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Mental Health Awareness Week 8-14 May 2017

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Are you surviving or thriving?  That’s the question at the heart of this year’s national campaign organised by the Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness of the struggles many people face on a daily basis throughout the UK.

One of the key aspects of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is looking at what steps we can take to better look after our mental health, and at Aneurin Leisure, we have a broad range of services that are perfectly suited to help people to thrive.

Here are some useful tips on how to improve your mental health and help you to thrive rather than just survive, along with some suggestions on how Aneurin Leisure can help: -

  1. Be Active
The benefits of regular exercise are well known; not only does it improve your health and wellbeing and reduce your risk of major illnesses, but it also promotes all kinds of positive changes in the brain, including neural growth and new activity programmes that promote feelings of calm and wellbeing.

Regular exercise also releases a whole host of natural hormones that can improve the quality of your sleep, boost your mood, enhance your concentration and make you feel more motivated.

At Aneurin Leisure, our three Sports Centres offer a wide range of exercise possibilities for people of all ages and fitness levels; whether you’d like to enjoy a refreshing swim, join a group exercise class, take to the gym or even play a game of badminton or football with friends.

Find out more at

  1. Read a Book
It’s been scientifically proven that curling up with a good book is not only an enjoyable pastime, but it can also have a positive impact on your mental and emotional health.  According to a recent study by the University of Sussex, individuals who read for just six minutes exhibited slower heart rates, less muscle tension and reduced stress levels.

The benefits of reading to promote good mental health are so well known that doctors in the UK have adopted ‘Books on Prescription’ to aid patients with anxiety and depression.

If you’re looking for your next great read, our six Libraries throughout Blaenau Gwent provide a huge and varied range of free books, e-books and e-magazines suitable for people of all ages and interests.  Our Better with Books scheme also supports children and families, providing a range of titles which are available on a number of topics including behaviour problems, bullying, starting school, sadness, confidence and self-esteem etc.

Find out more at

  1. Take a Break
Something as simple as a change of scene or pace is good for your mental health, and the great outdoors is an excellent place to start since research has shown that time spent in natural habitats can improve your self-esteem and mood.

A report published last year by Natural England even demonstrated that taking part in nature based activities helps people who are suffering from mental health issues and can contribute to a reduction in levels of anxiety, stress and depression.

At Aneurin Leisure we have two country parks that provide a diverse choice of landscapes to explore, from the beautifully maintained lawns and flowerbeds of Bedwellty House & Park to the stunning lakeside views and woodland trails of Parc Bryn Bach.

But if you’re looking for more than just a scenic walk, there are also lots of hidden treasures to be found at our parks.  You can take your relaxation a little further at Bedwellty House and venture into our cosy Orchid House Tea Room for a spot of lunch or a delicious Afternoon Tea – find out more at  You can even embrace your wild side at Parc Bryn Bach and experience one of our thrilling Adventure Activities such as tandem paragliding, mountain biking, caving or watersports - find out more at
  1. Learn a New Skill
Not only is learning a new skill a great way to broaden your potential, but research shows that continuing to learn throughout your life can also improve your mental wellbeing. 

Learning can boost your self-confidence and self-esteem and help to build a sense of purpose, and since learning often involves interacting with other people it can also help us to make social connections and strengthen relationships.    

Learning doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go back to school as there are lots of ways to bring learning into your life, especially at Aneurin leisure.  Our Adult Community Learning service provides a wide range of courses to suit everyone, whether you’d like to improve your employment potential with some new qualifications, brush up on your IT skills or even learn a new hobby and get involved with a club.  Find out more at

If you’re looking for something a bit more active, you could even learn an exciting new skill such as kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, climbing or navigation with our fully qualified and experienced Parc Bryn Bach Adventure team.

  1. Do Something you Enjoy

What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in?

It’s important to find time to do the fun things that you enjoy; not only does it allow you to invest some time in yourself, but it can provide balance to your life and a much needed distraction if things are getting on top of you.

Having fun is a great way to beat stress, and doing something you enjoy can help stop you from becoming unhappy and irritable.

So, why not enjoy a theatre show at The Met, invest some time into improving your fitness at our Sports Centres, go for a walk or get out for a spot of lunch with friends at one of our parks, maybe explore your interests and join a group at our Libraries or learn a new hobby at our Learning Action Centres - there’s lots to choose from!

To find out more about our full range of services at Aneurin Leisure visit our website at

If you’d like to know more about the Mental Health Foundation, the work they do or how you can get more involved in activities for Mental Health Awareness Week, please visit

Mental Health Awareness Week with AL



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