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I lost my brother Joshua in a road traffic accident in Vietnam in 2011. He was only 22 and as a family, our lives have not been the same since his death. I suffered two bouts of deep depression.

Shortly after my brother died, I turned to exercise as a form of solace, a place to be with him in my thoughts. I soon realised the benefits of exercise on my mental health. It didn’t eradicate the negative self-thoughts, the ‘beating up’ or at times the lack of lust for life that my depression had a hold of, but it did provide light relief and time for self-care and to soothe what felt like my battered mental health.

Going into therapy to understand more about myself, my grief for my brother and the relationships in my life was the true game-changer. This gave me the ‘tools’, the foundation and education about myself to feel more positive and to understand the triggers to my depression and self-loathing. Daily exercise and a healthy diet then became my ‘splint’, ticking me over, ensuring a daily kick of endorphins and alertness to life from the physical exertions on my body. I began to gain much more self-worth, self-esteem and a real connection with my physical self. I was no longer just living in my body, I owned it and felt physically more connected with it. I can safely say that after my brother Joshua died, almost 10 years ago now, if it were not for some important people in my life that supported me through – encouraging me to share my thoughts and feelings – for the therapeutic journey I embarked upon and the commitment to an active lifestyle, I would not be in the place I am today.

Talking about our mental health still seems to be such a hard hurdle for many of us to jump. How many times will we think that our troubles should be trivialised in comparison to others? that we may deem ourselves weak or lacking in strength for showing that we ‘can’t cope’. Or that we worry about what other people may think of us? The FACT is that almost all of us will suffer some form of mental health challenge. YOU are not alone in this. Loved ones WILL UNDERSTAND There is SUPPORT out there. To SHARE your feelings is to show STRENGTH I feel so fortunate to have a ‘job’ that is completely focused on supporting people’s health and wellbeing.

Physical and Mental Health go hand in hand and as a Personal Trainer, I am invested in both. Life can be wonderous and it can also give us a real bumpy ride. What is so important is that we are kind and generous to ourselves. That we don’t trivialise our own challenges and ‘problems’ and seek support when we need it. Never undervalue the importance of physical exercise to support our mental health. It can be our saviour in those hardest of times. In solidarity with anyone that has suffered from their mental health or has been bereaved.