There’s nothing wrong with thinking. Thinking can help us to process, rationalise and make sense of our lives. I would always encourage thinking before acting. But there is a line beyond which thinking too much can tip over into something quite counter-productive for our wellbeing and become a problem to solve in itself. Overthinking is an arduous and all-consuming task, there’s no doubt about it. It takes up all of your capacities and if left unchecked it can get in the way of your day to day functioning. But you don’t have to let your brain be the boss, and a great way to fight back against the paralysing effects of overthinking is to be active. That’s probably why being active is recognised as one of the five ways to wellbeing!
Being active helps our mental health by moving our thinking, but it also prompts our body to produce ‘feel-good’ chemicals that create our sense of wellbeing. That’s why regular physical activity is linked with lower rates of depression and anxiety. And it doesn’t have to be intense activity for us to feel the impact - activities such as walking can make us feel good and have the added benefits of getting us out into the world and increasing our chances of social interaction.
Take a walk
The outdoors is an adventure playground for the mind and body. A simple 10-minute walk at lunchtime can be a great way to energise your mind and break up the day. Frequently reminding yourself that the world is out there can also help to put problems into perspective. Try getting of the bus one stop earlier than usual and walking the last part of your journey; or use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.
Find exercise that’s fun.
Different people get a buzz from different types of exercise, so try some different ones out. Have a go at football, netball, hockey, dancing, jogging, walking, cycling, or - the list is endless! You might find team sports work for you, or you might like exercise you can do with friends, or perhaps you’d rather be on your own. Find the one you enjoy. If it’s fun, you’re much more likely to stick to it.
Dogs are good for you
They love you, they support you and they even take you out for walks. Spending an hour with a dog is a sure-fire way to get some exercise and make a friend too. You might be lucky enough to have a doggo of your own but if not you can probably acquire one from a family member or a neighbour and walking it for them could be a great way to GIVE - another one of the 5 ways to wellbeing
Take a class
There are a million ways to get active and doing it in a class is a nice way to double up being active with being sociable. It doesn’t have to be something intense like spinning either - try something adventurous like quidditch, roller derby or street dancing and you never know, you might even enjoy yourself!
Change your environment
Being active doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym or running a marathon. It can also mean taking physical action towards changing your environment. It’s surprising how moving your furniture round, or giving a tired room a lick of paint can help you to feel more positive about your life. And you’ll be doing something physical too! Win-win!
Similarly, if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, get out there and get planting. You’ll be surprised how rewarding it can be to nurture something and watch it grow. And before you know it, you’ll be getting exercise without even realising it.
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