It is Mental Health Awareness Week. Shout out to all the people struggling to get through each day. Shout out to all those who are not doing too badly at the moment but waiting for the Black Dog to reappear. Shout out to everyone fighting their own personal battles and who are keeping on keeping on. Shout out to everyone who has or is experiencing a mental health problem, you are not alone, and please do talk to someone, it doesn’t feel like it will right now but it really does help. If you really can't talk to anyone in real life, the Samaritans number is 116 123 (UK and ROI). It's free, and 24/7, 365 days a year.
A recent UK study found that 2 in 3 adults experience mental health problems. And then you have those who don’t admit to them to people. Yes there remains a stigma around admitting you have, or have had a mental health problem. We can help change this, by keeping on talking about mental health, keeping the conversation open, sharing information and demonstrating openness.
I am big on promoting hula hooping to help support mental health, simply because it helped me so much. However, any exercise, sport or physical activity is helpful. Not just hula hooping, anything from gardening, to climbing, to running or trampolining. I also found learning an instrument to be incredibly therapeutic and playing guitar or piano is always an instant escape for me..
I will go on to bang on about why I use hula hooping to help my mental health in a minute, but I just like to say that although exercise and good nutrition are important to mental health, there is nothing wrong with seeing the doctor and being prescribed anti-depressants. Many people don’t want to take them, or admit to it, but they are simply a way of regulating brain chemistry. They might not suit everyone but they can sometimes be a big help.
Hula hooping is my weapon of choice to combat mental health problems.
It lifts you, and makes you smile. You can become engrossed in the challenge of learning something new, from keeping it going around your waist to learning a gravity defying circus trick. You get a sense of reward and achievement from finally making progress or nailing something.
It raises your heart rate, improving blood flow and increasing the amount of oxygen getting to the brain. You use both sides of your brain and body at the same time, building new neural pathways and exercising the brain as well as your muscles. As you workout your brain Releases feel-good chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids) as well as reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression.
You can do it alone, but it can also allow for social interaction at hoop meets or classes while still within the protective circle of your hoop. You gain confidence from meeting the challenges of hooping, and using a positive activity to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy, which can help you avoid crutches such as alcohol, tobacco, unhealthy eating. Your self esteem will improve, along with body positivity.
I would love to hear what helps you improve your mental health. Please leave a comment, what is a help for you may help someone else as well.