ENHANCE YOUR WELLBEING THROUGH EVERYDAY ACTIVITY
Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, an initiative set up 21 years ago by the Mental Health Foundation to highlight the importance of good mental health, provide support and encourage open conversations around the topic.
We have all navigated unprecedented times over the past year, with unfamiliar circumstances and vast consequences of the pandemic resulting in heightened stress levels and a decline in wellbeing for many. If you feel as though your mental health or wellbeing has taken a bit of a hit then don’t worry – you’re not alone! In fact, a recent survey by the mental health organisation MIND concluded that around 60% of UK adults believe their mental health has worsened since the start of the pandemic.
Thankfully, there are a variety of things you can do help alleviate these low feelings and enhance your wellbeing. Whilst it is true that there is no one size fits all approach to improving ones mental health, Mental Health UK has developed a generalised 5 pillar framework named ‘5 ways to wellbeing’ which aims to help people build small yet effective activities into their daily routine to encourage positive feelings and enable us to get the most out of life. These pillars encompass the theme of physical activity and, most importantly, encourage you to find a form of physical activity that you enjoy!
This doesn’t have to mean you need to drag yourself to the gym or get out for a run, instead you could simply get outside for a walk or some gardening, put some music on and dance around the kitchen whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, or having a potter around the house during the advert breaks when watching TV. When you begin to recognise the value in each and every movement you make, the opportunities for activity become endless! Physical activity has multiple dimensions; all forms of movement from vigorous intensity activity, through to moderate activity, to simply reducing the time you spend sedentary are just as valuable for your health as any other.
As Mental Health UK champion, the best kind of activity is whatever you enjoy doing within the limits of your own daily routine. Whether you are already a frequent cyclist, a keen gardener or simply enjoy playing with grandkids at the park, you may still be wondering why physical activity is being advocated for during a week aimed at raising awareness of mental health. This is due to the well-established plethora of evidence that exists linking engagement in physical activity with enhanced mental and emotional wellbeing, demonstrating a consistent ability to reduce anxious and depressive feelings, alleviate stress and act as a key regular of mood.
In addition to aiding general wellbeing, physical activity as an intervention for those with depressive symptoms has also been found to lead to positive effects surrounding improvements in physical health, life satisfaction, cognitive functioning, and psychological wellbeing (Dunn et al., 2005). Therefore, irrespective of the severity or manifestations of your mental health, engaging in activity can have evident benefits and inspire a happier, healthier life.
Ultimately, your mental health is just as important as your physical health when it comes to your own wellbeing so, this week, we encourage you to take some time to reflect on your own mental health and consider how you can incorporate some more movement into your day to release those feel good hormones and boost your wellbeing!
The KiActiv® Team