Movement Over Mind
The World Health Organisation describe health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Physical activity is known to be one of the best ways to improve your mental health and well-being, having the capability of treating mild to moderate depression. A study by Harvard T.H Chan of Public Health, reported that exercise could decrease the numbers of people falling ill with depression by 26% through physical activities; such as running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour. Besides the fact exercising releases endorphins, it has the ability to provoke changes in brain patterns and reduce the likelihood of relapse. Indulging yourself into exercise routines can decrease negative ruminating, giving your mind time to break the cycle of continual harmful thought patterns.
Hope, 29 from South London said:
"Running and other forms of exercise gives thinking space and extra ways to support myself and managing my brain. I think physical activity is good for all of us to give us space and a rush of endorphins…. it is a massive part of my recovery and I now really enjoy working out and have fun doing it."
Skateboarder James, 25 from Bath said:
"I find it really reassuring to know that I can go skating to fully take my mind off things and unwind. I think if I didn't have skating, I'd end up finishing work and spending most of the evening/night continuing to think about the things that are stressing me out - where skating allows me to leave all of that and fully put my mind elsewhere. It's a cliché, but going skating, you can pretty much forget about everything. "
The links between physical and mental health are uncanny. It has been reported on multiple occasions that physical issues often lead to more mental health issues, and vice versa. Therefore, it is invaluable for our society to promote physical well-being, especially putting this into practice for younger generations. Not only so they find enjoyment and passion from physical activities, but so they are informed enough to understand the detriments of not taking care of themselves physically, can also impact them mentally. It is also important that people are educated about what physical activity actually means and the different ways you can explore physicality to improve your mental health.
Dance graduate Alex, 23, from Manchester shared her thoughts on how movement and exercise can promote positivity within body and mind.
"I think moving the body is so vital to keep your mental health happy – whether that be dancing, exercising or just literally walking to the shops!
When I started applying to university I was unsure whether I would be able to attend due to poor mental health. However, it was actually the dance course that brightened everything up for me and completely changed my mentality about life as a whole.
The course opened my eyes to how important moving the body was. It was amazing to study how moving the body can release so much tension, stress, worry and anything that’s bringing you down, or even holding you back.
We learnt how the treatment of dance movement psychotherapy can help those suffering with a wide range of [mental health illnesses, such as] eating disorders, depression, anxiety and also patients with dementia and Parkinson’s.
When you begin to explore your body and move with whatever mood/ mental state you are in, it really helps to express that feeling. I think in order to do that it’s so important to notice how your body is actually feeling, recognise those feelings, explore them with movement - and it’s incredible how much better you feel after having expressed these through movement.
Physical activity can be different for each and every one of us. It is important that the phrase doesn’t frighten you off. Physical health can be a dance class, a run or even something as simple as gardening. Gardening has huge benefits for your mental and physical health and well-being. It has an incredible therapeutic value and enables people to restore balance to their lives. It also has been proven to boost your mood and reduce stress and anxiety, all whilst working towards something positive.
Social programmes which engage communities to be more active could be a way to combat severe mental health issues, specifically in those which are more susceptible to mental health issues due to their environment. Offering programmes where individuals can work towards a goal, focus their mind into something with a positive and healthy outcome is something beneficial to not only that individual, but society and the economy. If these opportunities are not available we will see further groups fall into mental health detriment and increased statistics. As individuals there are an array of areas we need to focus on to keep ourselves, bodies and minds, healthy. If we don’t address the links within our health spectrum, we will always experience health problems.
Like the World Health Organisation states, there is no health without mental health.
Mind Charity have a great page on their website listing activities you can get involved in which promote physical and mental health, if you are interested in getting yourself outside and more active follow the link and see what opportunities are available in your area.
Additionally if you’ve been struggling with your mental health or are having suicidal thoughts, or you know somebody who is, these are the numbers to call to get some help.
Samaritans: 116 123
CALM: 0800 58 58 58
Papyrus (for those under 35): 0800 068 41 41
Childline (for children and young people under 19): 0800 1111
The Silver Line (for the elderly): 0800 4 70 80 90