Mental health matters – changing the conversation around getting activeSave this item
It’s easy to say ‘becoming physically active will help your mental health and wellbeing’. What if just getting out of bed and motivating yourself to do anything is a struggle? You know that you would feel better after exercise, but it just doesn’t seem to happen.
I’ve suffered from severe mental health problems in the past. They’re now, thankfully, largely under control and without a doubt, exercise has been one of the biggest contributors to my (generally good) mental health. To help others, I’d like to share some of the things that have helped me get active and stay active even when feeling low:
- I changed my self-talk. Banning the word ‘should’ as much as possible and changing it for ‘could’. This puts much less pressure on myself. ‘I could go for a walk’, rather than ‘I should go for a walk’ is much kinder.
- Anything is good enough. Gardening, hoovering, a 10-minute walk (which often becomes longer) is absolutely better than doing nothing.
- I set myself a simple target. Like just leaving the house and turning right (but it could be left, whatever works for you).
- I ask myself if I have ever regretted exercise. The answer is always no!
- I get dressed into whatever I would wear for my exercise or activity first thing. This helps me in two ways: I keep looking at myself and ask why I’m wearing leggings and t-shirt. I’m never going to go out in pyjamas so changing becomes an extra hurdle to getting active.
- I tell other people in my household or by text, that I will be going for a walk or run at a specified time. Just putting it out there helps me to commit.
- Taking part in activity with others. Find your activity tribe who are supportive and non-judgemental in a class, club or among your friends. We inspire each other on Facebook and Instagram and through WhatsApp messages and that keeps us all going.
- Having a goal. It doesn’t have to be an event (although it may work for you). It could be achieving something like 30 minutes running. Couch to 5k is brilliant for this and the app took me through starting to run with some friendly voices (Sarah Millican was my favourite). I also have goals like walking up a particular hill without stopping. It seems to work for me and it might for you.
- I treat myself when I achieve my goal. I have to admit I love funky leggings and tops and if I achieve one of my big goals I go out and treat myself.
Now more than ever, it’s essential that we take care of our minds as well as our bodies. The above works for me. If you’re struggling, I hope they work for you.
Visit Every Mind Matters to find helpful tips and advice to start taking better care of your mental wellbeing and get your free personalised Mind Plan.
If the cause of your mental health problems is closer to home, there is help across Kent & Medway.
Life can get really tough sometimes but talking can help. Release the pressure and don’t suffer in silence.
Starting something new can be a challenge and getting active is no exception. Visit Mind for handy tips, resources, and stories to help you on your way.