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Cycling For Your Mental Health

Written by Bethany McAtee on 17th May, 2023

In a fast-paced world teeming with stress and anxiety, finding solace for your mind is paramount. At Love Velo, we recommend looking no further than the humble bicycle to embark on a transformative journey toward improved mental well-being. That was what Charlotte did too, when she decided she needed a break. Charlotte kindly took the time out to speak to us openly about her experience before and during her cycling trip in Mallorca back in 2019 and given it’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2023, we thought we would reshare some of her experiences.

Cycling For Your Mental Health, Cycling For Your Mental Health

What was Charlotte’s catalyst to cycle?

The biggest obstacles Charlotte has faced have been those that are intangible and which are not readily noticeable. Living with depression and anxiety is something Charlotte has battled for years. Open and honest, Charlotte reflects on how a year ago she struggled to get out of bed. She has been on a roller coaster with her mental health over the past few years, and sought help with counselling as well as CBT.

Following an emotional Christmas with her mum being diagnosed with breast cancer she realised she needed to address her own mental health concerns and she signed up to a 100 mile charity bike ride at work! Bearing in mind that Charlotte had not cycled before, this was an incredibly brave thing to do, and of course a huge commitment. What it proved to be amongst all else though was a transformation of her mental health:

“Cycling has given me a massive sense of headspace. I definitely feel like the bike really helped me this year, it’s been a real escape. I cycled on my own to build up my confidence, and since then I’ve always cycled out with a group. Actually, a lot of people that I cycle with have struggled mentally as well, so it’s amazing to hear there’s a lot of people cycling for mental health.”

a switchback road on a climb in mallorca

What if You Have Never Cycled Before?

Charlotte had never cycled other than as a kid. The first thing she has to do was buy a bike. Fast forward to Easter weekend, and she was facing her first ride on her new bike in the Mendips. What is it like we asked, having never ridden before and then facing your first big ride ?

“Liberating, freeing and shocking”

Shocking was what we found interesting because it was not the adjective we had expected. As Charlotte told us, she was shocked that she had waited so long to try cycling. Charlotte described how cycling has helped her overcome mental health issues by taking on physical changes.  This is no surprise as exercise in general releases a powerful concoction of endorphins, all-natural mood-boosters. Whilst we would never suggest that anxiety or mental health is simply mood related, the release of these endorphins does act as a catalyst to help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.

Cycling is for anyone

And what about cycling by yourself? We wanted to know how Charlotte’s experience had brought her to a solo cycling holiday in Mallorca for a cycling holiday.

“Put simply, if you had told me a year ago I’d be cycling by myself abroad, I’d have laughed in your face! I thought cycling holidays are something other people did, and that cycling and holidays didn’t go together.”

Now? Charlotte recommends cycling to anyone struggling with mental health.

Being in her 30’s, Charlotte sees cycling as building the foundations for fitness in later life. Both physically and mentally. She talked about a few negative comments received about her body type. We live in a social media age so that is something we hear a lot, and it’s far more common in our experience for those comments to be directed at women. However Charlotte, like us believes in the power of surroundign yourselves with those that want the best for you, and blocking out the other noise. Easier said than done, but it can’t be achieved without actively noticing it and putting it into practice.

In Charlotte’s eyes, anyone can cycle, no matter what they look like. Furthermore, Charlotte emphasised that it’s okay not to feel yourself but importantly, it’s okay to talk about mental health too.

a road cycling bike against a tree with the bay of alcudia behind it

Are you inspired by Charlotte’s experiences, let us know and see how we can help with recommendations on where best to take your bike. Whether you’re looking for a wellness cycling holiday, a digital detox or some tough cycling, we can help you enjoy any type of cycling break.

Additionally, if you are struggling with your mental health, contact your local GP for help. Websites such as Mind and the Mental Health Foundation can also offer support.