“Every day we see the difference that getting active can make” – Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Posted: 13/05/24

This year, Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 13 to 18 May. The theme for the week is ‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health.’

Here at NHS Talking Therapies North Cumbria, we’ve been supporting people with mental health problems since 2009. (You might previously have known us as First Step North Cumbria – we’re still here, just with a new name!) Every day we see and hear about the difference that getting more active can make to people’s wellbeing.

Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk activity can boost your mood and increase your mental alertness and energy. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety and help you to sleep better.

Physical activity can also help with managing thoughts and feelings in a healthy way, whether they are short-term issues because of recent events in life, or a response to trauma in the past.

As mental health professionals, we want to make sure we ‘practice what we preach’ and look after our own wellbeing too. Recently, we’ve been getting active together during our working day with some short, simple exercises in the office.

Physical activity is scientifically proven to support good mental health. That can be any type of movement, as long as it suits your individual physical abilities. It can also help to prevent issues developing into longer-term mental health problems.

Getting more active doesn’t have to mean going for a long run or joining a gym. Just find little opportunities to move around a bit more every day. If you can, stand up on the train or bus, or take the stairs instead of the escalator. Walk around while you talk on the phone or wait for the kettle to boil. Finding moments for movement throughout the day might be easier than you think.

Finding ways to move more that you really enjoy will help too. Fun, laughter, and spending time with other people are important for our wellbeing! Think about active hobbies you could try – are there any local clubs or groups that interest you? You can make catch-ups with friends more active too. Maybe, instead of meeting in a coffee shop, get your coffee to go and take a walk.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re struggling to get moving. Take small steps each day and you’ll soon feel the benefits.

The Mental Health Foundation, who run Mental Health Awareness Week, have loads more tips and ideas to help you move more – search for them online to find their website.

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or other mental health problems, NHS Talking Therapies can help. Find your local Talking Therapies service.