Monday, 13 May 2013

Lets get physical?

Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week 2013.

This years theme is 'lets get physical' - a debatable topic to say the very least. 
Personally, I think it was a risky move to make, especially in regard to certain mental health problems such as eating disorders, for the most part used to worsen an illness. Overall however, I do see exercise and keeping well completely essential towards a positive and healthy mindset.

The problem with that is, however, with a mental health problem, finding the willpower to exercise and get fit and well can be so difficult. Finding the energy to get out of bed to exercise at all with depression. Being terrified to go jogging/walking outside or venture to the gym because of anxiety. And exercise, of course, being wholly detrimental in large quantities to eating disorder sufferers, with sufferers tending to abuse exercise and in a lot of cases use it as a form of bulimic behaviour.

In those cases, of course, surrounding a theme of a mental health awareness week around exercise seems like a pretty ridiculous idea.

I wouldn't call myself someone who exercises on a regular basis whatsoever, although I do walk an awful lot everyday and will go to the gym when my boyfriend drags me! However, when I do exercise, especially now in recovery, I feel pretty damn good about it. I know that awful feeling of a mental health problem leaving me with the unwillingness to do anything at all, let alone get my trainers on and run for 20 minutes (and I know many others who will agree with me here!) Yet at the same time, I know people whose mental health problems have been saved by exercise, exercise providing them with a focus and a sense of structure, and actually aiding them towards recovery.

Getting 'physical' doesn't always mean going out and blasting out a 5k. It can mean going for a brisk walk on a sunlit evening. It can mean mindfulness, yoga, pilates. It can mean joining the family in a Just Dance war. It can mean actually participating in that PE lesson you've been too frightened to do (trust me, I wish I'd done PE now after not having done it for three years at school!). The idea of getting physical scares most people, but it doesn't have to be as intense as it first seems. Getting physical can be quite enjoyable, and rather fulfilling. 

This years theme is going to be taken in different ways by different people. Some people will believe that exercise is essential in contribution towards recovery, and some won't. Truth is, there's no right or wrong answer. I guess the message I'm getting is 'exercise IS great, but it's not that easy to find the motivation to, with mental health problems'. And I guess the Mental Health Foundation may not have thought this part through when compiling ideas for this years campaign, and that makes me sad. The thought was there, but it didn't seem to follow through so much, I suppose.
I do however believe in the importance of exercise and well being and appreciate the Mental Health Foundations work in this years campaign - do not want to make it seem as if I'm downgrading the campaign at all!

I'm just torn about the whole topic, really.

I guess getting physical can also include actively promoting mental health and mental health awareness week through all major blogging and social networking sites, hashtagging, stamping stigma, making videos, writing blogs, never stop being physical in raising awareness of mental health problems, because now more than ever, it really is time to talk about it.

I'm going to aim to write a blog post EVERY DAY this week. Send possible topics to me on Twitter @amoogle

:)

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