When I ran my old wellbeing club and wellbeing programs a couple of years back, I banged on about wellbeing exercises all the time.
My poor clients, haha! They never got a moment’s peace!!
And so, after all that time’s hiatus, wellbeing exercises are BACK, just in time for the winter blues to set in .
This post is a round-up of my top wellbeing exercises that you can do, on your own, when you need to.
Think of wellbeing exercises as your go-to friend when you’re mid-crisis. They work, and are easy to do.
Wellbeing exercises – the lowdown!
Whether it’s stress or anxiety building up or you’re burning the candle at both ends, these exercises will help you feel calm and in control.
If you ask me, mental wellbeing is THE most important topic because think about it.
When you’re mentally well, you’re more likely to look after your physical health, too – in a way that creates a strong, healthy body and mind.
Did you even know that your emotional health is directly related to your physical health? Read that again (before your phone pings one more time and distracts you.)
I’m more aware of this fact now since my husband had a near-fatal accident 3 months ago whilst diving into the sea.
Seeing the sudden change in his body (full paralysis as a result of the accident) to now, getting some movements back, little by little we’ve been working together on his daily routine, healthy eating, wellbeing exercises and keeping an elevated mood despite the immense challenges.
And it’s really working, speeding up his recovery miraculously.
So, to begin, my number one best wellbeing exercise is using the breath to calm the body.
Now I know (really I do) that many people are chronically stressed to the max from years of trauma or burnout that they say deep breathing doesn’t help them.
I get that.
But I also know that, like anything, feeling super stressed or anxious becomes a habit.
So you need to repeat, repeat, repeat something different to see any significant change – meaning you’ve gotta do something more than once!
Therefore, whoever you are reading this right now, start slow and start small. BUT, crucially, remain consistent.
One of the simplest wellbeing activities is slow breathing. You simply choose to slow the rate of your breath a little bit.
You can do this in several different ways. I personally breathe deeper for longer, taking a breath into my abdomen so I feel my tummy puff out.
I close my eyes and do this when sitting down, usually in the evening when the kiddies are in bed.
Another way to slow breath practice is to consciously tell yourself to ‘slow down’ whenever you feel stress building up, say while in the queue at the supermarket or something.
The ‘in breath’ can be a ‘slow’ and the out-breath a ‘down’. You repeat that in your mind as you breathe in and out.
Next we’re talking about habits.
To improve your energy levels and for all round health benefits, any form of regular exercise is going to help your mental health.
Maybe you love the idea of fitness classes but tell yourself you’ve got no time?
If that’s the case, switch on YouTube and do an exercise video! There are so many great exercise sessions on there which come with favorite songs a lot of the time.
So – ditch the excuses and get active. Or, if you have support at home who can watch your kids for an hour, pencil in your calendar to go to an exercise class.
Having an active lifestyle is key to handling mood swings and underlying health conditions such as mental health problems, cardiovascular disease, and many others.
You’re looking for moderate-intensity exercise, but don’t get crazy and hyper on this.
Again, start small and build up.
Maybe 5 minutes exercise for the first one, then a day or so later go for 5 min 10 seconds. You get the idea.
I’ve talked a lot about mindfulness over the years, and the older I get, the more I need it.
People of different ages benefit from Mindfulness.
It has positive effects on your body and life, helping release tension, get present and find meaning in the small things.
If practiced on a regular basis, Mindfulness is a great wellbeing activity.
A really simple practice that takes zero skill is to do what I call ‘mental noting’.
You simply sit or stand, and name in your head or out loud, every object you see.
The idea is to hold your focus while doing this, for around 2-3 minutes at a time.
You’ll decrease your stress response and activate the rest and relax system in the body, bringing on a sense of calm as you do.
As an added bonus you’ll likely lower your blood pressure too.
I speak from experience when I say that traumatic experiences benefit from being talked about, perhaps with a family member if available or even a therapist.
I as yet haven’t had therapy for the recent trauma of dragging my lifeless husband out of the sea and resuscitating him, but perhaps I will need it in future.
I would say that trauma is very personal, and so is the healing of it. For sure, wellbeing exercises are a lifeline in times of crisis.
Taking a holistic approach to any mental state is required, whether it’s a persistent low mood or a toxic positivity obsession (which is rapidly becoming very real in today’s superficial, online world).
When I was in Corsica the morning after my husband got airlifted for immediate neurosurgery, I focused on doing these things only:
- Getting on with everyday life (which meant feeding, dressing, and comforting our children as well as informing the family of the accident.)
- Increasing my heart rate through jogging in the evening.
- Tuning into the present moment and appreciating it. The most important thing was that my husband was alive.
- Eating healthy ish food and increasing my vitamin intake. I knew I’d have months of stress ahead, so no time like now to prepare.
- Avoiding social media because it annoyed the s*it out of me.
- Making whatever positive impact I could, whether that’s supporting my children, smiling to a stranger or spending hours in intensive care with my husband.
Remember, the best way to get anything, whether it’s getting healthier, fitter, mentally strong or whatever, is to start small and build up. Then keep doing the right things.
This is no race!
We are talking about life here, so take your time and go slow. It’s a good thing the slow movement is here to stay, huh?
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