Healthy body, healthy mind – be active, reduce stress & improve resilience

Most of us know that being active is good for us – the challenge is finding something you like to do and the time to do it. With the stresses of modern life, time plugged into screens and sedentary work on the rise, there’s a need to get moving both within the workplace and outside it. The good news about exercise is that it doesn’t have to take long, can be great for giving you ‘headspace’ and has proven benefits not only for your physical wellbeing, but for your mental wellbeing, cognition and effectiveness at work!

Stress & Mental Health

According to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, 12.5 million working days were lost due to work related stress, depression or anxiety over 12 months in 016/17[1]. Stress and mental health problems are the number one cause of long term absenteeism, and also result in disengagement at work and reduced employees’ ability to engage and work as a team.

The good news is that doing physical activity, sport and exercise is a low cost way to address these issues. Evidence shows that being physically active reduces stress. When you exercise, you release chemicals which can lift your mood and make you feel more relaxed. This can be accompanied by a positive and energising outlook.  Many studies show that regular exercise is associated with elevated mood and reduced risk of depression and cognitive decline. Exercise also gives you a sense of achievement and helps boost self-esteem and resilience. Sleep quality can be improved, which in turn will help concentration levels during working hours.  Developing physical skills, from light jogging to perfecting your golf swing, can also help you feel more confident.

Be active with friends

Through being active with friends, family or colleagues, you also get the benefit of developing relationships and networking with others. Along with being active, connecting with others is a key pillar of mental wellbeing which has been identified by the New Economics Foundation and the mental wellbeing charity Mind[2]. Exercising with others also helps you stick to it. Team physical activities and corporate challenges can be useful in boosting morale and interpersonal relationships. If you prefer to exercise alone, activity can provide much needed ‘headspace’, with as little as a 10 minute walk giving you the time and fresh air you need to make important decisions and stay mentally acute at work. It can be protected time which allows you to focus on yourself.

[1] http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/

[2] https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-yourself/five-ways-to-wellbeing/

Article by Claire Callaghan, Physiotherapist and Associate at Discover Your Bounce

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About The Author

Sharon Critchlow

Sharon Critchlow is a Wellbeing Advocate, speaker and facilitator at Discover Your Bounce for Business. Passionate about people being the best they can be she is a Time To Change Champion for mental health and holds a Masters level qualification in strategic coaching for performance. Sharon is a qualified accountant and has 20 years experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. www.discoveryourbounce.com www.time-to-change.org.uk