What is Good Mental Health
Good mental health is not only feeling happy. Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence play a huge part too. So is a feeling that you can do the things you want to do. And so are good relationships, which bring joy to you and those around you.
"Of course, good mental wellbeing does not mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult. But it does mean that you feel you have the resilience to cope when times are tougher than usual. It can help to think about "being well" as something you do, rather than something you are. The more you put in, the more you are likely to get out. No-one can give wellbeing to you. It's you who has to take action.
We've taken the top five steps to good mental health from the NHS website and shown where they can be applied to narrowboating.
Connect with family and friends
Narrowboating can be a very leisurely activity, where you can slow down your pace of life and spend time in the quiet of the countryside. It's ideal to share time aboard connecting with friends and family, and live life in the slow lane, but also to share that time with others.
Boating is a great way to keep active. If you have a dog you can enjoy leisurely walks in a great environment away from all the stresses of city life. Cruising the canal network will mean that you'll have to navigate locks, which is a great way to get exercise by climbing on and off your narrowboat and walking over lockgates to crank open the lock gate with your windlass. Then you'll have to close the gates again before going on your way. Read our sister company Venetian Marina's blog about how to work a lockgate for more information.
Learn new skills
If you're new to boating and canal life, then you'll need to learn new skills, as narrowboating is a whole new way of life to living in a house. You'll need to learn how work your boat, how to moor it and maintain it. Our YouTube videos are a great way to get learning. Learning a new skill concentrates the mind and takes your attention away from thinking too much about yourself, and gives you a great sense of achievement.
Give to others
A great way to give to others is by getting involved with community boating. The NCBA is a network of well resourced, well managed community boating organisations that promote access to UK waterways as well as promoting the safe use of community boats as a resource available for the benefit of disadvantaged and excluded groups in ways that promote social cohesion, protect the environment and support economic regeneration
Or why not volunteer with the CRT or the Inland Waterways Association. There are opportunities to become a Voluntary Lock Keeper, or you can adopt a stretch of canal and help it thrive, become part of the towpath taskforce become part of the administrative team, or be a website or publicity officer. This will also help you learn new skills!
Be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Learning a new skill such as narrowboating is a great way to be more mindful, as you will be concentrating on learning and be more in the present moment.
Why not give these things a try whether you're planning on taking up narrowboating or not, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life!