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Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 

Mental Health Awareness Week occurs from the 13th 19th of May. This year’s theme is “Movement: Moving more for our mental health.”

Mental health is a critical aspect of overall wellbeing and according to Mind, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. In a workplace setting, poor mental health accounts for more than half of all work-related illnesses. Around 51% of long-term sick leave is due to stress, depression, or anxiety.

There is an undeniable connection between our bodies and minds, and regular movement is an important tool to both prevent and improve problems with our mental health. For many, finding time to move can be a struggle, however, even a short 10-minute burst of brisk exercise is enough to boost mood, energy, and alertness. It can even reduce levels of stress and anxiety and improve sleep quality.  

Positive mental health not only reduces the risk of mental illness but also enhances our ability to cope with stress, build meaningful relationships, and contribute effectively at work.

Here are some small tips you can try to take more #MomentsForMovement at work:

  1. Take regular breaks
    Sitting for long periods has been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety. Aim to take short breaks throughout the day to stand, stretch, and move around. A brief walk at lunchtime can help to clear your mind and boost your mood.
  2. Incorporate physical activity into your commute
    If possible, consider walking, cycling, or even part-walking/part-public transport as an alternative to solely driving or only catching the bus or train. Physical activity, even in short bursts, can release endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Plus, if it’s sunny, an additional boost of vitamin D can do wonders for mindset too.
  3. Desk exercises
    Simple exercises at your desk can make a significant difference. Try shoulder rolls, seated leg lifts, or stretching exercises. These can help to relieve muscle tension and improve circulation, leading to better mental focus and reduced stress.
  4. Join (or start) a workplace exercise group
    Many workplaces offer exercise or walking groups during lunch breaks or after work. Participating in group activities can provide social support and motivation to keep moving. Strengthening social connections and making new friends are an added way to improve mental health and wellbeing.
  5. Prioritise sleep, rest, and recovery
    Physical activity is most beneficial when balanced with adequate rest and recovery. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to support both your physical and mental health. According to the Sleep Foundation, poor sleep is associated with a higher risk of anxiety and depression.
  6. Don’t forget to make it fun!
    You’ll be more inclined to move in the way that you find most enjoyable. Movement and exercise needn’t be a chore and should also be suitable for you. Everyone moves in different ways so find a way that works best for you.

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Incorporating more movement into your daily routine can have a profound impact on your overall wellbeing and productivity at work. As we approach Mental Health Awareness Week, let’s commit to making small changes to move more towards better mental wellbeing.

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