Improving winter wellbeing with Macmillan in Causeway Coast and Glens

Catherine King, Macmillan Move More Coordinator in Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council knows well how the darker, colder winter months can affect people’s energy and enthusiasm, and she is determined to help people move more in the weeks to come.

My role as a Macmillan Coordinator is to help people living with cancer to get active and stay active”, says Catherine. “Many people find it harder to stay motivated in the winter months. It’s perfectly understandable when there’s less light and poorer weather, particularly if you’ve had a cancer diagnosis and are feeling the impact on your physical and mental health.

“Taking any exercise helps to boost mood and energy levels, so the important thing is to do something every day, no matter how little. Whether that’s a short walk, some chair exercises, or a bit of gardening, it all helps to improve strength, mobility, and flexibility. You can stay active in so many ways – it’s not just about going to the gym or running for miles.

“Our Feel-Good Gardening Group is the perfect example! We joined our gardening expert and superstar Macmillan fundraiser, Andrew McClarty, for a wreath-making masterclass in advance of Andrew’s annual Christmas plant sale for the charity. We had about 30 people attend from the Macmillan Move More group who designed a wreath for the sale, and a wreath to take home. It was a fantastic day, and we’ll not mention the fact that the odd mince-pie made a short-lived appearance!”

Rosemary Iliff, a participant in the Move More group, is a huge advocate for the benefits of the gardening group an says, “It’s an afternoon where you laugh and forget any issues you have with your cancer journey.  You come away each time with a new nugget of gardening information which Andy teaches in his own eloquent and inspirational way. You feel so much lighter, full of freedom and a smile on your face when you leave.”

Arlene Lawry agrees and adds, “The gardening has been amazing to lift the spirits. There is something so nurturing about planting bulbs and seeing them grow. I love being taught new skills like making wreaths and looking after plants. I find it so tranquil that I turn off and get lost in what I am doing, like a form of meditation.”

Catherine is also keen to share some simple steps that we can all take to feel more motivated at this time of year:

1.     Enjoy the daylight: “On those rare, bright days of winter, wrap up and get outside in daylight hours if you can”

  1. Connect with family and friends: “A catch up with our nearest and dearest can be a huge boost to our wellbeing, whether that’s in person, over the phone or online”
  2. Eat well: “Try and get five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, and stay hydrated with plenty of water”
  3. Rest & sleep: “Build a regular night-time routine and switch off screens well before bedtime to allow plenty of time for relaxation”
  4. Do the things you love: “Make time for self-care and do the little things that make you happy and bring you joy”

She adds, “If you have been diagnosed with cancer, I am here to help. Contact me for a chat and we can talk about ways to help you move more with confidence. Our Macmillan Move More programme offers everything from our gardening sessions, to walking groups, circuit classes, pilates and more. I’ll help you to try different activities at a pace that suits you, and to access incentives to get you started.”

Physical activity is safe during and after most types of cancer treatment. To find out more about the Macmillan Move More programme in the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area, call Catherine on 07597 399 765 or email [email protected]