Anatomically, the heart plays no role in human emotion. It can be affected by changes in our emotion or mental state as it can be by exercise. But what if we said the way we feel, the emotions we have and our mental state can all be positively impacted by exercise. 1 in 4 Australians will suffer from Anxiety in their lives and 1 in 5 will suffer from a mental health issue. As World Mental Health Day approaches, Wednesday 10th October, it is important to check in with your own mental health and the mental health of those around you. The focus of the day is to not only bring awareness to mental health but to also reduce the stigma that is so often associated with the ‘invisible illnesses’ that are Anxiety, Depression, Stress Disorders and many more. So often sufferers don’t know where to turn to (or feel comfortable turning to) for support and help when they need it most. Creating a safe and supportive environment is critical in generating a community that supports our mental health needs as much as we do our physical ones.
Exercise has been shown to significantly enhance mood, anxiety and the symptoms of depression. Regular exercise has been shown to improve serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in appetite, sleep & libido) levels and provides the exerciser with a greater sense of control, improve self-esteem, provide opportunity to shift focus from negative thoughts and with enough practice, allow for increased mindfulness time. Creating mindfulness has been shown to improve facets of your mental health and can be achieved during any component of exercise from tai chi to distance running. Regardless of energy or stress levels this is a variety of exercise supports that can assist each and every individual in the improvement of their mental health and it is extremely important that the planning and the undertaking of any positive plan of action be done in consultation with your health care team!
So not only this Wednesday but every day be mindful of the plight of those around you, provide a caring supportive and judgement free environment for those around you and remember that it’s ok to not be ok. If we can do these things then we will go a long way to making a life-changing impact on those around us and across our wider human condition.