7 ways that movement can help improve the the mental health of our young people
September 25, 2020
Young couple running on bridge

BLOG – CHARLIE GREEN FROM SUFFOLK MIND

 

Parents and carers have been juggling so many additional responsibilities since the COVID-19 lockdown began and the challenges are as varied and diverse as you can imagine.

‘Everyone is in the same storm, but we are all in different boats’

One challenge that does unite us strongly, however, is the desire to ensure the wellbeing of our young people whose lives have been turned upside down by COVID-19.

Although we have spoken to some families who report that lockdown has actually improved the wellbeing for their young people for various reasons, for many young people the experience has generated feelings of anxiety; (worry about the future) isolation; (lack of connection), overwhelm (feeling unable to cope) and lethargy (lack of motivation and purpose).

One of the key things that has decreased significantly during lockdown for many young people, is all the movement and physical activity that had previously been a part of their day. Walking/biking to school, moving around the school during the day, PE lessons, sports, being outdoors, hanging out and playing with friends in the evenings and weekends.

What we know has increased for many in its place is ‘screen time’ – in lockdown screens have been used heavily for education, for connection and for entertainment.

Research shows that physical activity and movement, in all its different forms, is at the centre of good mental and physical health for young people and as lockdown eases it’s important to help them find the motivation to move in enjoyable ways so it becomes part of their daily lives.

Here are 7 good reasons to motivate and encourage young people in your lives to move more. Talk these through with them and help them make the connections of all the ways movement can help them feel better

1. Better sleep
Studies show that physical activity can help your sleep in 3 ways: by increasing sleep
duration, decreasing the time it takes to fall asleep and giving you a better quality of sleep.

2. Create a natural high
Increasing how much you move each day can improve your mental health and mood. That’s because moving your body increases your heart rate and circulation and also helps burn off the ‘toxic stress cocktail’ of adrenaline and cortisol so you can enjoy the release of endorphins, which are your happy hormones.

3. Manage stress, anxiety or racing/upsetting thoughts
As well as getting rid of the toxic cocktail of stress hormones, being physically active
also gives your brain something to focus on and can be a positive coping strategy for
difficult times. “When your body is busy, your mind isn’t”.

4. Reduce the risk of depression
Studies have shown that moving your body regularly can reduce the likelihood of experiencing a period of low mood or depression and also help you recover if you are
feeling low or depressed.

5. Increase confidence, self-belief & self-esteem
Developing a regular routine of any kind of physical activity will increase self-belief, which then increases self-esteem and overall confidence. It builds in 3 different ways – building trust in yourself for committing to the activity, feeling proud of yourself for doing the activity and riding the wave of achievement once it’s complete.

6. More time to relax, reflect and daydream
For our brains to be well – relaxed, focused and able to make good decisions – we need some privacy each day where we can step back from people and technology to be able to relax, reflect and daydream. Getting out the house and moving is a great way to get privacy.

7. News ways to connect with people
We are social creatures and to create a life that works, we each need to feel connected to friends and family – finding physical activities you can do together is a great way to connect.

So now you know the reasons why physical activity can be the focus of how to feel better, you can find more information, tips and resources on this section of our website, and you can also request a printed handy-sized Z-Card or download it.

Keep Moving Suffolk!

Charlie Green
Senior Emotional Needs & Resources Trainer
Suffolk Mind

 

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