Can you believe it…it’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK again. I mean how is it possible that a whole year has flown by since the last one, so much has happened!?!
This year’s theme for MHAW is physical activity and exercise and the effect that can have on mental health. For me in particular, I find this a challenging theme because whilst I understand the concept and the science behind it, I just don’t understand how you get started with the whole exercise thing. Some of us aren’t good at any sports and we hate running and gyms, so what do we do to start ourselves off from a point of sub zero motivation?
Well, I’ve spoken to many people about this now and they’ve all said it’s just about getting into it and once you are into it, it becomes like an addiction and you do notice that your mood drops when you stop. So it really is about getting over the first hurdle and making it part of your life. Here are some things you could do and then I’ll let you in on what I am going to do:
- Walk to work / the supermarket / town – anywhere you would normally go in the car that it’s feasible to walk to. This way you are just building the exercise into your life and it has a point
- Start on holiday; who doesn’t love a swim on holiday? Or what about a beach walk every day?
- Make the dog walk a bit longer or up the pace
- Get the kids involved so that when they play, you play – you’ll be surprised at how much exercise is involved
- Start small and commit yourself to just a few star jumps or squats everyday and build them up over time
- Join a class for an active skill you want to learn, e.g. tap dancing or yoga
Obviously those are just a few of many suggestions but I think they are all do-able and you should start to feel some benefit after a couple of weeks.
I have been feeling super poorly the last couple of months and have mainly felt like a zombie. A change in diet seems to have shifted the zombie feeling at least temporarily but I still have the full body of aching joints and muscles. This is not fun but I suspect that exercise might be the thing to help me out of it and help my body fight whatever this evil inhabitant is! So, my choice is the “start on holiday” option. I wouldn’t normally delay starting something for 3 weeks but I have a combination of late work nights and a theatre production to perform in which means the next couple of weeks are rammed. I’ll provide a full update post holiday, along with a plan to maintain the increased activity levels moving forward.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has used exercise to improve their mood or anyone who has a plan to do so – show us how it’s done!!! x