These are indeed unprecedented events we find ourselves living through. Coronavirus came out of the blue and took the feet out from under all of us. Few of us are unaffected and this prolonged period of social isolation means opportunities to share our thoughts and emotions are more elusive than ever.
Current Mental Health Challenges
I imagine there are few of us who don’t feel changed in some way by what is happening around us. The anxiety many of us feel now arises from fear of the unknown and worry. This anxiety may be a new and unfamiliar experience we feel ill equipped to deal with. Many scientific studies over the years have demonstrated that stress, depression and emotional events can cause physical symptoms including fatigue, digestive troubles and insomnia to name a few.
My own struggles with my mental health began when aged 17. I lost my brother; only 15 months my junior, killed instantly in a motorcycle accident. My life changed on that day and as anyone having had this experience knows life goes on but is never quite the same.
Then when I was 33 and a first time mum and shortly after celebrating my Son’s first birthday a worrying lump began to appear around the base of his spine, his tummy was swollen and his nighttime crying was wearing us down. A trip to the GP, urgent referral to a paediatrician and that same day we were admitted to Southampton hospital for tests which quickly showed a Malignant Tumour attached to his Coccyx. The 10 months of Chemotherapy that followed and his surgery to remove the remains of the Teratoma left us all in a state of shock.
Why share this story
I have had my battles with depression and anxiety and I have spent significant chunks of my life exploring different strategies to improve my mental health. For me movement plays a huge part and is my ‘go to’ on difficult days.
How can Exercise Help?
The benefits of physical activity include: less tension, stress and mental fatigue, a natural energy boost, improved sleep, a sense of achievement and exercise can be fun. Practicing Pilates, Yoga and enjoying the outdoors is my movement prescription for myself.
Benefits of Pilates
The mental health benefits of Pilates can be overlooked because of the traditional focus on Pilates for back health and core strength. But when we do Pilates we connect the body with the mind; focusing the mind on the technique and how your body feels while in a class is a very mindful activity.
Pilates is brilliant for stress reduction; aside from the feelings of wellbeing from moving and mobilising your body, the focus on breathing can help to switch on the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation reducing stress.
Move More Feel Better — It’s not Just Me!
Did you know that movement creates changes in brain structure and function and improves mood and mental abilities. I came across a great video this week all about the science of how physical activity impacts the brain. I love that moving is not just good for muscles and bones but our mental health too. I have certainly self medicated with movement and will continue to do so! The great news is it doesn’t have to be hard! Activity has a part to play in managing stress, mild to moderate depression and anxiety whether induced by your time of life, your personal circumstances or your professional life.
Checkout some very digestible science here from Dr Tom Bullock Cognitive Neuroscientist
Move to Live…Live to Move with
Build more movement into your day, your week, your life!
This week I sat down with Health and wellness coach Nikki Chamberlain; World Marathon Majors 6 Star medal winner for a chat. Why should we be moving more? What movement is best? How can we make movement a daily habit? Whose responsibility is it anyway?
As always please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions.
I look forward to seeing you again soon on Zoom.
With all my best wishes.
Move More, Feel Better, Live Longer