Jo Morton-Brown

Hi all, my name is Jo.

If I were to describe myself in five words I would say that I’m friendly, outgoing, loving, upbeat and genuine.

I personally believe I have the best job in the world; I am an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy, working as a psychodynamic counsellor at several schools within the Essex area.  I am also a trained Youth MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) instructor and deliver courses throughout the county about mental health issues affecting young people.  Working directly with young people, I see the positive impact physical activity and sport can have on our mental health; that’s why it’s vital for us to be active.

At the age of 33, exercise is one of my top priorities (as well as chocolate!).  This has been something I’ve realised more and more over the years.  I don’t favour any particular sport; I mainly enjoy going to the gym or doing aerobic/holistic/spin classes.  Life can be tough and I am aware of how precious time can be, but it’s important that we stay active as the benefits are endless: for me personally it improves my mood, allows me to feel more focussed, keeps my heart healthy, my body strong, and my feet firmly grounded.  It also boosts my self-esteem, decreases my stress levels, and contributes to a better and more balanced lifestyle.

I exercised throughout my pregnancy; as the weeks passed my jogging slowly decreased to a waddle, but I kept active.  I’m sure it helped during my third trimester and it really did get me back into shape after the birth of my son, Charlie.  Sixteen weeks after the birth, I joined a Buggy Bootcamp and made some true friends amongst the Mums who had extra wobbly bits like me.

One of the most important aspects of any physical activity has to be its impact on our self-esteem and perceived self-worth.  A vital part of my job is encouraging young people to realise their own self-worth and the importance of self-care.  Self-care is not being selfish; self-care allows us to be more self-aware and this is important to each and every one of us.  Making time for physical activity should be a key component of self-care.

I agree with that “we need to change the way we view physical activity in the UK in order not to see it as something we ‘have to do’ or ‘should do’ for our health, but as something that we do because we personally value its positive benefits to our wellbeing”. Easier said than done, but any kind of physical activity can boost mental wellbeing – from walking to swimming to a round of golf.

Whenever I set myself a challenge, I always make sure my goals are:

S – Specific – you have a clear idea of your objective

M – Measurable – you will know when you’ve achieved them

A – Achievable – you can achieve them

R – Relevant – they mean something to you

T – Time-based – you set yourself a time limit to achieve your goals

These goals really did help me achieve my dream of running the London Marathon this year. Had somebody have said to me ten years ago – or even at the birth of Charlie – that I would be running the London Marathon, I would have said “on your bike”.  It’s taken me years to build up my fitness to run the marathon: lots of blisters, sweat, more sweat, lots of happy and sad tears and sheer determination.  But I smashed it!

The feeling of mental wellbeing and sense of achievement I felt after running the Marathon made me more determined than ever to promote the positive impact of physical health.  Becoming a ‘This Girl Can’ Ambassador would be another massive step in this direction.