Faye Whelan of Faye Whelan Reflexology
Mental health, one of the most serious and complex issues faced in today’s society.
The connection between spending time outdoors and the improvement of mental well-being has been well researched and documented.
Here at WWW we are big advocates of small manageable lifestyle changes and everyday adventures to improve physical and metal well-being. One Wild Woman who is a perfect example of this is Faye Whelan. Faye grabs life with both hands and it has been a joy to see her growth and journey over the past couple of years.
We caught up with Faye to find out more about her and delve a little deeper into what we see through social media…
Tell us a little bit about yourself & your journey to setting up Faye Whelan Reflexology...
I grew up in South Lakes, going to school in Kendal and studied at Kendal College. I still live in Kendal and I can’t imagine living anywhere else as I have everything around me, friends, family, the mountains and lakes. I am a self-employed support worker for children and adults with disabilities based in the community of South Lakes. Being a support worker is very rewarding and I feel lucky to have a job which I love so much. 18 months ago I studied reflexology and I now do this alongside my care work. I set up my business ‘Faye Whelan Reflexology’ in May 2018, I hire a treatment room in Kendal one day a week and combine home visits to fit in around my care work. I enjoy the variety of both my jobs and being self-employed gives me some freedom and flexibility. Setting up a business is daunting but with support from others so far it has been a success and I have some plans to develop this further next year….
You are a big advocate for everyday adventures and positive mental well-being – is this something which you have had a personal journey with?
I have always enjoyed being outdoors. Growing up we had ponies so every day after school and weekends would be spent at the stables with my Dad and my sister. My Dad would also spend his free time on the fells and I think that is where I have found my passion for the mountains. I enjoy gaining new experiences and going on adventures and seeking adrenaline. Being in the outdoors gives me the space to clear my head which is I find helps my anxiety and depression which I have battled with for a few years. Also meeting like-minded people with a love for the outdoors has helped me accept that it’s ok to not be ok. I believe that the outdoors is healing and one of the best places to share personal stories. Also, the challenge of testing my limits outdoors and gaining new experiences is a positive achievement and I am happiest when outdoors.
You recently took up outdoor swimming, can you tell us a little bit about how you got started?
Since I was about 10 I have had a fear of deep water due to having an asthma attack during swimming lessons at school. This has stuck with me and I wanted to overcome my fear, so I set myself a challenge of signing up to do the Great North Swim in June 2017; what better way to conquer a fear than literally jump in the deep end! I gave myself 5 months to train. I did my first outdoor swim in April 2016 with a wetsuit and the feeling was incredible how invigorating it was being outdoors in the water. I completed the GNS in about 50 minutes and so far, that is my biggest achievement in the outdoors and I now love being in the water. I joined buoy 13 swim club and did my first non-wetsuit swim on Christmas Eve 2017 and I have stayed wetsuit free since. The cold fresh water also helped me with my anxiety and depression as it puts the mind in the present moment, there is no time to think of anything else, just focus the mind on the present and breathe through it. Also, I find there is such a positive achievement from doing this and again I have met some great people who are all so encouraging and supportive. It amazes me at what you can train your body to do and to overcome. (New Years Day 2018 swim in Derwentwater)
What would you say most motivates to get into the outdoors?
Being outdoors is something I try to do each day, even on ‘down’ days as I know I always feel a little bit better after. I’m content in going for a solo walk and I sometimes prefer this than being in company as it allows me the space to clear my mind properly. I have also taken up sleeping in a hammock this summer, which was amazing sleeping under the stars amongst the trees. To me there is no better way to wake up than to be around nature. I’m not one to spend a day indoors so usually first thing in a morning I either go to the stables, go for a swim in the lake or go for a walk, being outdoors is a good way for me to start the day. My favourite place is Scout Scar as it is close to where I grew up in Brigsteer, where my parents still live. I often just pop on there even if its just to stand and watch the sun set or just to clear my head, there are amazing views all around and so many different walks to take.
Have there been any particular highs or lows which stand out on any of your outdoor adventures?
Highs- a high for me was I did a solo sunrise walk up Helvellyn in July. I set off walking at 3am to catch the sunrise at 5am. This was an emotional journey for me as it brought back a lot of memories which I had tried to forget. I really wanted to turn around as I had a panic attack, but I pulled myself through and carried on to watch an amazing sunrise and I never saw another soul. The achievement if doing this was so positive and I felt proud of myself.
Lows- I recently did Snowdon via Crib Goch and this really tested my limits. I haven’t done much scrambling before, so this was a new one for me and for the first time hiking I felt scared. I honestly didn’t think I could do it but with good guidance and reassurance we took it a little bit at a time and I did it. So the low then turned into a high as I was determined to complete it and I did.
Do you have any advice or tips for someone who may be going through challenging times that they are struggling with?
Talk about it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support. One of the biggest challenges for me was going to the doctors and accepting that I had anxiety and depression but with the amazing support from family and friends I am getting through my journey. Every night before I go to sleep I write down one positive thing that happened in the day. It can be as simple as ‘I got through a bad day’ to ‘the sun was shining’ but it’s all about training your mind to look at the positive. Also, I am a big believer that the outdoors helps clear your mind and would encourage anyone going through a challenging time to spend a bit of time outdoors and make it part of your routine. Find things to focus on and set goals.
What exciting ventures are you most looking forward to in the near future?
I have set myself a challenge this past year of completing 30 things to do before I’m 30 and on that list is to travel so in the next few months I am going to New York, New Zealand and Australia. I am nearly through my list and it has been a great focus for me this past year and has really helped me get through a challenging time. I have a few adventures in the pipeline for next year but no definite plans as yet.