Exercise for Better Mental Health.

With my 5 in 5 marathon challenge, I’m encouraging all of you to get out and exercise as a way of improving your mental wellbeing.  We all know about the benefits of exercise to our physical health, but less is known, or understood about how exercise helps our mood, and how it can aid with managing anxiety and depression.

It’s not as straight forward as saying ‘exercise and you’ll feel better’, because sometimes it feels just the opposite.  Exercise takes effort, motivation and dedication; you can be easily motivated at the start, but as it gets harder, or winter arrives, the gloss can soon loose it’s shine.

You don’t have to struggle with a mental health disability to understand that it can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise.  Most people lead such busy lives that they don’t feel they have time to exercise, and often feel too tired when they do have time. 

It can also contribute more stress, especially if you are not confident about your ability and how you look physically.  Just one glimpse inside a gym or a quick search of social media can make you feel inferior and self-conscious.

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#5in5forMind Update – The Psychology of Endurance Running.

My decision to run 5 marathons in five consecutive days, has a touch of the bonkers about it, and I’m the first to admit it does; I sometimes stop and ask myself ‘what the hell am I thinking?’ 

I can comfortably run a half marathon, but the thought of doing twice that distance in one go still feels daunting.

The initial concerns were mainly physical; thinking about eating properly, and recovery between runs (which I think will include the dreaded ice bath)!  However, there is also going to be a psychological side to this challenge, which will need equal consideration.

The other week, I was lucky enough to be connected to the Sports Science team at the University of Hertfordshire (by Juanita Prescott from Stevenage Leisure Limited), and I had a great chat about the psychology of endurance challenges with Stephen Pack, who is a HCPC Registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist.

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Anxiety & The Brain, Part 10: Neurotransmitters.

Have you ever wondered what controls our mood?  What makes us feel happy, sad, or afraid?

The answer is chemical messengers called NEUROTRANSMITTERS; they are key players in helping to understand anxiety, and the physical reactions associated with it.

As we learnt in my blog Anxiety & The Brain, Part 5, the brain is made up of millions of neurons, and it’s these neurons that release the neurotransmitters in a process called FIRING.  There Are different types of neurotransmitter, and the ones that get released depends on the information received from our senses, and the emotion that our brain associates with that information.

Firstly, we need to look at the different types of neurotransmitter, and the effect each one has on our body and mind.

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Going Out? Make Sure to Monitor Your Anxiety Levels.

With the re-opening of shops and parts of the hospitality industry, we are entering a new phase of the Coronavirus pandemic, which will have further implications for our mental health.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you not to do things, not to go to the pub, or go shopping, because it would come from a very biased view, one that is very much based on my own fears and anxieties (which are sky high at the moment).

What I would like to say is to make sure that if you are going out, that you become even more aware of your anxiety levels, as well as the levels of those you are with. 

“pace yourself, be kind to yourself and to others; you wouldn’t expect your body to be able to sprint a marathon, so don’t ask your mind to do it.”

Everyone’s mental health has taken a bit of a battering recently, and now is just another stage that we have to try and adapt to, and this can be really challenging for the brain. Read more

Speaking About Mental Health.

The path to achieving my goals is constantly moving, and it’s a journey fraught with challenges, barriers and frustrations.  I constantly feel like I am not getting anywhere, and that I’m drowning in an endless storm.

Having said this, there may be some calmer waters ahead….. or at least a boat to help ride the waves.

Last year I did a talk about the basics of anxiety at a local school, and I really enjoyed it; I hoped that I could do more, but nothing seemed to materialise, and to be honest, I didn’t really know how to move forward with it; so it ended up being added to the pile of  what I class as ‘failures’. Read more