01 February 2022
Pembrokeshire is a walker’s paradise. The county’s dramatic and varied coastline is a joy for walkers, taking in stunning bays, beaches and clifftops, volcanic headlands, glacial valleys and quaint towns. With health professionals encouraging us to practise self-care and adopt small changes to help improve our mental well-being, it is the perfect time to get some fresh air and enjoy a walk at one of these stunning locations.
The traditional benefits of exercise have been to improve and maintain physical fitness but, more recently, the benefit of exercise to improve mental health has come to the fore. Exercise decreases the stress hormones such as cortisol and increases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals, and when they are released through exercise, your mood is boosted naturally. As well as endorphins, exercise also releases adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine. These chemicals work together to make you feel good.
Dr Kerry Donovan, Head of Psychology & Psychological Therapies for Hywel Dda University Health Board said, “Eating healthily, taking exercise on a regular basis, keeping regular sleeping patterns, establishing a good structure for our days and engaging in relaxing activities are always important to promote health and wellbeing. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or feel the need for additional support, please do ask for help. These services remain available and we are here to help.”
For information on the local primary mental health support service in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion visit: https://hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/services-and-teams/iawn/
With more than £700m invested annually, the Welsh Government spends more on mental health than on any other aspect of the NHS. If you are concerned about your mental health advice and support on how to look after your mental wellbeing can be found here: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/how-are-you-doing/
One rural mental health charity, the DPJ Foundation, based in Pembrokeshire but covers all of Wales, encourages those living rurally to get out and walk, or run, to help their mental health.
Emma Picton-Jones, founder of the DPJ Foundation, helped create the annual @_run1000 challenge last year during lockdown. The challenge was between England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and New Zealand to see whose team could run/walk the most miles throughout the month of January whilst raising awareness of the importance of rural mental health and raising money for rural mental health charities including the DPJ Foundation.
Emma Picton-Jones said, “This can be quite a tough time of year for farmers and those of us living rurally. We wanted to create something positive for everyone to take part in that gets them out and active. Thank you to everyone who has taken part again this year and the donations.”
Here are some of the great walks across Pembrokeshire: