Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Red Balloon of the Air staff member Anabel Stindt has lent her expertise about neurodiversity to better educate the Red Balloon community.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Movement: moving more for your mental health’. Regular movement improves your quality of sleep, your energy levels and your overall mood. People who are more physically active report feeling less stressed and more motivated. And it’s not just about making you feel better in the moment; some research suggests that regular movement can actually help to prevent mental health issues from arising in the first place.

It’s not hard to see why movement is so good for our brains! But when your mental health is suffering, going to the gym is probably the absolute last thing you want to do. The Mental Health Foundation recognises this and did some research about how to make it easier for people to move more. Their results found that while 82% of adults acknowledge the importance of exercise, over a third of adults say they just can’t find the time, while 28% say they’re just too exhausted.

Tips for Movement

If you can relate to these stats, you’ll be happy to know the Mental Health Foundation has put together some evidence-based tips to help:

Set small achievable goals
There’s no need to join a gym or buy equipment. While the official recommendation is 150 minutes of movement a week, research shows that there are significant physical and mental health benefits to doing just 15 minutes a day. Try things like running up and down stairs, doing stretches while you brush your teeth, or even just standing up every hour or two. This is a situation where every little bit really does help!

Make it fun!
It’s important to separate movement for your general wellbeing from exercise for weight loss for example, particularly for people with a tricky history around body image issues. Remember when you were little and would run and climb at any opportunity? Try to channel that and just enjoy moving again – it’s meant to be fun, not punishing.

Listen to music
Moving is often easier (and more fun!) if you get to listen to your favourite song as you go. Or you could listen to an interesting podcast or audiobook too!

Get outside
There is huge value in simply going for a walk, particularly in nature. The mental health benefits of fresh air and green spaces are huge. Plus, you might just come up with some brilliant ideas – research suggests that walking allows our brains to be more creative.

Connect with others
Social connections are so important for our mental health, so why not combine them with movement for even more impact? Try swapping going out for coffee in a coffee shop for a takeaway coffee and a walking chat.

So if exercise has always been a bit of a daunting prospect, maybe try focusing on movement instead. Pick an activity – whether it’s weeding the garden, jumping on the trampoline, or just stretching a bit every morning – and try to integrate it into your day. Your mental health will thank you for it, and you might even have fun!

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