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Move Your Way this Mental Health Awareness Week

13th May 2024 - 5 minute read
Our mental health ambassadors take part in a programme run in partnership with AstraZeneca to improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Adam, 21, is a Youth Mental Health Ambassador from our Young Health Programme UK – a programme run in partnership with AstraZeneca to improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May 2024) is a chance to check in on oneself. It can become far too easy to ignore your mental health and wellbeing when going through day-to-day life and things can eventually build up. 

It is often hard to place a finger on what exactly caused a low mood, stress or anxiety. So, a chance for people to stop and reflect and learn new skills is beneficial. It allows time for employers, educators and even yourself to change the status quo, reflect and focus on something new and positive.  

Positive outlet  

The focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is movement which has greatly helped me in my struggles in the past. Having been a competitive swimmer for many years I always found it comforting. If I was frustrated with my day, I would work through those negative emotions by training hard. If I was stressed about an upcoming exam or deadline, I would take the time to swim and distract myself. If I felt low or isolated, I would surround myself with my fellow teammates and talk with them. 

Sports can provide a sense of community with which you can meet likeminded people. Learning new skills and noticing slight improvement in your own ability rather than comparing yourself to others can be really rewarding and build self-confidence. Team sports often provide a lot of avenues for creativity and problem solving. I certainly found on the days I exercised I was able to sleep far easier than the days I hadn’t. Studies show being more active during the day helps with the release of endorphins, “the feel good hormones” which help to reduce anxiety and lift people’s mood. 

A process 

I had to stop swimming as it took up too much time and I felt burnt out by the time I started university. Since then, I was looking for something to replace that role of sport. I tried lacrosse, tennis, athletics, rowing and even dabbled in dodgeball but I couldn’t stick to one. Not until I started indoor bouldering this year. I found it a great option as it has a dedicated community that are always friendly and open to share advice with beginners. I find the problem-solving aspect very satisfying and feel proud when I notice incremental changes. 

Two young men practicing on a climbing wall


Now I only do sport when I want to and only as long as I enjoy it. This shift in mindset has benefitted me greatly and helped me find activities that complement my lifestyle. I have learnt from the past that movement does help me, so even on days I feel low and not be motivated to exercise in a traditional sense, I have found other methods such as cooking, going on walks or photography missions to still provide benefit.  



“Comparison is the thief of joy” 

On the topic of comparison the "why can't I be like them": a way I have found to stop this is understanding that we are all different and have different skillsets. To quote Theodore Roosevelt: “comparison is the thief of joy,” meaning to diminish your sense of accomplishment and pride when you compare yourself to what others do.

To put it into practice, it does not matter to me where I finish in a race compared to others, it doesn’t matter whether I can climb a route that someone else can. Just running the race and crossing the finishing line or climbing a route I have been practicing is a big accomplishment for me.

This mindset helps bring me joy from simply exercising and not being self-critical, which is an especially important hurdle to overcome. So instead of saying “I can’t be like that,” tell yourself, “I can do this, and I will enjoy the process!”