January. It’s a month full of dark mornings, bitterly cold weather, and the joy and warmth of Christmas feels long gone. It can be a particularly difficult month for many of us.

Research shows that exercise can have a positive impact on your mental health and RED January encourages participants to get active every day in January, in order to boost their mental wellbeing.

Last year, in a bid to combat my own struggles with the gloomiest month of the year, I took up the challenge of RED January (Run Every Day January), an initiative that’s run in partnership with the mental health charity Mind. Personally, January often brings out the worst in my anxiety and I really wanted to focus on taking part in something that actively challenges it.

Research shows that exercise can have a positive impact on your mental health and RED January encourages participants to get active every day in January, in order to boost their mental wellbeing.

Although it’s called Run Every Day January, it’s not just about running. The team behind RED January suggest a whole host of other activities including swimming, yoga, cycling, and walking to get you exercising every day. The possibilities are endless and it’s up to you how you want to complete your RED January.

I decided to take on the challenge of running every day. At the beginning of the month I was a little nervous – my anxiety often stops me doing things and going places, but I was determined not to let it hold me back.

Each day it got easier – not just physically – and I soon found I wanted to get out and go for my daily run. Some days it was only half a mile, but it was enough to get the endorphins going and to give my mood a much needed boost. By the end of the month I’d managed to clock up a total of 115 miles!

Once January was over, not only did I experience an amazing sense of physical achievement, but I had started to feel detachment from my anxiety. It was still there in the background, but the running had given me an outlet for all the extra adrenaline. Although I haven’t been able to sustain running every day, I now make sure that exercise plays a regular role in my life, as I find my anxiety is easier to manage when I make exercise a priority.

To find out more information about RED January, or to take part, click here.