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Resources, discussions and information produced by Charlotte Lattin - Level 5 Sports, Remedial and Holistic Massage and Soft Tissue Therapist, Movement Coach, Psychologist, Runner, Swimmer, Yoga practitioner, Lover of Outdoors, Mum to 4 children, Owner of a crazy dog (and a couple of other dogs) and fascinated by all things to do with how our bodies and minds work...
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This week we have some top tips for good mental health and balance. Exercise is fundamental in healthy body and mind but takes many forms, as well as being addictive in some cases so balance (and massage) are important to think about for those who are active and those who are less so. Which are you?
This week I got back into some work that I do for Oxfordshire Recovery College, which provides courses for those who have had or are suffering with mental health difficulties, as well as their carers and professionals that might want more information on a variety of topics. This is a fantastic charity and one you may hear more about if I carry out the next challenge of a dip in the river (or a mile swim) in aid of Restore, that charity that has set up the college.
Anyway, this led me to think more about the links between physical and mental health and how often these are forgotten about until the balance tips to crisis point. What is important about exercise and a healthy mind?
1) Any exercise is great as it gets you out of a place and gets the blood moving around - clearing both head and heart. It doesn't matter what you do: a gentle stroll, pogo stick or marathon get out there and give it a go - have a look at your mood before and after - you should notice an improvement.
2) Regular exercise is one of the best ways to treat anxiety and depression, whether this is yoga or running the meditative aspect can help to calm the breath and free the mind of negative thoughts. The regular routine can also help with this and can act to boost self-esteem and improve your physical shape.
3) Exercise outdoors - the outside world has also been shown to boost mood and release positive chemicals in the body, promoting good mental health. Don't let the rain bother you, think about what you can do in les nice weather (walk in a wood perhaps).
4) Exercise with a friend - working out with a friend (or even just a walk or swim) will work extra hard to boost mood. Having a friend to meet up with makes you more likely to get out the door - and also means that you get the socialisation which is shown to help with mood in a number of mental health conditions. Meet up with another mum if you're a new mother or go for a swim with a work colleague if you both share an interest. Can't think of a friend - join a local club - there are loads around (and you can change your mind if it doesn't suit).
5) Book yourself a massage as a treat for all your hard work (and to give yourself a break if you got over-enthusiastic and forgot to take a break from exercise - it can be addictive, resulting in more harm than good)
Benefits of massage for mental health (as well as the physical is that they also help to calm the body's 'fight or flight' system or stimulate a sluggish and lethargic mood. And if you can't face to exercise bit then a massage is truly restorative as well - hopefully some of my holistic clients can back this up. (The sports clients might feel less relaxed but more able to keep up with their exercise and elevate mood this way!) I've got some lovely new Weleda Oils that I can use (and you can take some goodies home if you like them to keep that pampering up).
Looking after yourself is important - take the time to keep yourself balanced. We'll be thinking about this in terms of meditation and the role of this in massage and exercise in a few weeks.
Do feel free to add any comments and look out for the free stretches I am showing on my Facebook page every week - look up Charlotte Lattin Massage and press the like button. Last week was shoulders, this week we'll be looking at the legs, hips and feet.