Exercise is great for our mental health and there are plenty of ways we can continue to do this, even in isolation.
What type of activity might work for me?
Being physically active tends to be easier if you choose an activity that you enjoy, and that fits into your daily life. If you force yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, you’re much less likely to keep it going and experience benefits to your mental health.
There are lots of different things you can try – not everybody will enjoy or feel comfortable doing all of these activities, so you may need to try a few before you find something you like. You may also find that different things work for you at different times, depending on how you’re feeling.
If you think you might find it hard to get going with any of these things, check out this link and read on.
Activities at home
- Try to sit less – if you spend lots of time sitting down, try to get up and move around a bit every hour. If you’re worried you might forget, you could set an alarm to remind yourself.
- Chair-based exercises – if you have mobility problems, a physical condition, or find it difficult spending time out of a chair, the NHS has activity routines you can try while sitting down.
- Play an active computer game – there are a few different gaming consoles you could try which involve actively moving your body while playing computer games.
- Do exercises or stretches at home – the NHS has lots of different routines – click here to try them – or you could try an exercise CD or DVD.
- Do an online activity programme – there are lots of free, online exercise regimes designed for you to try at home, including everything from chair-based exercises to yoga and cardio workouts.
- Do active household chores – like hoovering, tidying or DIY.
- Include more activity in your day-to-day routine – run up the stairs instead of walking, carry your bags of shopping in one at a time or do some gentle stretching while you’re watching TV.
- Dance – put on some music while you’re cooking and dance around your kitchen, or have a mini dance party. There are also lots of online dance classes including some of which are free. Check out these ones for kids.
Activities out and about
Now that we are able to have unlimited time to exercise outside, why not take the opportunity to get out and do more?
- Walk a bit more – just go a little bit further, be it round the park or to the end of the road and back.
- Play a game in the park – if you have someone to play with there are lots of games you can play that keep you safe and 2m apart. Try frisbee, tennis or kicking a ball.
- Exercising on a budget – be it indoors or outdoors there are lots of ways to try new things out and exercise without it costing money. Click here to find our more.
- Outdoors gyms – some local parks have free outdoors gym equipment you can use. You can try your local council website to find the location of any outdoor gyms near you.
- Cycling – whether riding for short or long distances check out Sustrans for lots of ideas to get you started.
- Gardening or seated gardening – the Carry on Gardening website has information about gardening for emotional wellbeing and with particular disabilities.
- Be active in nature – our information on nature and mental health click here.
Motivation and extra support
- Music – putting music or a podcast on your headphones can help distract, entertain or motivate you while you exercise.
- Online communities – you could check in with other people are who also trying to get more active on an online community, such as Mind’s community Elefriends. This can help you stay motivated and connect with others in a similar situation.
- Apps and programmes – check out the NHS’s Strength and Flex and Couch to 5K programmes. They give you step-by-step programmes and help keep you motivated.
If you’d like to read more about the link between exercise and mental health, please visit https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-08/tl-tlp080718.php
Please share your tips and advice with others on our social media channels.
Sleep and mental health are closely connected. Sleep problems are very common and even more common in people who misuse substances. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health.
How sleep affects mental health
Every 90 minutes, a normal sleeper cycles between two major categories of sleep — although the length of time spent in one or the other changes as sleep progresses.
During “quiet” sleep, a person progresses through four stages of increasingly deep sleep. Body temperature drops, muscles relax, and heart rate and breathing slow. The deepest stage of quiet sleep produces physiological changes that help boost immune system functioning.
The other sleep category, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, is the period when people dream. Body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing increase to levels measured when people are awake. Studies report that REM sleep enhances learning and memory, and contributes to emotional health — in complex ways.
Although scientists are still trying to tease apart all the mechanisms, they’ve discovered that sleep disruption — which affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, among other things — wreaks havoc in the brain, impairing thinking and emotional regulation.
Psychological effects of sleep deprivation
More than 70 types of sleep disorders exist. The most common problems are insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep), obstructive sleep apnea (disordered breathing that causes multiple awakenings), various movement syndromes (unpleasant sensations that prompt night fidgeting), and narcolepsy (extreme sleepiness or falling asleep suddenly during the day).
Type of sleep disorder, prevalence, and impact vary by psychiatric diagnosis. But the overlap between sleep disorders and various psychiatric problems is so great that researchers have long suspected both types of problems may have common biological roots.
Depression. Studies using different methods and populations estimate that 65% to 90% of adult patients with major depression, and about 90% of children with this disorder, experience some kind of sleep problem. Most patients with depression have insomnia, but about one in five suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
Insomnia and other sleep problems also increase the risk of developing depression. A longitudinal study of about 1,000 adults ages 21 to 30 enrolled in a Michigan health maintenance organization found that, compared with normal sleepers, those who reported a history of insomnia during an interview in 1989 were four times as likely to develop major depression by the time of a second interview three years later. And two longitudinal studies in young people — one involving 300 pairs of young twins, and another including 1,014 teenagers — found that sleep problems developed before major depression did.
Insomnia and other sleep problems affect outcomes for patients with depression. Studies report that depressed patients who continue to experience insomnia are less likely to respond to treatment than those without sleep problems. Even patients whose mood improves with antidepressant therapy are more at risk for a relapse of depression later on. Depressed patients who experience insomnia or other sleep disturbances are more likely to think about suicide and die by suicide than depressed patients who are able to sleep normally.
Bipolar disorder. Studies in different populations report that 69% to 99% of patients experience insomnia or report less need for sleep during a manic episode of bipolar disorder. In bipolar depression, however, studies report that 23% to 78% of patients sleep excessively (hypersomnia), while others may experience insomnia or restless sleep. Longitudinal studies suggest that insomnia and other sleep problems worsen before an episode of mania or bipolar depression, and lack of sleep can trigger mania. Sleep problems also adversely affect mood and contribute to relapse.
Anxiety disorders. Sleep problems affect more than 50% of adult patients with generalized anxiety disorder, are common in those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and may occur in panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias. They are also common in children and adolescents. One sleep laboratory study found that youngsters with an anxiety disorder took longer to fall asleep, and slept less deeply, when compared with a control group of healthy children. Insomnia may also be a risk factor for developing an anxiety disorder, but not as much as it is for major depression. In the longitudinal study of teenagers mentioned earlier, for example, sleep problems preceded anxiety disorders 27% of the time, while they preceded depression 69% of the time. But insomnia can worsen the symptoms of anxiety disorders or prevent recovery. Sleep disruptions in PTSD, for example, may contribute to a retention of negative emotional memories and prevent patients from benefiting from fear-extinguishing therapies.
ADHD. Various sleep problems affect 25% to 50% of children with ADHD. Typical problems include difficulty falling asleep, shorter sleep duration, and restless slumber. The symptoms of ADHD and sleeping difficulties overlap so much it may be difficult to tease them apart. Sleep-disordered breathing affects up to 25% of children with ADHD, and restless legs syndrome or periodic limb movement disorder, which also disrupt sleep, combined affect up to 36%. And children with these sleeping disorders may become hyperactive, inattentive, and emotionally unstable — even when they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.
Things that interfere with sleeping
- Medical problems, particularly pain and conditions affecting the bladder.
- Certain medicines can effect sleep.
- Emotional upset (bereavement) or depressions and anxiety.
- Stress, anxiety and worry.
- Bad sleeping environment (i.e. bed, room, noise).
- Changing your sleep routine.
- Taking naps during the day.
- Caffeine – especially tea, coffee and Red Bull.
- Stimulant drugs like cocaine, amphetamine and crystal meth.
Things that help sleeping
- Getting into a good sleep routine.
- Use your bed only for sleeping.
- Avoid any stimulating substances and activities.
- Do some exercise during the day.
A Good Sleep Routine
- Go to bed at roughly the same time every day.
- Start to wind down before getting into bed.
- Ensure your bed and room are comfortable and fit for sleep.
- Get into bed approximately 20 minutes before you want to fall asleep and start to relax – perhaps by reading or some other form of relaxation.
- Turn out light 5 minutes before you plan to fall asleep.
- Do not try to fall asleep. Try listening to soft music or attend to your breath.
- Do not think about complex or distressing things.
- If you can’t fall asleep after a reasonable period of time – get up and do something non-stimulatory like reading.
- Do not smoke or drink tea/coffee.
- Get up at the same time every morning. Even if it is tempting to sleep later – do not – as this will affect your getting to sleep at night.
My Sleep Plan
Things I can start doing to help me sleep (e.g. exercise)
Changes I need to make to my bedroom
Changes I need to make to my routine
I will go to bed at:
I will get up at:
For more information click Sleeping Problems Handout To Take Home.
Look how much you’ve already managed to adapt to. Look how resilient you’ve already been. There’s no ‘right’ way to respond to this because it’s never, ever happened before. Give yourself some credit.
Resources for children
Here are a number of resources that have been shared with us. We will add to this list throughout the coronavirus situation.
- SEND – Covid-19 advice for parents with young children
- Advice for parents helping children understand Covid-19
Mindup – Activities for children to do at home
- Cosmic Yoga Kids – website filled with activities and things to do whilst staying in
- Joe Wicks – Live daily P.E lessons starting at 9:00am
Here are a number of resources that have been shared with us, which could help to contribute to a greater health and mental well-being during lockdown.
- Good Thinking – A website for adults looking for resources to support their mental health and wellbeing
- Anna Freud – Advice for Parents and Guardians as well as schools dealing with school closures
- Young Minds – A website for young people on managing anxiety about the outbreak and self-isolating
- Harmonious Choir – The choir usually meets on Thursdays from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm on Zoom.
- Calm – A set of free meditation/mindfulness exercises
- Wanderlust – Online yoga and meditation platform
- Gym Mondo – Online gym
- Free Online Courses – Distract yourself by doing an online course and learning a new skill
- Westminster Library – Join the Westminster online library for free
- Artsy – Do a free online art class
What: Free 4-8 week art workshops including lunch
When: Monday’s. The programme will be running until April 2020
Who: Camden residents aged 18 and over who are suffering with a mental health problem
Find our more: Call 020 7241 8996 or visit Healthy Minds
Delivered in partnership with Mind in Camden
Starting university is a major life transition. It can be both exciting and overwhelming. Students must manage multiple academic and social pressures, and navigate developmental challenges as they transition to adulthood. Students today are also faced with unique concerns compared to students in the past. This includes the stress of unprecedented financial burden from student loans and increased tuition fees, and the potentially negative consequences on wellbeing of the use of digital technologies and social media.
Recent statistics reveal the extent of the student mental health crisis in the UK. In 2015/16, over 15,000 first-year students in UK universities reported that they had a mental health problem, compared to approximately 3,000 in 2006.6
This increase in disclosure is mirrored by a 94% of higher education institutions reporting an increase in demand for their counselling services. Despite the surge in those seeing help, there is contradictory evidence to suggest that there are many more students who do not seek treatment for mental health problems.
There are a range of implications of worsening mental health among students. Poor mental health has been associated with poorer academic outcomes, as students tend to be less able to effectively manage stress and pressure and, thus, their ability to perform given tasks productively is diminished.They may also be more likely to drop out; statistics highlight a 210% increase in university dropouts among students with mental health problems between 2009/10 and 2014/15.6 Of even greater concern is that student suicides have increased by 79% between 2007 to 2015.
The good news is that student mental health is being pushed higher up the government’s agenda. In 2018 the University Mental Health Charter was introduced and a working group to support students transitioning from school into university/college was formed. Whilst this package was promising the results to date show little impact and a more proactive approach needs to be taken at government, NHS and higher education level.
This includes universities adopting a whole-university approach to student mental health, which should be informed by best practice. Universities and higher education institutions should seek to implement currently available programmes to strengthen the current evidence base and identify what refinements are required.
Addressing mental health in students can have a positive effect on mental health in later life. By ensuring student mental health is treated as a societal concern, we can encourage early intervention and action.
By intervening early, at a critical transition point in young people’s lives, we can avoid the long-term risks associated with poor mental health, which can have far-reaching consequences for the next generation.
Suicide is preventable, not inevitable.
In 2017, in the UK and Ireland alone, over 6,000 people died of suicide. Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy.
We know that suicide is preventable, it’s not inevitable. But not being okay is still widely stigmatised. We work hard every day to address this and support all those impacted by mental health.
This year, on this day, we are announcing our latest service to support those impacted by suicide. Working in partnership with South West London Health and Care Partnership, we are announcing a dedicated service to support people bereaved by suicide. Our new Post Suicide Liaison Worker will work with a range of local services to better support family members. If you’d like to know more or apply for the role please contact [email protected]
Everything we say and do is rooted in the experiences of people who know what it’s like to live with a mental health problem. That includes the thousands of people who rely on our local services, our incredible supporters, fundraisers, volunteers, staff and trustees. Their experiences bring our work to life. We provide life-saving and life-changing services when people need it most. Read our annual review for an overview of key achievements this year:
Mind in Wandsworth held their bi-monthly Wellbeing day on the 1st August 2018. The theme of the day was “Connectivity”, bringing people together with workshops on art, horticulture, tai chi and eating together with a healthy and nutritious menu to enable and encourage individuals to learn about healthy eating choices.