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Get moving for Mental Health Awareness Week

| Heidi Thompson | 13 May 2024

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from Monday 13 May to Sunday 19 May 2024. The week aims to tackle stigma and help people understand and prioritise their and others' mental health. The theme, as set by the Mental Health Foundation, is “Movement: moving for our mental health”.

Why movement matters

Studies show that movement and physical activity helps our mental health by boosting energy, managing stress, improving sleep, reducing anxiety and depression, and it can help us to prevent physical illnesses. Research by the charity, Mental Health UK shows that 56% of people found that exercising regularly helped them to alleviate stress and prevent burnout in their lives.

Move your way

Moving our bodies and being physically active is great for our mental health. However, research by the Mental Health Foundation shows that more than a third of UK adults find it challenging to find the time for movement.

There can be numerous barriers to being physically active and moving such as low energy, finding time, lack of confidence, or financial constraints.

When life’s busy, it can be tricky to find time for wellbeing-boosting activities but finding moments for movement might be easier than you think. Movement doesn’t need to be going to the gym, running a marathon or taking part in a team sport – and it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. It can be as simple as stretching in the morning while you’re making breakfast, moving a 1-2-1 meeting to a walking call, taking the stairs instead of the lift, or dancing in your kitchen while you cook dinner. These moments will add up!

This Mental Health Awareness Week, get moving for your mental health!

Other ways to improve your mental health

There are lots of other ways in which to reduce stress and aid mental wellbeing alongside movement.

Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically, so it's important to establish a routine, make your sleeping environment comfortable, avoid screen time and try to wind down with a relaxing activity before bed.

Spending quality time with friends or family, talking to someone about how you are feeling or finding ways to help other people, such as volunteering initiatives, can all help stop feelings of loneliness and improve mental health and wellbeing.

It is important to do things that make you happy, like cooking a meal, reading a book, trying a new hobby or learning a new skill.

Paying attention to the present moment, noticing your thoughts and feelings or focusing on your senses can help you gain a better perspective. This is sometimes called mindfulness. The NHS website contains more information about practicing it in daily life.

For more ideas, please click on the links below:

How to get involved in Mental Health Awareness Week

There are a number of mental health charities running their own campaigns during Mental Health Awareness Week. Here’s an update on what’s happening and how you can get involved.

Mental Health Foundation wants to help people to find #MomentsForMovement in their daily routines. It wants people to use the time they spend waiting to move more, such as marching on the spot while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. It is also asking people to take part in Wear It Green Day on Thursday 16 May to raise vital funds and awareness for mental health. In addition, there is a skydive challenge and a Strava running challenge taking place. Its website contains lots of great tips on how to boost your mental health by moving more.

Mental Health UK wants people to #MoveYourWay by finding something that moves your body and mind. Its website lists well-known types of exercise as well as ways to fit movement into your day. It is also encouraging people to take on its 31 Miles in May challenge – you can walk, run, cycle, or skip, whichever suits you. Registration is free and if you raise £100 you will receive a medal.

Mind is launching its #NoMindLeftBehind campaign. Over 2 million people are waiting for NHS mental health services and Mind is calling on all political parties to commit to making sure that everyone can access quality mental health care when they need it. It is asking people to help raise awareness, donate vital funds or join its political campaign to put mental health at the centre of the 2024 general election.

Rethink Mental Illness wants to get the mental health conversation moving and raise awareness of people living with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia, OCD or bipolar disorder. It is campaigning for reform of the Mental Health Act and more awareness of what needs to change to improve the lives of people severely affected by mental illness.



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