Saturday is Mental Health Awareness Day, and in the current times it’s incredibly important that we take care of ourselves and each other.
Activity & Exercise are key for mental health as well as our physical health; Energised Guest Blogger Maggie Saunders has some interesting thoughts on the links between mindfulness and exercise, read more below…
“The NHS recommends 2 hours 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, or 1 hour 45 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity. Shockingly, data from the World Health Organisation show that millions of British aren’t getting the exercise they need. In 2018 more than a third of British adults were not getting enough physical activity, and it’s a continuation of a trend that dates back to 2001. A reversal seems highly unlikely, especially in this time of Covid that is forcing many to work from home — where distractions are aplenty.
That is why a new approach to physical activity is necessary to get people up and moving. At the centre of it must be mindfulness, as it goes hand-in-hand with exercise. There is even mounting evidence that mindfulness spurs physical activity. A 2018 literature review on the mindfulness-physical activity connection determined that mindfulness can make people more likely to engage in physical activity, as being mindful enhances feelings of satisfaction, enjoyment, and motivation. This increases the likelihood of turning intention (to exercise or engage in physical activity) into actual behaviour. In other words, the more mindful you are, the likelier you are to exercise.
Mindfulness also makes you more likely to keep exercising. An article on mindfulness by fitness expert Brock Armstrong notes that greater mindfulness will get you more proactive about physical activity, which makes you more likely to appraise threats that can potentially derail your exercise regime. In doing so, you will be able to respond to these threats before they can impact your physical activity levels, thereby increasing the probability of exercise maintenance.
Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash
Mindfulness even lets you optimise your workouts. That’s because mindfulness promotes a greater mind-body connection, allowing you to focus on whatever you’re doing and the muscles you’re working. This increased focus will improve the quality of your every move, which will then improve the overall quality of your workouts. These improvements will lead to results (increased musculature, improved fitness), in turn leading to satisfaction and increased self-worth — feelings that will get you exercising more.
How to start being mindful
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash
In light of all this, now would be a good time to incorporate mindfulness into your lifestyle. And you can start by looking inward. Given how work can be so all-consuming, it’s always a good idea to step back, reassess your current situation and think of ways to improve it. Crucial to this process is to set goals — a tip recommended by lifestyle writer James Gonzales in his guide for work-from-home professionals. Doing so will keep you from being consumed by hectic days, and allow you to recalibrate the way you approach both your professional and personal life. You can, for instance, set self-improvement and self-care goals that will allow you to maximise whatever free time you get.
One goal you must set is to make time for self-care, which you can do by consulting the resources provided in our blog on Make Time for Self-Care. Another equally important goal to set is to be more mindful, which will lead you to exercising. These simple mindfulness exercises recommended by The Telegraph will get you started:
1. 2-minute breath meditation. You can do this exercise anytime you want. All you have to do is find a quiet place, sit comfortably, and close your eyes. Next, take several long, deep breaths, making sure to observe how each one affects you. Focus also on your thoughts and feelings and how they make you feel.
2. Walking meditation. While walking, observe intently the way your feet touch and leave the ground and how you shift your weight from one leg to another. Afterwards, focus on your environment, making sure to notice all the sights, sounds, and smells. Then enjoy every bit of the experience.
3. 20-minute wind-down. This exercise is a great way to end your day. Just sit or lie down comfortably, and then zone in on how every body part feels. Try to notice everything, from pain to tingling sensations and twitching. Start from your head, work all the way down to your toes and then back up again.
Before you know it you’ll be more mindful than ever, and by then you’ll need to take things up a notch. That’s the time you ought to give exercise a try, as you’ll be more likely to make the most out of it — and to keep at it too.”
Article written by Maggie Saunders exclusively for energisedperformance.com
Whatever you would love to achieve in your life, however big or small, pop us a message and let us chat about how we can support you make this happen, #unlockyourpotential
Kim and the Energised Team