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Sarah tells us how getting outside in Somerset has helped her mental wellbeing

Sarah Crossley, Marketing and Communications Officer at SASP, tells us how getting outside in Somerset has helped her mental wellbeing, “I’ve had OCD for as long as I can remember, but I haven’t always been able to find ways to manage it. It wasn’t until the first lockdown, that I truly realised the impact my low mental health was having on me. We all went from being active outdoors, seeing family and friends, to suddenly being confined to the four walls around us. I picked up more unhealthy habits; sleeping in until the afternoon, only seeing the sunsets, watching tv for 8+ hours a day and leaving my trainers to collect dust in the now rarely used shoe cupboard.

As evenings got lighter and days longer, I realised I was really missing the Somerset I once had access to on my doorstep. When I started seeing people utilise what outdoor space they had, something clicked for me. Somerset doesn’t just end its boundary when it reaches our front door, we live and breathe this county. The garden became a space to socialise with those I lived with, a photography studio, a gym room, a kitchen, a space to roller skate, and on the drier days, an office!

Being outside has always brought me joy, boosted my mood and relieved my intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. When I think back to that time, I think of the opportunities I missed to be more active in the space I had. I decided that when we were over the worst of Covid, and returned to our new normal, I’d never take for granted what I had waiting outside.

Now, I make it my goal each and every day to be more active, even if only for 15 minutes on the days where it feels impossible to do anything. Walking had been my blessing in disguise. Most lunchtimes, I now make it a mission to enjoy a walk, and by doing so I have discovered so much! Not just the new locations and picturesque scenes, but the benefits the fresh air gives me. I use this time to practice mindfulness, giving myself head space by being in an open space. Feeling the senses around me, the smell of the cold winter air, the sounds of birds singing, the rainbow of colours, springing from the trees. This boost makes me feel more like me. I feel happier, calmer and healthier, in body and mind.

It’s not about what the weather might be doing, where you can’t go or where you’ve already been before, it’s about enjoying Somerset for all the welcoming surprises it brings you.

Mental health has hit me in so many ways, but I now know how to make things seem that little bit easier. I am empowered by Somerset, and I have so much gratitude for that.”