- Knowledge Hub
- Jan 14
- 4 mins read
How 5 Minutes of Daily Movement Can Enhance Mental and Physical Health
January is often a particularly difficult time of year for many people as the holiday season winds down and you now have the stress related to credit card bills, heading back to work and dealing with cold, dark winter days. Add in the restrictions, uncertainties and isolation related to Covid-19 and you have the perfect recipe for mental health concerns.
Why Is Mental Health Important
Mental health is important because of its impact on our thoughts, behaviours and emotions. Mental health is not a black or white issue as it is not simply a case of having either good or bad mental wellbeing. Mental health is a continuum that demonstrates a range from positive mental health to mental disorders and it is possible to fall along different areas of the continuum at any time. It is important to understand the terms related to mental health and mental disorders and how to recognize them in yourself and others. The Mental Health Continuum has many facets and you can complete a continuum self-check to see where your mental health may currently be.
The Relationship Between Mental Health and Physical Health
Understanding and recognizing symptoms of mental health problems in others and yourself can be a difficult thing to do. Unlike physical injuries, which often present with tangible and objective signs and symptoms, the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions can very often be difficult to detect or individuals may be keen on hiding their symptoms. In order to better understand how the above continuum would look like, the below model explains mental health using physical health examples.
Is it important to note the intervention strategies listed at the bottom of the continuum. The nature of mental health being a continuum means that your position along the spectrum does not have to remain static and you can improve your position with the appropriate intervention strategy. While you are flourishing (positive mental health), you can continue to experience this with proper self care techniques such as journaling, reaching out to friends and family or getting adequate rest. Meanwhile, if you are moving along the continuum to languishing habits, be aware you may need to involve more serious types of interventions such as counselling or emergency services.
There are platforms and resources that your place of work may offer such as LifeWorks, Not Myself Today or Green Shield Mental Health Programs. Please reach out to your manager or human resources department to find what is available to you through your workplace. If this is not an option for you, Canadian Mental Health Association has free programs such as BounceBack® and countless resources for a variety of conditions or situations.
How to Improve Mental Health with Physical Movement
When it comes to factors that affect our mental health, there are a variety of aspects that are out of our control. For example, the restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19 have been out of our control but have left many people isolated, without work or with accumulating debt which has the ability to negatively affect their mental health. Finding small ways to take back control on elements of your life can help move you closer towards positive mental health. Many aspects of our physical health and what we do with our bodies is something that can be within our control.
It has been shown that individuals who suffer from chronic pain are four times more likely to have poor mental health or even develop a mental health disorder. There are many examples of chronic pain such as carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome as well as headaches and extended bouts of neck or back pain. Many of these conditions can be addressed by introducing movement into your day and even as little as 5 minutes of activity can show signs of significant improvement. Adding five minutes of activity (stretching, exercises, mobility) several times throughout the day has the capabilities of boosting your mood, alertness and general wellbeing. You can also combine mindfulness exercises, like mindful walking, into your movement opportunities to further reduce stress and anxiety levels.
As well, many of the conditions listed above can be addressed by making small changes to your environment or how you interact with your environment. The MoveSafe® ‘Big 3’ consists of simple principles that help promote healthy postures and movement by using a Stable Base, Hinging at the Hips and Anchoring your Shoulders. Incorporating the ‘Big 3’ into your regular daily routines (brushing your teeth, loading the dishwasher or picking up a child) can help build strength and balance in your body instead of contributing to weaknesses that may be causing pain or discomfort.
Please note: If you are experiencing extended bouts of pain, please consult your physician.
End the Stigma of Mental Health
MoveSafe looks to change the culture of organizations and encourage people to have important conversations about how they move and position their bodies. We also believe that this culture change should apply to mental health. January 28th is Bell Let’s Talk day and they have made it their mission since 2010 to End the Stigma surrounding mental health. They have built a platform to promote open discussion about mental health and mental disorders. Join the conversation on January 28th and help support yourself, your friends and your family!
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