Jamie Ramsay On Lockdown And Mental Health

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re focusing on how the outdoors can help us to stay healthy through these tough and unpredictable times. We asked brand ambassador Jamie Ramsay how he manages his mental health on his adventures, and how those skills help him to copy with daily life.

What are the main pressures that you find come with adventuring, and what are your methods of coping with them?

The wonderful thing about adventuring is that the pressures that come with it are also the driving forces that make you continue to go back. If you successfully complete an adventure, then you want to get out there and see what else you are capable of. If things don’t go to plan, then you stop, reflect and then retry until you reach where you want to be. And sometimes that might be somewhere completely different to where you intended to be in the first place. 

 

I think that adventuring takes on a different significance for everyone. For me, it’s my passion, my challenge and my livelihood. Trying to continually push yourself to new levels can be exhausting and sometimes you need to back away to recharge - but not being on an adventure is equally challenging. Right now, it’s really tough to find the motivation to keep pushing when there is nowhere to go and no way of knowing when that will change. The exhilaration of adventuring is the fuel that powers all other parts of my life, so I am having to learn how to adapt and recalibrate. 

How do those methods translate into helping you deal with daily struggles and pressures?

Adventure was, and continues to be, the tool that I use to help me navigate my way through the daily struggles of life and that is never more true than at the moment. You would think that having done so many long solo adventures, I would be equipped to deal with lockdown but that isn’t always the case. I had more interactions with people in the wilderness of Utah than I do at the moment, and as a social human that is a daily struggle. When you are on an adventure you have purpose, routine, and objectives. These are the kind of things I try to factor into my daily life both in lockdown and before it. A life without purpose is very hard for me to deal with - I need direction, or I stagnate. 

How does getting outdoors help you with maintaining good mental health?

Being outside is an essential part of maintaining my mental health. I always ran and cycled but lockdown has got me into the habit of daily walks and that has transformed things for me. The slower pace of a walk allows your mind to wander, and I can use this time to sort out the things in my mind that need to be addressed rather than supressed. Sometimes, I use this time to listen to podcast interviews with people who are inspiring or just listen to the sounds around. The transformation in the countryside around me during the last two months has been astounding. The continual change of flora is magical and despite walking the same route repetitively, no two walks are the same.  

How you are coping and staying mentally healthy during lockdown?

Coping is such a weird concept to me. We should be aiming higher than that, instead looking to flourish, develop and be fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong, I am not achieving that on a daily basis and just like everyone else, I find some days a real struggle. The thing I find hardest is that no two people are experiencing the same thing, and that can make you feel even more isolated. So, I would say that I am just coping but always with the daily objective of flourishing.

Do you have any coping mechanisms or things you do to help when you’ve had a particularly stressful day?

During lockdown I have tried various ways of keeping my motivation and mental health on an even keel. The two things I have learned are firstly, a routine that includes productivity, exercise, reflection and eating healthily will, for the most part, see me good. If you have a timetable and do the same things at the same time, then you get into a healthy flow. I use structured routine as a way of framing my adventures and this allows me to add a little predictability to something that inherently isn’t. 

 

Secondly, accepting that we are going to have down days and find things difficult, and learning to allow ourselves to go through that without feeling pressure to always be happy is really important. We can’t be on all the time and there will be times that we need to ask for help and acknowledge the struggle. Everyone is going to struggle and that is part of being human. Bouncing back is the goal and sometimes we can’t do that alone, but there is always someone willing to help if we just ask.


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