Four years ago, Kyle Howells from Penygraig had hit rock bottom.
Living the party lifestyle, he would drink and take drugs regularly, which had a big impact on his mental and physical health. After some unforseen curcumstances with a private landlord, he found himself at risk of homelessness and, feeling like he had nowhere to turn, tried to take his own life.
“I had so much going on I had become totally overwhelmed. I was always looking for a quick fix and ways to escape so I would turn to drink and take drugs.” Kyle explained. “After a while of doing this, everything got on top of me, and I made a decision that could have been the end for me.”
Thankfully, Kyle made it through and, since then he has made it his life’s mission to support people who are struggling.
During his recovery, Kyle began to look for ways he could support his health and better himself, instead of trying to escape his problems. He began Thai boxing and found that it became an anchor to keep him focused and more positive.
“I couldn’t be half-hearted about anything when it came to my recovery. I have a daughter who I need to be there for, and I owed it to myself to do better.
“I saw such a difference in how I was feeling when I was training and and, after being approached by my coach, I agreed to take part in a Thai boxing fight as I got better. Although I didn’t win the fight, it taught me a lot about myself. I got knocked down a few times, but I kept getting up and ended the fight still on my feet. It was then I truly felt that I could achieve anything I put my mind to, and I wanted to help others realise the same thing about themselves.
“When I was 18 months old, my grandfather took his life. I think this created a path for me and what I was meant to do with my life. Where I could have ended up doing the same, I now know that I am meant to be the difference – there to empower society to become more mindful of its physical and mental health.” Kyle said.
Kyle began his journey toward helping others using social media as a tool to share tips and advice about wellbeing. He started Smile with Kyle and began sharing videos on social media of him chatting with likeminded people who had also overcome challenges in life.
One video, in which Kyle undertook a challenge set by Jamie Redwood who has twice been crowned Wales’ strongest man, helped Kyle find a new passion. In the video, the pair spoke about Jamie’s training and how he finds massive benefit in meditation and cold-water therapy, before going on to take a cold-water dip together.
“After doing the video with Jamie and trying out the cold-water therapy, I knew it was something that I wanted to make part of my practice. I also wanted to support others to try it out safely and feel the benefits I did.” Kyle added.
As well as posting social media videos, organising weekly hikes for people to join, and facilitating sessions for men’s mental health charity Andy’s Man Club, Kyle now offers sessions for people looking to try out meditation and cold-water therapy at Capel Farm Community Centre in Tonyrefail. Kyle hostsa session every Friday at 7pm, with details on times, cost and how to book available on his Facebook and Instagram pages: @SmileWithKyle, or you can email Kyle on email@example.com.
“Seeing the difference in people when I first meet them and then after I have supported them in some way, whether it be through cold-water
therapy sessions, a hike, through Andy’s Man club or just having a chat about their wellbeing, is what it’s all about for me.
“When I put on these activities I just think even if there’s only one person that turns up then that’s one person whose life I’ve potentially helped save or improve.” Kyle added.
In the future, Kyle hopes to expand his support offering to help people anywhere. He’s looking to run more sessions across communities in the hopes that he can support people to make appropriate choices and changes for a fulfilled life.
If you are struggling with your mental health, you are not alone. You can find information on the support available to you, in your area, by visiting: hubofhope.co.uk
If someone’s life is at risk or they cannot be kept safe, call 999 or go to A&E.
Whilst it may seem difficult to talk directly with your landlord if you are struggling with your money and paying rent, Trivallis’ money advice team offer free, confidential, personal and impartial advice to help tenants improve their financial situation. You can find out more about the support available to you by visiting trivallis.co.uk/money-advice-team
We would advise anyone thinking of trying cold-water therapy to start by speaking with someone, like Kyle, who can help you make sure you are doing it safely. Never dip alone and always be aware of your surroundings when near water.
Benefits of cold-water therapy are said to include:
- Boosted immune system,
- Improved circulation
- Deeper sleep,
- Boosted energy levels, and
- Improved mood.
This story is from the Spring 2022 issue of our Trivallis Valleys Magazine. To read the full issue, visit our Valleys Magazine page.