How to use exercise to boost your mental health – OurWarwick
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How to use exercise to boost your mental health

Rebecca Preedy | Ancient History and Classical Archaeology with Study in Europe Contact Rebecca

Winter can be a mood-kill at the best of times, but since being in lockdown I’ve heard from a lot of people that they are really struggling to stay motivated and happy. This can be a really tough time for students, with deadlines coming up, revision to think about and dissertations to work on if you’re in your final year. It’s completely normal to feel low, but that doesn’t mean you should suffer through it. One of the easiest ways to give your mental health a quick boost is through exercise, so here’s a post with a few ideas on how you can get your body moving, and get your mind into a happier place. (If you’re not usually into exercise, don’t worry. I was in set 3 for PE and absolutely useless at most sports, but I have found that gentle exercise has been a real help for my mental health in the last year or so).

1: Get outside

Some days it can be really hard to get out of bed, let alone leave the house. Believe me, I know. But getting some fresh air is a great way to blow out the cobwebs and get some real oxygen to your brain. If you’re a runner, great. If you’re not, that’s absolutely fine.  Going for a nice walk does wonders. I try to get out the house every day, even if it’s only for ten minutes or so. Start short, then build it up. Put on an upbeat playlist and step it out to get the blood pumping. If you struggle with walks, try biking instead, or set yourself a task to do while you’re out. Go and buy some ingredients to make yourself a nice dinner, or aim to come back with at least five photos of something that caught your eye outside. Taking an interest in nature can be a wonderful medicine. The snowdrops and crocuses are coming out now, which is a beautiful reminder that spring is on the way and the dredges of winter are on their way out.

2: Connect mind and body

I am a big fan of yoga, and have been since I started at Warwick. It was great to finally find a ‘sport’ that I could really feel was benefitting both my mind and my body. Yoga can really help with your body confidence, and your mental health in general. You might feel like you can’t do it because you aren’t flexible, or aren’t the ‘right size’, but you would be wrong. Yoga is completely inclusive, and designed to be practised and improved, not done all in one go. This is something that I’ve learned from doing Yoga with Adriene videos on Youtube. She’s a great teacher and really helps you to connect with your breath and your feelings. Warwick Yoga Society are also brilliant, and check out YogaToCope on Instagram for tips linking your practise with your mental health. If yoga still isn’t for you, try pilates or even tai chi.

3: Dance

You don’t have to be good at dancing. You don’t even have to be mediocre at dancing. Now that clubs are closed it feels like such a long time since any of us managed to get out and have a boogie with our friends. However, there is absolutely nothing stopping you putting on your favourite music and partying it out on your own! If you can sing along, even better. Singing is another great way to get in touch with your breath, fill up your lungs and get oxygen to your brain. I did a lot of singing at school, and it would often feel like I’d done a workout after a class. Singing and dancing can be a great stress buster, and a brilliant boost of happy hormones. If you feel weird just doing it alone in your room, don’t forget that Disco Dave does a Pop livestream every week, so you can get your house involved too!

I hope these tips are helpful to anyone struggling with their mental health in these difficult times. I know how hard it can be to motivate yourself, but if you can set aside a little time each day, or even each week to tend to your body and your needs it can be an excellent form of self-care. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact with student wellbeing if you’re struggling with your mental health. No problem is too small, and it’s just as important to take care of yourself mentally as it is physically in these trying times. As always, do share your own tips below!

Becca.

Rebecca Preedy | Ancient History and Classical Archaeology with Study in Europe Contact Rebecca

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