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Movement for Mental Health

It's Mental Health Awareness Week, and we're all about promoting mental well-being through movement! This year's theme, “Movement: Moving more for our mental health,” really captures the amazing impact that physical activity can have on our minds and emotions. Let's dive into the power of movement and explore how it's closely connected to mental health. 


Movement is not just about physical fitness; it's a holistic approach to nurturing our mental and emotional health. Regular physical activity has been proven to elevate mood, alleviate anxiety, reduce stress, improve sleep quality, enhance concentration, boost self-esteem, and foster social connections. These benefits are not merely fiction; they are backed by scientific research and resonate deeply with our lived experiences. 


Despite the wealth of evidence supporting the mental health benefits of movement, many individuals struggle to incorporate enough activity into their daily lives. Whether it's due to busy schedules, financial constraints, or personal barriers, the journey towards consistent movement can seem daunting. Mental Health Awareness Week seeks to bridge this gap by encouraging people to find moments for movement within their existing routines. 


It's important to note that the campaign isn't about intense workouts or pushing oneself beyond limits. Instead, it emphasises the value of gentle, enjoyable activities that promote emotional calmness and overall well-being. From leisurely walks in nature to mindful yoga sessions or even dance breaks during work hours, every movement counts towards nurturing our mental health. 


Now, let's shift our focus to healthcare workers, the frontline heroes who tirelessly dedicate themselves to caring for others. The demanding nature of their roles often leaves little time for self-care, leading to burnout and mental exhaustion. However, prioritising mental health is not a luxury but a necessity, especially for those in healthcare. 


As healthcare professionals, your well-being directly impacts the quality of care you provide to patients. Incorporating movement into your daily routine can serve as a powerful tool for self-care. Whether it's taking short walks between shifts, practising stress-relieving exercises, or engaging in team-based physical activities, finding moments for movement can rejuvenate your mind and body. 


Here are four tips that can help you relax and manage stress, especially during busy times in healthcare.  


Tip 1: Breathe Deeply 

Check if your breath feels shallow in your chest. Try to relax and breathe deeper, filling your belly instead of just your chest. You can lie down to practice this better. When you breathe out, your belly should go in, and when you breathe in, it should expand. 


Tip 2: Relax while Breathing 

Find a quiet spot and sit comfortably. Focus on your breathing without trying to change it. Notice how you breathe and what it feels like. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath. Do this for 3 to 20 minutes. 


Tip 3: Body Check 

Sit comfortably and straight. Start by focusing on your feet for about 30 seconds. Notice how they feel without judging. Then move your attention up your body, checking each part for sensations. End with a few deep breaths. Experience every sensation.  


Tip 4: Move Mindfully 

Stay seated and relaxed. Tense a muscle group, like your face, for 5 seconds as you breathe in. Relax those muscles as you breathe out. Repeat for your neck, shoulders, and so on, focusing on one area at a time. 


Addressing mental health within the healthcare sector fosters a culture of empathy and understanding. By openly discussing mental health challenges and promoting supportive resources, healthcare workers can break the stigma and encourage seeking help when needed. Organisations can play a vital role by offering mental health programs, access to counselling services, and creating a supportive work environment that values employee well-being. 


Ultimately, Mental Health Awareness Week reminds us of the transformative power of movement on our mental health. By embracing a lifestyle that prioritises regular physical activity, we not only enhance our well-being but also contribute to building a healthier and more compassionate society.  


To all healthcare workers, remember that your well-being matters, and integrating movement into your routine can be a cornerstone of your journey towards holistic wellness. 


Let's move together towards a brighter, healthier future—one step, one breath, and one movement at a time. 


Reference: 4 Relaxation Tips - 4 Stress Relaxation Techniques You Can Use at Work | Psychology Today