Mental health awareness week

Movement and Mental health

Did you know this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is all about movement? So here we share how physical activity works on so many levels to help mental health.

Although we call it mental health, a lot of mental ill health can affect us very much in a physical way.  As an example, we thought we would remind you of the physical symptoms of depression.

Physical symptoms of depression:

  • moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
  • constipation
  • unexplained aches and pains
  • lack of energy
  • low sex drive (loss of libido)
  • changes to menstrual cycle
  • disturbed sleep – for example, finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning.

If you think about it, if mental ill health affects us physically, it makes sense then that physical things can help manage it. This is where activity, exercise and movement come in.

Physical benefits of movement, exercise, and activity, have shown to improve:

  • circulation and high blood pressure
  • breathing
  • appetite
  • muscle strength
  • bone mass

Psychologically, if you are stressed, depressed or anxious, engaging in a physical activity can help in several ways.

Psychological benefits of movement, exercise:

  • mood
  • self esteem
  • energy levels
  • self-satisfaction
  • confidence

Behavioural benefits of movement, exercise, and activity, have shown to improve:

  • motivation
  • socialising
  • a sense of routine and control
  • concentration and focus
  • decisiveness

In addition, distraction can be useful because if your physical activity distracts you from your worrying thoughts, you are not releasing the stress hormones in your body. Adrenaline and cortisol are the fight/flight hormones that can trigger unwanted physical symptoms associated with mental ill health.

Depression can be experienced at different levels, from mild, moderate to severe. As a rule of thumb, if you are experiencing some of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, it is advised you consult your GP.

If you have suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately, the Samaritans are there to listen to anyone confidentially. You can visit their website by clicking here where you can email them for an online chat or telephone them on 116 123.  They listen and give you your own space to talk without telling you what to do.

Further articles within our library are:

If you are interested in reading similar articles, here are a few:

A  supply teacher guide to managing burnout, click here
Teacher stress, click here
10 teacher wellbeing tips, click here

Don’t forget, if you are a  registered supply candidate with us, you can access discounted CPD via CPD online who offer relevant courses. Mental Health Awareness for Teachers is a useful course that covers a lot of need-to-know tips. To read more click here.