financial troubles in the 2008 recession due to the property market crash.
She went from having a strong portfolio of properties and income, and working as a fitness instructor and doing regular exercise, to barely moving, consumed with stress and worry and instead turning to comfort eating, and drinking too much.
At her lowest point she describes herself as an ‘immobile hermit’.
From being in such a dark place Sally resonates with others who are struggling.
She said: ”I just felt so embarrassed and ashamed and I wasn’t able to be happy even when I was trying to be. I remember always being sat on the sofa, the edge of a chair, or perched on a window ledge for hours on end, just feeling numb and lifeless, not wanting to make the effort to see anyone.”
Eventually Sally found a way to force herself to get up and get on with her day, when she set herself the challenge to undertake an Ironman, and it was this point that changed her life forever.
Fast forward four years and she now no longer suffers from the debilitating effects of depression, and runs a successful fitness business with a thriving online community and an online private membership group, as well as health and fitness retreats in the UK and Portugal.
While being in a much happier place, Sally has come to realise that feeling lonely can also have a huge effect on our mental health, especially for someone who works for themselves a lot as it’s too easy to forget what real life interaction can be and the importance it plays in our health and our relationships.
Sally said: “Walking in the fresh air for no other reason than just because you can has saved me on many occasions, truly it has! Exercise and laughter really are the best medicine!
“This is a free walk for everyone! I would love to make these walks a regular thing, so let’s aim for at least 10 people on the first walk.
“I promise you’ll be guaranteed a laugh as well as getting some steps in.”
For more info please contact Sally through facebook.com/thesallywilkinson