Mental health matters – changing the conversation around getting active

Mental health matters – changing the conversation around getting active

Posted: Tue, 21 Apr 2020 10:17

Mental health matters – changing the conversation around getting active

Looking after our mental health is more critical than ever during the COVID-19 crisis. Active Oxfordshire's Caroline shares her story and top tips on getting started, changing self-talk and the importance of being kind to yourself:

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 doesn't 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 would like to share some of the things that help me:

  • I changed my self-talk, banning the word 'should' as much as possible and changing it for 'could'. Much less pressure on myself. 'I could go for a walk', rather than 'I should go for a walk' is kinder.
  • Anything is good enough. Gardening, hoovering, a 10-minute walk (which often becomes longer) is absolutely better than doing nothing.
  • Ask myself if I have ever regretted exercise. The answer is always no!
  • Getting dressed into what ever I would wear for my activity first thing. This helps me in two ways:
    • I keep looking at myself and ask why I'm wearing leggings and tshirt!
    • I'm never going to go out in jammies and changing becomes an extra hurdle to getting active.
    • Telling other people in my household or by text, that I will be going for a walk or run at (for example) 6pm. Just getting it out there helps me commit.
    • Taking part in activity with others is impossible right nowMy friends and I inspire each other on Facebook and Instagram and through WhatsApp messages and that keeps us going. The Mayathon App looks like a great way to encourage yourself and a friend.
    • 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 ones like walking up a particular hill without stopping.
    • A treat 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 treat myself.

For further information on staying active at home and help around mental health please see Mind website. If the cause of your mental health problems are closer to home, there is help in Oxfordshire

Now more than ever, Every Mind Matters. During COVID-19, it is essential to take care of your mind as well as your body while staying at home. To help, visit Every Mind Matters to find helpful tips and advice to start taking better care of your mental wellbeing, and get your personalised Mind Plan.

These are my ideas, I would love to hear yours too. If you would like to see what I'm up to, find me on Instagram!

Tags: Blog, Featured, Mental Wellbeing, Physical Activity