Credit: The Mental Health Foundation
Did you know that May 9-15th this year is Mental Health Awareness Week? At Bluefin SUPs, we’re marking this week by teaming up with Andy’s Man Club to talk about this year’s theme of loneliness. In particular, we’ll be looking at ways to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness to ensure that nobody goes through periods of mental ill-health alone.
What is Mental Health Awareness Week about?
Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event to highlight the importance of having good mental health. It was founded by the Mental Health Foundation 21 years ago, with each annual event focusing on a different theme to try to open up discussion around topics that affect everyone, from all walks of life. Part of the problem around mental health is the stigma that often goes with certain conditions like depression, which can lead to people suffering in silence. Fortunately, times are changing and more people are opening up about mental health issues, thanks to organisations and groups like Andy’s Man Club, which offers talking groups to men of all ages who may have previously struggled to talk openly about their mental health.
Challenging the stigma
We’re long-time supporters of Andy’s Man Club, which was founded in 2016 by Luke Ambler and his family after the tragic death of his brother-in-law Andy, who they lost without warning to suicide at just 23 years old. It’s sadly not uncommon, as stats show that one man takes his own life every two hours in the UK. One of the contributing factors is thought to be that men don’t talk enough about their problems or how they’re feeling. That’s why Luke and Andy’s mother Elaine set about creating talking groups for everyone but especially men, who may be going through a difficult time and want to talk, or even just listen to others in a safe, non-judgemental environment.
Today, Andy’s Man Club runs in over 60 locations across the UK, offering sessions encouraging talking, listening, sharing, and learning, with no obligation to do anything the attendee isn’t comfortable with.
Luke is keen for us to recognise the signs of ill mental health and to take positive steps to overcome it. He visited Bluefin HQ earlier this year and had this to say:
“In the midst of the storm, there’s overwhelm, there’s fear, anxiety…constant questions of what if, what’s going to be? Am I enough? Is this ever going to end? But it’s not until the storm settles that you get the clarity that you need.
“Nature is the answer, getting outside. Away from the expectation, away from the pressures of being more, doing more and just breathing…taking in everything that’s been gifted to us. The water, the fields, the hills, the mountains, the trees and the woods… here is where you’ll find the answers.”
What can I do to help tackle feelings of loneliness?
At Bluefin, we’re big advocates of getting out outdoors to support good mental health and help control symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s clinically proven that spending time in fresh air can help to regulate these conditions by producing more of the ‘happy’ chemicals in our brains to stave off any feelings of low mood.
The great thing about stand-up paddleboarding is that it’s totally adaptable to how you’re feeling. While some might want to spend some quiet time alone, there’s a whole social side to SUPing to tap into if you’re feeling down and a bit isolated. Here are just a few suggestions:
Road trips and bucket lists
Why not team up with a SUP buddy (or crew if you’re feeling up to it) and make a road trip of it? Visit somewhere you’ve had on your bucket list for years or that place you and your bestie said you’d go ‘if you had the time’ some eighteen months ago? It’s the perfect excuse to get back in touch with friends and family and reconnect over something you’re passionate about. Besides, everyone deserves a break now and again. Get that weekend in the diary now!
SUPing in tandem
Ever tried tandem paddling on a board like our Cruise 15’? There’s so much going for it! Spend some quality time out with a partner or take along that mate who’s always been curious about paddleboarding for a taster session. It’s much easier to get some quiet time to chat than going for dinner or drinks and you’ll both get to benefit from the experience.
If you’ve been there, done that with tandem paddling, how about upping the ante with some group SUPing? Forget about individual boards, SUPs like our Mammoth are built for taking up to 10 people at once. It’s a surefire way to bond with family and friends as anyone can get involved, you don’t need to be a pro and you can have a giggle all at the same time.
Social media is a great way of staying in touch with like-minded SUPers. It’s easy to find details of clubs and groups in your area to join, as well as upcoming events to go to. You could even try your hand at something new like SUP yoga, which is known to have a calming effect on the mind.
The power of pets
Don’t underestimate the effect of taking your pup along for some paddling fun! Dogs love being near water and let’s face it, they’re never going to argue with you! Even if they end up spending more time swimming than on the board with you, they provide countless hours of top-notch company and entertainment and are a great ice breaker when it comes to striking up conversations with new friends you’ll no doubt encounter along the way.
To find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week, visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/.
You can find details of Andy’s Man Club and your nearest group at https://andysmanclub.co.uk/
We’re supporting mental health awareness week by donating a percentage of sales made May 9th-15th to Andy’s Man Club