This week marks the 71st annual Mental Health Week celebrated in Canada from May 2 to 8 and today (Wednesday, May 4th) I was excited to be a part of the launch of something new and exciting in our area. Namely the “Mood Walk Program”. This is a FREE event that is hosted by CMHA Champlain East and as the description on the posters states, “Mood Walks is an eight-week walking program that promotes both physical and mental wellness. Walking combines physical activity with exposure to nature and has proven benefits for mental and physical health. Join us during mental health week and experience the healing effects of nature in your community.”
In the header photo you can see todays walk facilitator team, thanks to who we had a great “Mood Walk” experience!
On April 25th, Julia and I had Angele D’Alessio, CMHA Champlain East Mental Health Promotor and Stephen Douris, a very busy volunteer and Mental Health Advocate, also Cornwall Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Citizen of the Year as guests on our “Monday Morning Motivation with the Seeker Chicks Show”. We discussed how Mental Health has been, more than ever, a big subject and has affected people of all walks of life over the past 2 years during the Covid Pandemic. Angele and Stephen talked about this new activity for Mental Health week and it certainly peaked our interest as we too have felt disconnected from people in our Seeker World and a Mood Walk sounds like a great way to re-connect, especially with our Seeker Team of writers.
So this morning I attended a meeting with the facilitators of this Launch where we were told about how it works and the many benefits of the programme which has been created by Canadian Mental Health Association (Ontario Division). After the presentation we headed over to the Grays Creek Marina where a school bus load of people ready to go on the sample walk arrived. Altogether we were a group of over 50 people.
Angele D’Alessio and Genevieve Desrochers, mental health promotors and Vincent Pilon, information coordinator with the Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) began with a few words of welcome.
We were all asked to choose an emoji sticker that described our mood at the beginning of the day. These were worn by all as a way to spark conversation as the walk is a way to encourage people to talk about how they feel and why they are feeling that way. The theme of these Mood Walks is Empathy. We were encouraged to really practice listening to each other and trying to understand how each of us feels and why.
We were also given a bottle of water to keep ourselves hydrated, a granola bar snack and even a small bag of bird seed so that we could feed the birds along the way and then music appeared out of nowhere (well actually from a speaker beside Angele), and the warm up began.
Yes it was drizzling with rain but I couldn’t have been happier going for a brisk walk today surrounded by the woodsy smell of nature and the twirping of the birds. We even stopped to check out the interesting plants surrounding us.
It seemed like the time passed so quickly and before I knew it we were back and doing a cool down. I’m sure you can tell that by the end of this walk everyone was having a lot of fun and there definitely were a lots of smiling faces!
I know I spend a lot of time indoors behind my computer so today was a wonderful way to re-connect socially – chatting and walking with people I hadn’t seen for years and also meeting new people, as well as connecting with nature. When I got up this morning I really didn’t feel like going for a walk in the rain but I am so glad that I did as it definitely boosted my mood and energy levels.
I know I have to walk more but lately I am lacking motivation so the Mood Walk which is beginning in June for 8 weeks in Lamoureux Park will definitely be a walking programme that I will be taking part in. As they say creating a habit takes 21 days and incorporating the habit into your lifestyle takes 90 days (3 months). This will certainly be a good start for me and I know Julia and I will be creating our own Seeker Mood Walk as well.
As I was leaving the walk I met up with a group from Holy Trinity who had crossed some muddy areas to join us at the Mood Walk and were so happy that they did. Angele told us that they have been meeting with different groups to facilitate these walks and students from Holy Trinity took part in a Mood Walk a few days ago and really enjoyed it. Honestly I think these Mood Walks could become a next Pandemic – a Mental Health improving Pandemic!!!
It is very important to connect with people and nature and back away from those computer keyboards, tablets and cell phones to improve our own Mental Health.
Check out www.moodwalks.ca and and also www.cmha-east.on.ca and on Facebook visit: https://www.facebook.com/cmhaeast Please, if you need help, reach out!
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