Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

13th to 19th May is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme this year is “Movement – Moving more for our mental health”.  One of the most important things you can do to help protect your mental health is regular movement. Moving more can increase your energy, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost your self-esteem. If you’d like to improve your mental health by moving more, read the tips below to help you get started.

Physical Exercise

Physical exercise can mean lots of different things. It doesn't have to be running a marathon or being a part of a large sports team. In fact, it’s really important to make sure you choose an activity that you feel comfortable and safe doing. This could be anything from swimming, walking around the block or completing household activities like hoovering or cleaning.

There is no one way to exercise; dancing to your favourite song can be as beneficial from a mental health perspective as lifting weights or swimming. It's about what you can manage.  The benefits of exercise include a lower resting heart rate and the release of endorphins, which have a positive impact on mood; so regular exercise can improve your mood and wellbeing. Exercise doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg or even necessarily use an arm or a leg! It's just about moving in the way that best suits you.

If you want to take this leap, you could try the free ‘couch to 5k’ app by the NHS, or, alternatively, the NHS has a list of free exercises for you to try out.  The Mix also have some good tips for getting fit alongside advice for those who may have ongoing health problems or limited mobility.

In this video, mental health campaigner Hope Virgo speaks about how she uses running as a form of self-care and gives advice regarding exercising healthily especially for those who may have or are recovering from an eating disorder.  Hope has also written a blog on her relationship with running  and how she now uses running in her self-care which you can read here.  Young Champion, Juliette, has also written a blog about how running helped manage her anxiety which you can read here.  


Dance is often thought of as a great way to change how you feel. Some people prefer to learn a specific form of dance, like ballet, tap or jazz. The benefits of this can be keeping fit, making new friends and connections, and moving together in time to music. It can also be reliable part of your week that you can look forward to.

Do remember, though, that because dance can be a form of artistic expression you don’t have to follow the rules or learn a specific type of dance – you can also just find a space to move (with or without music) in a way that feels natural or intuitive to you, whether alone in your bedroom or with a group of friends.

Dance therapists think that mental and emotional difficulties can be held in the body in the form of muscle tension and constrained movement patterns. Releasing those tensions can have a relieving effect for both the body and the mind.

In the following video, Khatak dancer, Meera Patel discusses how dance helps her mental wellbeing: 


Lots of people say that yoga has helped them with their mental health. On a physical level, there is evidence to suggest that it calms your nervous system, making you feel more relaxed and less anxious.

By doing yoga you are actively deciding to take care of your body, which may also help promote healthy eating and exercise habits, and improve your sense of self-worth. One of the big ideas behind self-care generally is the notion that you deserve that care, and you are worthy of the time and effort you spend on it, and yoga can help remind you of that.

Many of the moves, such as the Warrior pose, are uplifting and empowering, and could help to not only release knots or tension, but improve confidence. You can find information about yoga on the NHS website and try yoga out for free on YouTube.  

In the following video, Divergent Thinking lead a half hour sit down yoga session which was part of the Centre's Summer Pie 2020 event for #SelfcareSummer:


If you can, finding a sport that’s right for you can be a great way to get fresh air, keep fit or meet new people.

Playing sport can also help you sleep better, take your mind off any stress or anxiety, and release endorphins to improve your mood. You might find the idea a bit scary, and that’s perfectly okay – it’s normal not to be very ‘good’ at first! The important thing is not to put too much pressure on yourself.

Some people prefer playing with others, like on a football or basketball team, whilst others might find that playing an individual sport helps them the most, like tennis or swimming. Remember that, no matter what level of ability you’re at, you always deserve to participate in something you enjoy; good sports teams or facilities make things fully accessible for everyone.

‘I was really nervous to start playing softball, but everyone made me feel comfortable to join in. Sometimes you play well, sometimes you play badly – that’s just life! It’s the sense of achievement I get from it and the improved confidence that really matters.'

Prince Harry discusses mental health with some famous sports stars in the following: 

Find the Fun

However you choose to get moving, the best option is usually the one we enjoy the most. 

As we get older, we sometimes forget that movement can be fun!  Instead of thinking of exercise as a chore, remember how at primary school you found joy in movement. Fun and laughter alongside movement will increase your motivation and the psychological benefits. Our Wellbeing Festival today was a good example of how traditional games and activities can bring us lots of fun and happiness. We hope those of you that joined in the fun had a great time.

Play games like tag with family or friends, break up watching television or scrolling through your phone, with a bit of fun movement to give everyone an energy boost, or go for a picnic in the park and a game of rounders.

There are also online games and apps that can get you out and about – try the treasure hunt game Geocaching or maybe Pokémon Go.