Perinatal mental health

Our guest blogger Natalie Nuttall is a mum of two and co-founder of perinatal peer support charity, SMILE Group. She tells how being active helped her deal with perinatal mental illness….

Looking after my mind, body and soul

There’s something very freeing about abandoning my phone and heading off for a brisk walk with our greyhound Hattie. Whatever the weather.

Having struggled with severe perinatal mental illness six years ago, I’m learning how to look after my mind, body and soul. While this takes a multitude of forms, one of the simplest ways for me to clear my head and reconnect with nature is to take the dog for a walk each day. With no mobile in hand, and an opportunity to engage my senses. It gives me the vital clarity I need in a busy day of emails, meetings and mental list-making of priorities.

Exercise and me time

We welcomed our second child in January 2015 and I gave myself the best chance of dealing with PND should it raise its ugly head again (thankfully it didn’t). I balanced gentle walks with the pram with rest, support and self-care. Exercise was a key form of self-care for me. Though not a naturally sporty person, I donned my trainers in the months that followed to take some ‘me time’. I went jogging round the streets of Macclesfield, culminating in a 5K run for SMILE Group eight months after giving birth. I’m no Jessica Ennis but the sense of achievement was tangible and my body, mind and soul felt stronger for it.

The key for me was to make exercise accessible and part of my daily routine, rather than building it up into a major ‘event’.  I found that making incremental changes to my routine helped me to recognise the value of getting outside, being active and clearing my head.

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