Countryside Walking through the Rhododendrons at Cragside c National Trust Image John Millar

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. Perhaps more than ever, we need to be kind to ourselves, look for ways to support friends and family who might be struggling or find time to establish a routine which gives us space and perspective during the overwhelming and challenging coronavirus pandemic. It's so important that there are now two opportunities in the year to deliberately take a breath - Mental Health Awareness Week takes place annually in the second week in May and World Mental Health Day is on 10 October each year.

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 - many of which we highlighted last year to mark the annual awareness week. Understandably, life is a little different in 2020 and the things you would normally do to lift your spirits or ensure you have time out, may not be available at the minute. We've updated our suggestions of things to do in Newcastle and Gateshead that might help - you may have some other suggestions too but above all, we hope you are able to look after yourselves and remember it's ok to ask for help.

There are some helpful resources for managing your wellbeing during Covid-19 here with tips such as journalling, calling a friend and maintaining a steadying routine. You can also find links to useful resources specific to the anxieties we might all be facing at this time provided by the Mental Health Foundation here.

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. Government guidelines around may be in constant flux, but you can make the most of unlimited outdoor activity (do you remember when we could only take 1 hour per day!). Outdoor exercise facilities like golf courses at Slaley Hall and kayaking at Cullercoats are open and provide the perfect escapism.

Hop on your bike or go for a run to help clear your head and give you a chance to escape your same four walls. 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. If you need a little motivation, why not ask a friend to join you for a run, walk or cycle? You can enjoy the benefits of some exercise with chance to see a friendly face and talk about what you're feeling (staying 2 metres apart if your exercise buddy is from outside your household).

Or take up the Simplyhealth Great North Run Solo Challenge and raise money while you exercise. There is some helpful advise and links on our Coronavirus Practical Information pages about which outdoor spaces are open and how to stay safe.

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. This will be more difficult for some people at the minute and certainly the options are limited. But with some creativity - you could be anywhere!

  • Book a meal at one NewcastleGateshead's top restaurants and enjoy a safe, evening out. If you're missing a great meal out but would rather stay in, then why not order a takeaway to be delivered? More and more of your favourite restaurants are finding ways to do both including ErnestBlackfriars and SIX at BALTIC and it might give you some time out from cooking and washing up.
  • Cast your minds back nearly 2 years to when NewcastleGateshead hosted Great Exhibition of the North. One of the summer's highlights was definitely AEONS - who remembers the emotive and immersive audio walk along the Quayside? Aeons was created by composer and musician Martin Green and Opera North. Relax, shut your eyes and relive the experience with this behind the scenes video of the making of Aeons from 2018.
  • Take a break for 10 minutes and enjoy a new play created and performed at Live Theatre, Newcastle. There are nine plays to choose from in their new 10 Minutes To... Call Home series which can be watched for free online.
  • Swimming pools and spa facilities at most hotels and leisure centres are also now open in Newcastle, Gateshead and Northumberland so why not book a quiet slot at Newcastle City Baths or one of the many luxurious hotel spas?

Take a stroll

We're grateful that 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 go on your next walk whether that is along the banks of the River Tyne where you can listen to the call of the Kittiwakes outside BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art (during the spring months). 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 Dunston Staiths on Gateshead Quayside where the bustle of activity quietens and absorb the scenery. It is difficult to be mindful when we're aware of keeping our distance from others, perhaps choose a time to go for your walk so that you avoid a typically busy period and can relax, knowing you are less likely to see many other people.

Venture into one of the many leafy parks and gardens around NewcastleGateshead or why not visit WWT Washington Wetland Centre for a chance to roam in the tranquility of their nature reserve?

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 online workshop in Newcastle, why not get arty with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art? Watch their regular Meet & Make Online events including the latest addition where artist David Goard shares how to turn the everyday tasks of our daily lives into a thoughtful artwork. Watch here.

Try some relaxing colouring in and family art at home activities thanks to Laing Art Gallery. 

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.

Take in history and culture

Either on a walk or virtually, why not take in the majesty of an old building or landmark. If you're lucky enough to live local, you may be able to wander near the Angel of the North, past Newcastle Cathedral and Castle in the heart of Newcastle or beside the River Tyne and all the iconic bridges and buildings along the route. Otherwise, why not learn something new about North East history with the help of tour guide Alex Iles who runs virtual history workshops or take a virtual tour of historic attractions and some of your favourite Newcastle and Gateshead museums and art galleries. Find out which attractions are now open and how you can enjoy a day out at a museum or art gallery in NewcastleGateshead. Capacity is limited to help with social distancing so you will be able to enjoy a calm and much quieter experience.

What do you want to do?


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