Help and advice to get you active for University Mental Health Day!


Help and advice to get you active for University Mental Health Day

It’s University Mental Health Day (2nd March); and to mark the occasion, people up and down the country are being encouraged to get active.

Unfortunately, 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer a mental health problem each year – and this number is rising. Whilst seeing a doctor or psychiatrist for medication or talking therapies may be required in certain cases, we can take small steps to combat some of the symptoms.

Sometimes the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling terrible is to get up and out there. Feelings of apathy are common side effects of illnesses like depression; so to expect someone to get out and go for a jog can sometimes feel like asking them to get out and move mountains.

However, did you know that the NHS reckons you’re 30% less likely to suffer a mental health issue if you exercise regularly? Yep, the last thing you want to do could well be the one thing that results in a shift for the better for you and your overall health!

Honestly, I know that it sounds like a load of rubbish when you’re tired; but I can attest to the fact that working out really does make you feel so much better. I had a three month stint last year where I went to the gym six times a week (for the first time in my life), and I’ve never felt better. I’m kicking myself for giving it up, and as I’m writing this, I’m promising myself that I’ll get back in the game as soon as I can.

The trick is to find something you actually enjoy. I had always found the gym kind of boring before that time, which is why I’d never seriously given it a go before. Then I discovered Zumba! It’s so much fun; it’s basically like dancing your way to fitness. And no, you don’t have to be super-fit.

My boyfriend swears by yoga and has dedicated so much time to it that he even blogs about it now – and studies by the likes of Harvard University in America has extensively shown the benefits of the practice when it comes to your mental health, too.

These days, we like to push the limits in so many ways, so why would fitness be any different? If you’re feeling lacklustre and you’re craving inspiration, many cities now have some really quirky options when it comes to workouts. How does aerial hoop, cheerleading or rave aerobics sound?!

If classes aren’t your thing, there are so many different ways to work out. You could focus on high intensity training, weight lifting, or even just your standard bout of cardio at the gym. Swimming is another amazing exercise to get into; splashing around rarely feels like hard work, but you’re doing your body and mind so many favours by doing it!

Need some inspiration?

Of course, if you’re shy, you might not want to go to a group class or a big gym, because it can feel intimidating. That’s fine! There are plenty of exercises you can do from your student accommodation, from stretches in your bedroom to workout DVDs.

Just be sure to be careful and don’t make too much noise – we don’t want to be getting calls asking if a herd of elephants has moved in! If all else fails, you could even take up power walking around your city or town.

Today’s the day where mental health is on everyone’s minds, but for some of us, we can’t escape thinking about it, day in, day out. Getting active is something you can get into anytime, anywhere.

Don’t forget though, if you ever feel like you’re going through something that a spot of cardio won’t fix, you should see your GP as soon as possible. You’d go to see them about a physical illness – so a mental illness should be no different!