On January 1st, 2020, I celebrated the dawn of a new year with my family and friends. Like millions of others across the country, I could not have anticipated how the next 12 months would unfold.
My master's degree has been a difficult transition. Although I was fortunate to have some face to face teaching in the opening weeks of term, all sessions were subsequently moved online.
For many of us, the social interaction and camaraderie provided by a university environment can boost our mental health. Personally, an established routine makes it easier for me to focus on my studies.
It can be all too easy to slip into negative thoughts when your day has little structure, and you are confined to your house.
However, I have found walking has provided a natural antidote to the numerous lockdowns and restrictions. I am incredibly lucky to live in Sheffield, the gateway to the gorgeous Peak District.
I try to ensure I take one walk a day, which builds into the structure of each day. Mentally, I can use it to break up my work and have something positive to look forward to. The endorphin release is unmatched, and much of my work-related stress seems to melt away.
Unlike many other forms of exercise, walking is low cost and accessible for the vast majority of us! A simple pair of sturdy shoes and an OS map is all you need!
Walking has helped me immensely in overcoming stressful times over the past few months, meaning I no longer take for granted the beautiful countryside on my doorstep.
Whilst I appreciate many aspects of mental health cannot be solved by simply heading outside, it always helps me regain a sense of perspective. Often, I can return to my desk more relaxed and at peace with myself.