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Boosting mental health with exercise

There is no denying that life as a heating and plumbing professional is physically demanding. But it can be taxing mentally too, with the pressures of running a successful business often meaning that self-care, and being kind to yourself, gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list. With this in mind it’s important that installers not only take time for themselves but also check in on others working within the trade to look after each other.

Psychologist Lauretta Wilson for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, Lauretta explains how increasing our activity levels can also boost our mental health.

Exercise has long been regarded as an effective stress buster, with just 30 minutes of exercise each day shown to reduce our chances of getting depression and anxiety by a half₁.

These impressive results are a result of our brain releasing endorphins, powerful ‘feel good’ hormones which are important when it comes to being kind to ourselves and others. In addition, exercise also help us to focus and clear our minds by creating a distraction from negative thoughts, as it forces us to concentrate on physical sensations instead.

The good news is that exercise doesn’t have to be high energy or impact to make a difference, so regardless of your current fitness levels we can all benefit from being more active.

Fitting exercise into an already busy schedule can be tricky, however, I’ve outlined some handy hints and tips which can help us all take advantage of the positive mental health boost that exercise can offer.

Break it down

Studies have found that when it comes to the impact on our health and mental wellbeing, there’s little difference between getting our 30 minutes of daily exercise in one go, or by breaking it down into bitesize chunks. While 30 minutes may seem like a lot, 10 minutes before work, or even waiting for the kettle to boil, and then another 10 minutes before dinner and bed soon add up. It can even be as simple as walking in the morning to collect the newspaper instead of picking it up while you’re out in the van.

There’s no ‘I’ in team

Exercise is often seen as a solitary activity, but while many off us may enjoy the ‘me time’, for some, working out as a team can make it even more enjoyable.

There are a number of online fitness channels available via YouTube and also virtual classes where you can join friends in a group workout session through a webcam - perfect if you’re competitive. And, what’s more, group exercise has also been shown to reduce levels of stress at a greater rate than individual exercise .

Do it on the job

With many installers also running their own businesses, fitting in the time to exercise on top of a very busy work schedule can be hard. But there are some small changes you can make which will soon add up. For example, when you’re on the phone speaking to a customer, can you combine it with a short walk? On a commercial job? Can you take the stairs over the lift, or even take a short walk at lunchtime instead of eating in the van? These little things all go a long way.

Not only is staying in shape important for mental wellbeing, but by increasing activity levels and making sure you’re in good physical shape, you also reduce your risk of injury and ensure that you’re in the best possible position to enjoy and long and successful career!

Box out – A moment of calm

Of course, there will be occasions when stresses mount and exercising isn’t an option. To help with clarity and to refocus, why not try square breathing?

Breathing in, holding, exhaling, and then holding again for counts of four can instantly help destress. Take a look at this video to find out how and even better, why not share it with someone else.

For further information on Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, please visit: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC474733/

2 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171030092917.htm