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By GreaterSport | 11 May 2021 | TAGS: Moving Forces, veterans, Mental health, Adults, Greater Manchester

Former member of the armed forces Ady Hazlehurst found the Moving Forces Connect programme helped him to put new daily routines in place, building foundations on positive ways to improve his overall wellbeing.

Taking steps to improve physical and mental health

After five years in the army, Ady knew it was important to connect with others in similar situations. Therefore, he was already part of the Moving Forces programme when he received information about ‘Connect’. ‘Moving Forces was already helping me to better understand my physical and mental wellbeing, and how the two are linked. So when I saw the email and newsletter about the Connect, I read up a little more about self-development,’ says Ady. ‘It was clear that the course material and my investment in my personal wellbeing would go hand-in-hand.’

Connect sessions were split into two parts: one focussing on learning and exploring new ways to support mental wellbeing, and the other centred on exercise and mediation. Both sections have had a profound effect on Ady’s day-to-day life. ‘I’ve taken up new activities I never thought I’d do,’ he says. ‘For example, I now do yoga as part of my daily routine, as well as find other activities to explore and take part in that help me positively connect body and mind. Physical and mental wellbeing naturally links together, and gives me a better way of looking at how to improve myself as a whole.’

Finding space for self-reflection

Ady also credits ‘Connect’ for helping him carve out time for himself amongst his family commitments, police career and re-joining the TA. ‘I didn’t realise I had been so harsh on myself in my daily life,’ Ady admits. ‘The course has shown me how to be kinder to myself mentally and emotionally. It’s made me see things more positively and find new ways of thinking.’

For Ady, part of his developing mental wellness comes from his new practice of daily reading or meditation, something he’s adopted since taking part in the Connect programme. ‘I used to stare at my phone for no reason, mindlessly scrolling,’ Ady says. ‘I’ve now replaced this with meditation or a book. I never used to read at all, but the positive thoughts I now have make me feel more relaxed, and more present.’

Refocussing on mental wellbeing

The programme helped Ady to focus on his mental health in a way that didn’t feel pressuring. ‘There was no obligation to do anything but listen, take it all in, and see how we evolve,’ he explains. ‘The onus was on us to take away what we wanted and put things into practice. But the self-care message hit me in such a personal way that everything simply fell into place.’

Ady is also keen to stress the benefits of a wellbeing course for everyone, whatever their background. ‘I don’t believe there’s such a thing as optimum mental health, so I’m sure anyone can improve and find something to take away from the course,’ Ady says. ‘I’m sure not many people really focus on themselves. It’s easy to get absorbed by life, like I did, with negative thoughts having a detrimental impact on physical and mental wellness. But spending an hour each week attending the course, sitting with others, listening to their stories, hearing from the experts and taking on board what they had to say was so beneficial. I believe it would be valuable to everyone.’

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