How being on the West Coast of Ireland improves my mental health as a mum

I'm not going to tell you about how I traded medication and therapy in for some quality time with nature. I'm not saying that your soul will be uplifted as you cross the threshold of the N4 or that a strip of grass growing wild in the middle of a road can 'fix' you. In fact, I am of the opinion that if you believe your mental health problems can be 'fixed' at all, you will find it harder to make progress.

That being said, I have found that there is nothing quite like a week in Ireland's West Coast for my own mental health...

As a child, I saw the wild coast of the Atlantic as the edge of the world. There was something dreamy about the sheer amount of water between us and the next land mass.

The amount of life that existed in the dark waters, that we knew little about but somehow felt connected to. I felt satisfaction as my feet turned numb. Warm water felt unnatural to me and the brain freeze as I dived under each wave was cleansing.

Like the crevices of our minds were being filtered by the sea and the air that surrounded it. Same goes for the heat of the sun, rare as it was. It was as if every element of nature at this 'edge' of the world could enter our brains and clear them of worries, thoughts, memories we'd rather not keep. Airing out the mind, as it were.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Wild Atlantic Way Pics (@wild_atlantic_way_pics) on

It's a method that still works years later. Maybe it's because waking up to the beaches of Sligo, Mayo or Galway is a world away from rising to the sounds of the city. Maybe it's because it means some much needed days off work or the fact there is no wi-fi in a mobile home. But I can't help but feel that the reason I feel better down West is because my daughter is now squealing happily as her feet turn numb.

That her eyes close in relaxation as the sunbeams rest on her sun-creamed little face. The drops of rain that cling to her sandy hair seems cleaner than at home, even if they might not be.

The coast gives her the same magic it gives me: peace. I can relax a little, in the knowledge that she has learned the secret of returning to these special places when she needs it most. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Shane (@coogs72) on

I can't speak for those who live in the countryside and I am sure there is a 'grass is always greener' element to this philosophy. However, the change is obvious.

There's something about the sea air, the rural skies and sounds and smells. Your mind gets a break. And, though I know it's not a permanent solution, a week in Ireland's West Coast can give me the peace I need to work on my mental health when I get home, and it lasts far beyond the N4. 

Anna Murray is an Irish student mum to one little girl.

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