A NEW initiative encouraging people to stay active to help look after their mental health has been backed by a Dunfermline jogscotland group.

The 'Clear Your Head' campaign, led by the Scottish Government in collaboration with NHS Scotland, Breathing Space and the Samaritans, is calling on people to keep up any active habits they may have started during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research has shown that seven in 10 people across Scotland are worried about coronavirus – the highest level seen since mid-June – and Ready, Steady, Go Pitreavie have added their support to the campaign, which gives people practical tips on how to look after their mental health.

Jog leader Nicola Moriarty explained that making time to do one thing, however big or small, can make a positive impact, commenting: "In terms of activity for mental health, it doesn’t matter how low you feel, getting outside in the fresh air, even if it’s just for a 15-minute walk, will make a difference.

"You never go back inside feeling worse than when you left; even when it’s pouring with rain! Add in some friendly faces that you’ll always find in a jogscotland group and you’ll reap the benefit.

"Meeting my group for a walk, jog or run is my favourite time of the week. It doesn’t matter how rubbish I feel, I always return home feeling good.

"Having an online support group during lockdown was fantastic and being able to motivate each other to get out for some exercise was really beneficial – and sometimes it was OK to miss a day too – there was always the next.

"That feeling of finally meeting up face-to-face for the first time was magical, and having some different people to walk and chat with was just the best. Three simple words: 'How are you?' can make such a difference.

"As a jog leader, I’m always here for others, but there have been so many times when members have been here for me.

"If in doubt, try it out ... make that first step out the door the first of many. And if you are struggling to make that first step then I would encourage you to contact a local jogscotland group who will encourage, guide and support you on a journey to look after your mental health."

The campaign's website – clearyourhead.scot – offers ideas and advice on building physical activity into your day by stretching, working out, walking or cycling; being realistic about what is achievable; doing things you enjoy, and mixing them up, to keep being active interesting; and on making it sociable.

Clare Haughey, minister for mental health, said: "Life may be moving more as restrictions ease but this can bring new challenges as people juggle work, family and other commitments.

"We are living in uncertain times and feelings of stress and worry are understandable as things continue to change but there are practical things you can do to help you cope.

"Getting outside and keeping up active habits adopted during the pandemic, even for a short period of time, will help you feel better and more in control. It's so important to be kind to yourself and remember that help and support is available if you need to talk to someone about how you are feeling."

The Clear Your Head website also provides details of helplines for those who need someone to talk to, including NHS24, Breathing Space, SAMH (the Scottish Association for Mental Health) and the Samaritans.