Mental Health Awareness Week - Moving more for your mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week - Moving more for your mental health

Hey everyone, happy Friday! We’re coming to the end of the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Since 2001, the charity has promoted an annual week for people to focus on, learn about and discuss their mental health - from young people in school to professionals in the workplace. This year’s theme is moving more for your mental health. On MHF’s website, you can read their fourteen tips to boost your mental health by moving more, which you can find linked below:

I've picked three of my favourite tips to explore in today’s blog:

Joyfully active

Hopefully many of us can remember numerous moments of joy from our childhood that were inextricably linked to movement, whether it be running around playing football in the back garden or chasing friends around the playground. Unfortunately, as we've aged the majority of us have probably found that movement has somehow become synonymous with “fitness”. It seems our culture unconsciously squeezes the fun out of movement as soon as we reach adulthood, almost automatically. How many of us have repeatedly visited the gym to do workouts that bring us absolutely no joy? To counter this, my first tip is to move in ways that bring you joy and connection. Don't view movement as a way to keep “fit” or as just another item to tick off the to do list. If you enjoy going to the gym or running, that's amazing. Meanwhile, your goal shouldn’t be to move in the same way as most popular fitness influencers just because you follow them on Instagram and that’s what you see them doing. You don’t need a gym membership or a pair of running shoes to be joyfully active. If your favourite activity is walking the dog, go for more dog walks! If you have a favourite team sport, spend time playing it with your mates! If you love dancing around the kitchen to your favourite playlist while you cook, dance away!

Rest is key

My second tip is one I’m terrible at adhering to, but it's pivotal. Rest. Whatever your favourite movement is, you don’t have to spend hours doing the most physically intense version of it everyday (we can’t all be like Russ Cook, as incredible as he is). Some days it’s fine if the only movement we do is a gentle stroll around the park or taking the stairs instead of the lift at the office. Also, no surprises here but we could all do with more, better quality sleep. Sleep does so much for our ability to move. It helps repair our bodies, it consolidates newly acquired motor patterns, it enhances our ability to perceive and tolerate effort and, obviously, it replenishes our energy. 

Celebrate YOUR wins

How many of us have achieved a goal then immediately moved onto the next thing or, even worse, worried about how many people will validate our success on social media or, worse still, compared our achievement to that of someone else? Whether you’ve been out for a walk for the first time in weeks, run your first 5k, attended your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class or PB’d an ironman triathlon, your win is your win. Celebrate those little wins because who knows where those small steps in your journey will lead? Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. That way you can continue to make healthy, positive, forward steps moving through life. Don’t let comparison be the thief of joy, especially when it comes to being active as there is so much joy to be found in movement. 

Never miss a Phase blog post - subscribe here