Mental Health Awareness Week: Sam Hartley's story

Sam H.MHAWI’ve struggled with my body image since I was at high school, as part of a broader issue with never feeling good enough despite achieving a lot.

Throughout my life this has got me down…until I took up running.

Five or six years ago I started running and it gave me a new perspective. It helps me challenge myself as well as reminding me of the importance of being strong and active.

It shifts my focus and reminds me there’s more to life than looking a certain way. I enjoy the competitive element of running but it’s not always about achieving something; it’s just as fun running in the hills with friends.

Now I’m trying to work on accepting myself as I am instead of always trying to do more or be better.

It’s human nature to struggle with self-criticism, I’d encourage anyone who recognises they have issues with this to talk to others and ask for help if they need it.

My top tips are:

  1. Broaden your definition of success and happiness – it’s not just work, studying or how you look, but also investing time in the things you enjoy that make you happy, challenge you or help others

  2. Recognise and accept that being critical of ourselves is really natural – try and notice when you’re doing it, name it for what it is and then let it go.