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Happy Mental Health Awareness Week! 💛 #MHAW

GemmaGemma Community Manager Posts: 679 Incredible Poster
edited May 13 in Health & Wellbeing
Happy Mental Health Awareness Week everyone! #MHAW
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How are you all doing today? <3

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the Mental Health Foundation's theme for this year is Movement: Moving more for our mental health.

The Mental Health Foundation started Mental Health Awareness Week in 2001 and it now happens every year, being the biggest opportunity for the whole of the UK to come together to focus on getting good mental health. The week aims to tackle stigma and help people understand and prioritise their and others' mental health.

One of the most important things we can do to help protect our mental health is regular movement. Our bodies and our minds are connected. Looking after ourselves physically also helps us prevent problems with our mental health. Movement helps us feel better about our bodies and improves self-esteem. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety and help us to sleep better.

At a very basic level, physical activity means any movement of your body that uses your muscles and expends energy. And so one of the great things about moving more is that there are possibilities to suit almost everyone. :)

How do you try to build movement into your daily life? Or where do you think you could do this more?

I find that going for short walk down by the canal near where I live at the end of a work day can really help by bringing small moments of calm.

If you’d like to get moving more, why not have a look at the Mental Health Foundation's guide on ideas to get started as well as tips on how to get the best mental health benefits from the movement you’re doing. We're always here too to have a chat <3

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    GemmaGemma Community Manager Posts: 679 Incredible Poster
    edited May 14
    Hey @Millie2787, thank you for posting and you raise some good points. :)

    Like you say, many people are wrongfully told that things like taking a bath or doing more exercise will bring them out the depths of depression or crisis - which alone isn't ever the case. I think what the Mental Health Foundation is aiming for this year though is to focus on the lighter wellbeing benefits of any sort of movement & they make note that this is not an exercise campaign. Their goal with the campaign is to help people find moments for movement to support good mental health and emotional calm.

    In terms of improving our day to day wellbeing, any kind of movement has been proven to have many health benefits, particularly improving our mental wellbeing. I think there’s been a particular focus on this recently as in the aftermath of the pandemic more people are working and studying from home and so it can be helpful to ensure we're building some sort of movement into our daily routines.

    You raise a really good point around accessibility that I can relate to though. If I can just lean on some personal experience here, I thought of my partner immediately when this campaign was announced. I’m a carer to my partner who suffers from a chronic condition and has daily struggles including chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and when in a flare-up, he can find it difficult to even get out of bed, let alone leave the house or go for a walk. I've seen him in the pits with both his physical health and mental health. And of course in those moments of crisis or flares, movement isn't always an option and isn’t something that would necessarily help.

    However, building in movement to his daily routine has been crucial on his road to remission. On his difficult days, this can just be stretches in bed, chair exercises, or walking to the courtyard of our flat and back. Building in movement to his days, no matter how small, has been so critical to improving the way he feels about himself, and the act of moving even a little can really make him feel even a little bit lighter. I know this is just his story though - we're all different and different things will work for different people.

    We know though that even doing small movements like stretches isn't possible for everyone, at all times. And you're right that part of living with a chronic condition and/or a disability often involves navigating inaccessible systems. My partner has experienced SO many barriers - from inaccessibilities in school, university, work, and health systems. In terms of movement, when our lift isn't working in our flat, sometimes it's not possible for him to use the stairs when he's particularly fatigued and so he can't get out for movement. We live in London and it can be a long way to travel to green space which can be a barrier too.

    I was just reading Tyler's story here from Mental Health UK on how accessibility is the main barrier to movement - he's a wheelchair user and physical activity has brought a sense of balance in his life and has really helped improve his wellbeing. But he's faced so many barriers to continue doing what he loves, such as gyms not being particularly accessible. Unfortunately it's a sad truth that society has a long way to go to break down some of those barriers.

    I think what I would say is that the main aim of this year's MHAW campaign, notwithstanding those barriers, is to showcase many people's stories for how movement (of any kind, no matter how small) can in many cases positively improve our wellbeing on that day-to-day level. But I agree that your points around accessibility and navigating barriers to movement is something that should be discussed amongst this campaign and I do believe there is space for that discussion here. :)
    Post edited by Gemma on
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    sinead276sinead276 Posts: 1,094 Wise Owl
    Happy Mental Health Awareness Week :3

    I definitely see both sides of this argument - whilst I understand the promotion of movement as a means of boosting well-being and mental health, I can also see how for some, movement is something with barriers in the way that may prevent them from doing it to the same extent as others.

    But I think ultimately as long as we do things that can benefit our mental health, it doesn't matter what form it takes. It's our own personal journeys with mental health and although research suggests potential avenues to go down for improving mental health, it is never a 'one size fits all' approach.

    So I say to move or not to move? that is the question 😂. But either way, remember that your mental health is YOUR mental health, and do what's best for you in ensuring it is protected as well as it can be

    Sending big hugs to you all
    Sinead <3
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