Scarlett Moffatt never imagined herself as someone who would be ‘into’ mindfulness.
“If you’d said to me two years ago: ‘You’ll like mindfulness’ – I’d have laughed,” the 31-year-old says with her characteristic Geordie humour. “It’s one of those things where you’re getting in tune with yourself – and I’m like, ‘No, that’s not me’. But it has massively improved my mental health. I think it’s nice sometimes to block everything out and just take a moment.”
She’s so taken with mindfulness, she’s even tried to get her friends to do affirmations and meditation – to varied success. “They laugh, and I’m like: ‘It’ll change your life’.”
Moffatt admits she only started looking after her mental health when it “declined”. She says: “We always try and look after our bodies, and actually the two are intertwined.”
Exercise is a big part of how she looks after her mind: “A lot of people exercise to lose weight, and I want to try and change that stigma. Yes, it’s important to be healthy, but exercise also releases dopamine – it makes you feel really proud of yourself that you’ve done something constructive that day.
“When my mental health took a bit of a nosedive, that’s when I really started to make an effort, to make sure I was looking after every aspect of my body.”
That’s why Moffatt has teamed up with This Girl Can to launch classes empowering women to get into exercise – perhaps if they’re a beginner, or haven’t worked out in a while.
“Sometimes, we associate exercise with it having to be a struggle, like ‘no pain no gain’ and all that type of stuff,” she says. “But actually, that’s not the case – a lot of the time it’s just nice to get your body moving, get the dopamine going and get a little bit of a sweat on,” – something Moffatt says “helps your mental health so much”.
Moffatt’s own relationship with exercise has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Growing up, she did ballroom and Latin dancing “for enjoyment – it wasn’t to try and change the way I looked or anything like that”, she explains.
“It was because I absolutely loved it – I love the feeling of being free and having a dance around.” Things started to change as she got older, with Moffatt saying: “Honestly, social media has a big part to play, because it almost feels as if you have to have a six-pack to be at the gym,” – and it reinforces this “pressure to look a certain way”.
This pressure is something that’s plagued Moffatt for years, but now she’s at a happier place with her body. For her, body positivity comes from “being kinder to myself”, she says simply.
“I realised I was missing out on quite a lot of life, because I was so focused and worried about what other people would think. I remember going to Vegas and missing a pool party, because the thought of being in a swimsuit was making me so anxious.
“That makes me so sad that I missed out on such a fun day, all because I was bothered about what other people thought.”
That’s why body positivity is something Moffatt really wants to champion, “Because I don’t want anyone else to ever feel the way I felt”.
Now, Moffatt says: “I’m happy and I don’t miss out on life – I go to group classes to exercise, I wear bikinis and things like that. I realise how much more fulfilled my life is.
So I try to drum it into everyone that life’s really short, and you’ve got to do things now. As women especially, a lot of us will say, ‘I’ll do that when I can fit into this dress’, or, ‘I’ll go on that holiday when I’ve lost this amount of pounds’ – and we should just be kind to ourselves.”
And Moffatt is even more optimistic for the future. “My little sister’s only 15, and when I ask her what she’s done with her day at school, there have been days where she’s like, ‘We were chatting about coping mechanisms today’.
It’s really good because when I was at school, that wasn’t really a thing – there was a stigma attached to it.
“The more we talk about it, it is getting better. People are realising they’re not alone, it’s not forever, it’s just a moment – so it’s really good things are changing.”
Scarlett Moffatt has teamed up with Sport England and EMD UK to launch This Girl Can Classes to help more women rediscover the joy of being active.