Exercise and your Mental Health
Mental Health issues affect one in four people in the UK during their lifetimes, and those who experience symptoms of negative mental health are much more likely to suffer with similar problems again in the future. Due to this, it is often effective for most people with mental health issues to learn how to recognise the signs of things deteriorating and how to best deal with the individual symptoms – hopefully preventing them from worsening. This is where exercise and mental health can combine to very positive effect.
Developing coping mechanisms and tactics to help yourself get back on the road to recovery when you find yourself experiencing episodes of poor mental health is an extremely important part of many types of therapies and other mental health treatments – and alongside seeking the help of a professional there are a number of things you can do to assist your mental well-being.
The world around us – whether it be on the internet, celebrity interviews, the television we watch or even the conversations we have with friends and loved ones – is constantly offering advice on how to deal with mental health issues, which often need to be taken with a pinch of salt. However, there are a number of ideas that have been explored in various studies that have suggested time and time again that our diets and lifestyles pay a huge role both in our overall health, and our mental health.
Those of us suffering with mental health issues can often find ourselves being told to walk off our “bad mood” or to “get out a little more” and make the most of the good weather – however, for most mental health sufferers getting out of the house and into the local park or gym is the last thing on their minds. In fact, the mere idea of working out in front of wall to ceiling mirrors in the local gym, or sweating our way around the park is impossible for many of us. However, exercise can be a great tool in your journey to recovery.
Exercise is known to promote the release of the endorphins or the “happy hormone” and a study which took place in 2012 with over 7000 people found that getting somewhere between two and a half and seven and a half hours of weekly exercise can make a huge difference, whilst more recent studies have found that even ten minutes of weekly exercise could begin to have a positive effect on your mental health and symptoms.
But for those of us who struggle with even the thought of a workout it can feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. However, exercise needn’t be strenuous, humiliating – or need to take place in public – especially in a world where everything is a simple click away. There a number of different forms of exercise you can practice at home, without anyone other than you needing to know.
Yoga has been used historically as a form of meditation for a number of years in a variety of different cultures. It’s popularity, both as a form of exercise and a form of mediation has grown rapidly in both the US and UK over the past ten years, with most popular gyms now offering yoga classes multiple times a week. However, one of the best aspects of yoga – especially for those of us struggling with mental health issues – is often that you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to take part.
YouTube, and other social media channels, offer a number of free, instructive videos that are tailored to a range of abilities – even for those of us who struggle to bend down far enough to tie our shoelaces in the morning! Finding time to include three 30-minute yoga sessions each week could make a huge difference to your overall mental health.
Like with yoga, one of the biggest advantages of work-out videos is that you can enjoy them from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Unlike in a workout class there is no pressure not to press pause when you feel you need to and there aren’t 30 other eyes staring at you as you try unsuccessfully to master burpees – again. Like with yoga, workout videos are offered for a variety of abilities ranging from low impact sessions to extreme workouts similar to Cross Fit and just one session a week could have a positive impact on your overall wellbeing.
Simple changes such as taking the stairs at work, rather than the lift – or choosing to walk to the shop instead of driving can help you to achieve the recommend 30 active minutes per day. Unlike the gym, jogging or running, you don’t need any special equipment or clothing to participate – or find too much extra time. Breaking your usual pattern, for example taking a different route to the shops, is also a great way to distract you and take you off autopilot – helping you to appreciate the things around you at the same time as helping you to fit in a little bit more exercise throughout the week.
Whether you try walking, yoga, workout videos – or if you do decide to brave the gym – a variety of studies have found even a minimum of 10 minutes of exercise a week could be beneficial towards both our mental and physical health. If you feel your mental health deteriorating, or are worried about experiencing mental health issues for the first time speak to a professional about the best options to help you move forward. If you’re suffering with anxiety, cognitive behavioural therapy could help you to get back on the right track towards feeling much better. Sign up for our exclusive Early Bird membership in order to learn more about how therapy could help you on the road to recovery.