- 06 Nov 20
Darren Kennedy is a presenter, columnist, and entrepreneur, and one of this year's Movember ambassadors. We spoke to Darren about life in lockdown, his tips for keeping healthy, and why the Movember campaign is so important to him.
Movember is the leading charity changing the face of men’s health on a global scale. Raising funds to deliver innovative, breakthrough research and support programs that enable men to live happier, healthier and longer lives, the Movember campaign started out as an advocacy group for testicular and prostate cancer.
But in addition to tackling key health issues faced by men, Movember is working to encourage men to stay healthy in all areas of their life, with a focus on staying socially connected, and becoming more open to discussing their health and significant moments in their lives.
How have you been in the second wave of lockdown?
The first few days were rough, but I'm back into the swing of things now! It's just bizarre, it definitely takes you a second to adapt.
Were you able to keep working both lockdowns?
The first time around everything stopped, and this time around work is continuing. For a lot of what I do, I get an exemption as well. So if I need to travel to the studio or things like that, I can.
What are your go-to ways to stay sane and healthy during a period of time like this?
Exercise is key for me. I got kind of into swimming and going for dips in the sea, and that's been an absolute god-send. Regardless of what's been going on, even if it's just a busy day or you're stressed at work, if you launch yourself into the fresh Irish sea, it brings you back to yourself, and refocuses you.
But otherwise, I'm just making sure that I'm still active. I'm very active normally, and obviously with restrictions the confinement can be difficult. But trying to do little home workouts, even if it's fifteen to twenty minutes, or even if it's a terrible workout. You do feel better after it. The fact that you went to the effort helps, as well.
With the darker evenings now, it's kind of a struggle, but I try to go for frequent walks. I've got my little dog Harry, so he's a great reason to get out for walks a couple times a day. And in a broader sense, maintaining connection with friends and family has been really helpful. Keeping up to date with what's going on with their lives is so important to us all. Also, trying to – as tempting as it is to have a drink every night of the week! – just not. Restraint and motivation.
What about social media, do you use that to stay connected?
Actually, I find that one of the things that has been really crucial is, on the days when I don't have to be on it, to make sure the phone is away. Speaking for myself, you could end up whiling away two or three hours no bother, and you don't feel any better for it at the end!
Whereas, if I read a book for an hour, I do feel much better. Curtailing my use of social media is probably another way that I keep a healthy mind.
It's important to make sure you're still connected to real life...
How did you first get involved with Movember?
I became aware of Movember for the first time when they launched, and their focus was on testicular and prostate cancer. I've never worked with them directly before, but would have had interactions with them. Then this year, obviously, they've broadened their remit to include mental health and suicide prevention amongst young men. That really resonated with me, having experienced suicidal ideation as a teenager. It's not something I deal with or battle with now, thank God, but I've always been very cognisant of the effects that modern living has on us, and Covid feels like a multiplier effect. I think the rate of male suicide in particular is not being recognised or reported on, and it has skyrocketed during the pandemic.
I read a piece you wrote in the Independent where you talk about how you remember actively suppressing the emotional side of yourself when you were younger. Do you think, in the last few years, there's been more of a space made for men to express their emotions?
I hope so, I definitely think (at least in my experience), that young men seem to be more in tune with their emotional side. It's being more in tune with it, and being more vocal about how you're feeling. We've still got a long way to go, and I know myself that I've done a lot of work on it. I'm very aware of where I stand on that spectrum. It's continuous work, for my part. The default can be to close up, and to live in your own head, which can be an awful place to be – if you don't take care of it. It is changing, but like with every great change it's going to take a long, long time.
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