Ahead of World Mental Health Day on Sunday, we want to highlight the importance of mental wellbeing; and looking after ourselves and those around us. We also want to help and support you by suggesting ways to improve your mood and look after your mental health.
One thing that certainly boosts our mood, and we think you should try too, is exercise. All sorts of movement from walking, cardio, strength training and yoga have been shown to improve mental wellbeing and be a huge mood booster. Here’s why...
Getting active and working out for 45-minutes is a great way to switch off from the outside world. By having something for your brain to focus on, working out provides a perfect distraction from stressful situations in life. Exercise also reduces your cortisol levels which will help you both physically and mentally cope with stress better.
Staying in the present
Working out can help you pay attention to the present moment more. Being aware and mindful of your surroundings when you are walking or running; being aware of your body when you are weight lifting or practising yoga are all ways in which you can be more present during a workout. Being more mindful and present can help you regroup and feel calmer. Being outside in nature and getting active outdoors is a great way to connect to the world around you and find peace in the present.
Being active during the day can help you use up your energy stores meaning that you feel more tired at the end of the day. Increased tiredness at the end of the day will of course lead to a better, more restful nights sleep. Regular exercise will help regulate your sleep pattern. Sleep is thought to have protective effects on the brain helping mood. We all know how we can feel negative after a bad nights sleep and how much more positive we feel after a great sleep.
Increased happy chemicals
Physical activity releases feel-good chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. These chemical changes in our brains can positively impact our mood and improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Improvements in mood from exercising are also thought to be caused by an exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain which supports us in how we deal with stress.
Exercise can boost our mood by improving our self-esteem. Training and working out can provide a focus to set goals on, and therefore, something to work towards. By seeing improvements in ourselves and meeting set goals, a huge sense of accomplishment and pride can be felt. This is not only mood-boosting but also hugely confidence-boosting.
It’s not just exercise that can have a hugely positive effect on our mood. Here at WithU, we love incorporating other activities into our lives to look after our mental wellbeing, and we encourage you to do the same.
Some of our favourite mood-boosting activities include:
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Socialising with friends and family
- Being creative: writing, painting, drawing
- Taking the time to cook a nice meal
- Dancing or singing
- Listening to music or a podcast
- Spending time outside, with nature
- Spending an hour away from social media or any screens
This World Mental Health Day we encourage you to try some of these mood-boosting activities and work to implement them into your daily life. By doing at least one mood-boosting activity every day, you can ensure you are working to looking after your wellbeing.
Harvard Health. (2020, July 7). Exercising to relax. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax
Mind. About physical activity. Mind, the Mental Health Charity. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/physical-activity-and-your-mental-health/about-physical-activity/
NHS Website (2021), NHS UK
Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry, 8(2), 106. https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a