Mental health issues can affect all of us - in different ways at different times in our lives.  It’s important to health check our own wellbeing to help reduce stress and manage our mental health on a daily basis. Mental Health Awareness Week takes place annually in the second week in May, so what better time to take a breath? There are a variety of ways in which you can manage and reduce stress by taking time out, exercising and being mindful in Newcastle, Gateshead and the North East.

You can find links to useful resources provided by the Mental Health Foundation throughout this article which will give you guidance and additional support.

NewcastleGateshead Quayside

Take up exercise

There are many benefits to taking part in regular, physical exercise – not least the positive impact on your mood and a way to help minimise the effects of stress. Hire a bike from The Cycle Hub and pedal into the distance. You will be surprised at how far you can cycle along the C2C from the Quayside towards Tynemouth on the coast. Lace up your boots and get a sense of accomplishment whilst exploring the rugged countryside when you follow one of many walking routes through Hadrian’s Wall Country.  Whether you love to run or would rather oscillate between an amble and a casual jog, there are plenty of stunning running routes around the North East. Join one of the free, weekly Park Run events that take place across the region at a range of local hotspots including Rising Sun Country Park in Newcastle, a bracing jog in Whitley Bay at the coast or around the picturesque National Trust property Gibside in Gateshead.

Take time out

One top tip for ways to manage stress is to take time out for yourself. This could be to do something you love or simply to make space to rest and relax – this will be different for each person. Here are some great ways to enjoy time out in Newcastle, Gateshead and the North East. Book a relaxing spa break and treatment to relieve the physical signs of tension and give yourself some time to chill out.

Be transported into your imagination and be mesmerised by drama, music and inspiring storytelling at one of the region’s performance venues such as the striking Theatre Royal Newcastle, the Quayside’s Live Theatre, Northern Stage or Sunderland Empire. The Stand Newcastle and venues including Tyne Theatre & Opera House regularly provide the laughs with brilliant evenings of comedy. Appreciate art at Laing Art Gallery. Wander through the peaceful galleries in the stunning building and take time to sit and consider the masterpieces by artist and sculptors from Paul Gaugin to Henry Moore.

Take a stroll

The North East abounds in beautiful countryside, stunning coastline and a wealth of opportunities to wander and explore. Mindfulness is a way to manage your wellbeing and mental health and you can practice this with mindful walking. Take in the surrounding as you walk along the banks of the River Tyne and listen to the call of the Kittiwakes outside BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art.  Count the seven iconic bridges as you encounter them along the NewcastleGateshead Quayside. Pay attention to what makes each one different, their shape and the vehicles passing over them. Walk towards historic Dunstan Staithes on Gateshead Quayside where the bustle of activity quietens and absorb the scenery. You may choose to go for a stroll on your own or why not take the opportunity to walk and talk with a friend and start a conversation about mental health?

Take up a hobby

There is something quite therapeutic about focusing on a new activity, learning a skill or revisiting a hobby you used to enjoy.  If you are looking for a new activity or workshop in Newcastle, why not try life drawing or pottery workshops at Mushroom Works in Ouseburn? Whip out your smart phone and wander along the Quayside to indulge in some photography as you look closer at the iconic bridges and range of buildings that flank both sides of the river. Get physical while you learn a new skill by horse riding at Stepney Bank Stables or dancing with abandon at Dance City. Getting hands on and enjoying a workshop with no pressure will not only be a great social activity but will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Take a breath

In the bustle of the city, it can sometimes get overwhelming, but Newcastle and Gateshead are well served with parks and leafy oases just moments from the busy city. Saltwell Park in Gateshead has everything – a striking Gothic mansion in the centre, ornamental gardens and a lake. Wander along the river that meanders through leafy Jesmond Dene to a gushing waterfall or enjoy the dappled light in Armstrong Park which joins Jesmond Dene with Heaton Park. Sit beside the lake and feed the ducks in Newcastle’s oldest park, Leazes Park.  Pet’s Corner in Jesmond Dene and Ouseburn Farm are a brilliant stopping off point where you can try some animal petting and experience nature in the heart of a busy urban setting.

Take in history

Take in the majesty of an old building or landmark – St Nicholas Cathedral in the heart of Newcastle is England’s most northerly cathedral and a peaceful space to admire its architecture which dates back to the 14th Century or sit quietly to think.  Near the furthest reaches of Northumberland, Bamburgh Castle sits overlooking the wilds of the Northumberland coastline. Discover the history that is steeped in the castle’s ancient walls whilst taking in the beauty of the coast.

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