The last 5 years has seen a massive shift in society with regards to mental health. What was once considered a taboo subject is now, a topic that people talk openly about with other people.
According to the charity Mind, about 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, with 1 in 6 of us experiencing problems on a day-to-day basis. A 2016 UK survey concluded that the two most prevalent conditions where Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Depression.
With so many people experiencing issues, it is no wonder that waiting lists for therapy are longer than ever. People are now beginning to turn towards self-help therapies to get the ball rolling on the road to recovery…
Exercise: The Ultimate Therapy
It’s in the news every single week: as a nation, we need to move more.
Exercise is, from personal experience, the best way to get back on track upstairs. Making an effort to get moving at regular intervals throughout the day is an incredibly effective technique for stress relief. This could be as simple as a 5 minute walk every 1 hour sitting down; not so hard, really!
However, sedentary lifestyles and untouched gym memberships have rendered many into a state of bad physical health, correlating with a steady decline in the mental wellbeing of the masses.
Tonnes of studies conducted on the matter point to the simple fact that increasing the amount of physical activity we do in our daily routines will put us on the road to better mental health. There are, however, particular types of exercise that can revolutionise your mood more radically…
HIIT The Problem On The Head…
HIIT Training is any form of high intensity (~85-95% Max Effort) cardiovascular or resistance work interspersed with brief rest periods, and is a surefire way to zone out and reset the system if you are feeling particularly stressed.
Not only will you reap the benefits of an elevated metabolism for 24-48hrs following exercise (i.e. fat loss), but this form of intense work releases tonnes of endorphins and seratonin which is known as the Happy Hormones. Basically, the emotional high you feel after a big HIIT Workout isn’t just satisfaction; its a chemical change in your body that keeps you in a positive frame of mind.
Even more interesting is one study that focused on HIIT Training and its benefits for depression (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160225101241.htm) . In a nutshell, it showed how HIIT stimulates the release of the neurotransmitters GABA and Glutamate, a lack of which is responsible for depressive disorders and low moods.
So next time you are feeling a bit down in the dumps, use this recipe from https://www.dailyburn.com/to create your very own HIIT Workout!
Grab A Mat & Get Your Zen On…
There was a time when Yoga was widely thought of as just some sort of cranky thing hippies do whilst smoking a spliff in the middle of Southeast Asia; now, however, it is one of the most practised forms of exercise in the UK, largely due to its low-impact nature and calming effect on a stressed out brain.
I am a huge fan of Yoga, and am in the process of become a qualified Yogi, and the majority of my love of it stems from the insane effect it has had on my own wellbeing.
The best way I can describe a 15-30min Yoga Flow is like pressing your body’s Factory Reset Button. After going through a series of slow, controlled isometric poses, your muscles relax along with your mind as you become more atuned to your inner self.
I know there will be someone reading this saying it is all just “boho mumbo jumbo”, but don’t diss ’till you’ve tried it, pal…
Sweat for the Soul
Low-intensity, steady state exercise (i.e. jogging, running, cycling etc.) has taken a bit of a sucker punch in recent years thanks to the rise in popularity of shorter, more intense forms of activity for those lacking time. However, if you are lucky enough to have a couple of days off, or an extended bit of free time, going for an easy run for 30-60mins has a multitude of mental benefits.
Modern life tends to be dominated by deadlines, bills, and emails from the dreaded in-laws: stresses that leaves our brains in a whirlwind of confusion. Taking the time to zone out and focus on simply putting one foot in front of the other can help transcend your muddled thoughts and ‘clear your head’.
If you can, get twice the bang for your buck by taking your workout into the Great Outdoors; studies show that those who exercise outside experience a higher degree of revitalisation and satisfaction than their indoor counterparts.
Find a local parkrun, or simply head to a park that is convenient for you, and go for a jog; your mind, body and soul will all thank you!
The Final Word
Mental health is emerging as one of the key talking points of society at the moment. Thankfully, we are beginning to enter an era of acceptance, cohesion, and openness when it comes to talking about our problems and issues.
As therapy is so hard to come by due to massive waiting lists, I strongly recommend implementing an action plan whereby you move more during your routine so as to relieve any stress or dips in mood throughout the day.
Any one of the aformentioned forms of exercise is a great place to start, and if you are cautious or shy about coming to the gym, try and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Your future self will thank you!
If you are/have been affected by any mental health issue and are wanting to get into exercise as a means of therapy, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line : firstname.lastname@example.org. I don’t bite 🙂