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28th Nov, 2021

Preparing to take to the dancefloor as ‘Coventry Does Strictly’

DANCING and mental health have both been significant throughout my life, although rarely at the same time, until now. I will be taking to the floor to dance in this year’s ‘Coventry Does Strictly’ to raise money for the mental health charity MIND.

I have always been passionate about mental health since I started training as an Occupational Therapist back in 1992. As a very young adult with very little life experience at the time, I found it extremely upsetting to see people suffering from serious mental illness. Looking back now, as an inexperienced naive young adult I just wanted to make it all better. Unfortunately, my own inexperience led to my own anxiety issues and to walk away from this career forever.

However, I have continued to encourage people to talk about mental health, and until recently I volunteered for a brilliant local charity Mental Health Together. (MHT) brought people together in the community to engage in various activities to support their mental health, and its brilliant founder remains committed to increasing mental health awareness. Our lifestyle choices do have a huge impact on both our physical and mental health, which is why I am so passionate about my work now as a health coach.

We will all be affected by mental illness at some stage during our lives, whether that be personally or via someone close to us.  Through my work I am learning more and more about hormonal health, and it has become so apparent to me just how many women become vulnerable to it due to the changes in their hormones.  I also know people who have experienced serious mental health crises and have known close family friends who have tragically taken their own lives. Clearly, no-one is immune to mental health issues, which is why it is so important that we talk about it openly so that people feel able to reach out for help when they need it.

I was therefore thrilled when I learnt that the money raised from ‘Coventry Does Strictly’ goes to the wonderful mental health charity MIND.

To me dancing and mental health are most certainly linked.

Dancing is joyful. It makes me smile. It makes me laugh. It makes me feel connected. It offers me total mindfulness as I lose myself in both the steps and the music! As a child dancing was my hobby. I tried to keep it up at college, but it was tricky. In adulthood, apart from our wedding dance, it became much more a spectator sport for me, as I lost myself year after year in the joy of Strictly Come Dancing on the telly.  However, these past few years I have found real joy at Ian Parkers & Niki Falvys weekly Fitsteps classes. Fitsteps is a strictly based exercise class, and I tell anyone who will listen to try it. I promise you won’t regret it.

It is because of Fitsteps that I became aware of this brilliant yearly fundraising event ‘Coventry Does Strictly.’ and I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to participate this year….

I have experienced many emotions these past few weeks: fear and overwhelm mainly. However, I know only too well what is on the other side of pushing yourself ‘way out of your comfort zone.’

It has certainly been much more of a challenge than I ever anticipated, but what I have loved most of all is meeting lots of new people all committed to the same cause! There has already been plenty of laughter and tears and I suspect there will be many more before this is over… but I have been told that it will be so much more than ‘alright on the night.’

So, I intend to summon up all my courage, put on those dancing shoes, put my best foot forward, and step into the joy of strictly. OMG!!

Thank you so much for the opportunity, Mark Jefferies, and for all your relentless hard work. Please do click on the link if you would like any information about his classes.

Thank you too to all those who have donated so far…. and for those who haven’t, please keep donating to this wonderful cause…

Thank you. Oh, and…. ‘Keep dancing!’

Harriet Saxton

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