Did you know that physical activity can be beneficial for reducing stress, and improving your mental wellbeing as well as your physical health?
Exercise can release endorphins (happy hormones) to boost your mood, and leave you feeling calmer. We’ve put together some ideas below for getting moving to improve your mental health.
Research shows that being active outside is even more beneficial for our mental wellbeing – particularly if you are getting active in nature.
A brisk walk, can lift our mood and leave us feeling more energised. You don’t have to give up a great deal of time as long as you make an effort to walk briskly to reap the most benefits. Why not set aside some time at lunchtime to go for a 15 minutes walk? You’ll probably feel more energised for the rest of the day.
If you’d like to walk with others, Co-op Health Walks are short walks which take place weekly in locations across the county. Find your nearest Health walk here.
Find more walking advice and suggestions of where to walk on our walking pages.
Running and cycling are also fantastic mood boosting and stress busting activities to do outside. Take a look at our Running and Cycling pages, for ideas and tips for getting started.
Get Active Together
Getting active with others can help motivate us to stay active, and have fun whilst doing so. Whether its an exercise class, a led cycle ride or a sport session, working out as a group provides an opportunity for making new connections and forming friendships which is also great for improving our wellbeing.
If you’re experiencing mental health problems, then there are lots of groups and session across the county encouraging people to be active. As well as providing an opportunity for exercise, these groups also give time and space to meet and chat to people with similar experiences and find support.
Find local groups and sessions on our Moving for Mental Health page.
Find what you enjoy doing to make physical activity something that you look forward to rather than a chore. Love music? why not try dancing in your kitchen every evening before you make dinner (uplifting music also has a proven effect on raising mood). If you like nature, try getting active with some gardening, or see what wildlife you can find on a daily walk, and maybe you’ll be encouraged to walk a bit further than usual. Take a look on our activity finder to search for classes or physical activities near you to enjoy, or have a look on our Try Something Different pages for more ideas.
Setting yourself realistic goals can give you a great sense of achievement when you’ve achieved them. Walking and running challenges are a great way to get active and raise money for charity at the same time. Find local events on our events page.
Any form of exercise can be great for your mental health, but research shows that if you are mindful when you exercise this can have even better results. What does being mindful mean? Simply put your full attention on the exercise you’re doing and what’s happening in the present moment. If you are going for a walk you can focus on your surroundings, noticing flowers, clouds in the sky and the sun on your face. Take a look at this Mindful Walking sheet from Mind. If you’re running try to focus on the sensation of your feet touching the ground.
Some forms of exercise such as yoga and Tai-chi encourage attention to the body and breathing, which can be very beneficial for anyone feeling anxious. There are lots of on demand yoga sessions available, if you’d rather take part at home rather than in a class. Take a look on Youtube at the Yoga with Adrienne channel.
You can search for in person and live online yoga sessions on our activity finder.
Be Kind to Yourself
Celebrate your achievements, however small – maybe keep an exercise diary to keep track of what you are doing, and how it makes you feel. Reward yourself when you’ve done well, or achieved your exercise goals, you could enjoy a bubble bath or that new Netflix series you were meaning to watch!
Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t feeling up to exercising. Ditch the negative voice in your head, there’s no need to feel guilty if you miss a day of a new exercise regime or don’t quite make the goal you set yourself, instead start afresh the next day.
If you have a particular mental health issue or health condition we recommend you read this advice from Mind before you start. If you need further help or support with any aspect of your mental health, follow the links below.
For further advice on looking after your mental well-being visit the NHS Every Mind Matters Site.
If you live in Lincolnshire you can access advice and support from Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.