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Moving more for our mental health

Mental Health Week 2024

This post draws upon Mental Health weeks’ theme of ‘moving more for our mental health’. It explores the link between the mind and body movement, highlighting the benefits of movement for children’s mental health. We also examine how movement and mindfulness can be combined for children’s overall well-being and the way Stix activities promote this.

Mental Health week, which commences today and continues until the 19th of May, is an annual event to create awareness, promote understanding and encourage people to prioritise their mental well-being. It is a time for communities to come together, support one another, and take collective action to create a society that prioritises their own and others mental well-being.

With 1 in 5 children struggling with their mental wellbeing in the UK, it is important that children’s mental health is brought into the forefront of this year’s mental health week. With 34% of children who are referred into NHS services not being accepted into treatment it is a crucial issue which must be prioritised.

In 2024, the theme of Mental Health week is ‘Moving more for our mental health’. Undeniably, the mind and body are holistically connected and whilst ones brain controls the body’s movement, the way in which you move can significantly affect the way you think and feel. When engaging in movement dopamine and other chemicals that contribute to happiness and pleasure are released in the prefrontal cortex - This region of the brain plays a crucial role in regulating intense emotions like depression.

Movement breaks are important for all children and they are a vital part of successful learning and positive emotional wellbeing. The stimulation through movement can help children build good habits that will follow them into adulthood. Research indicates that even as little as thirty minutes of daily exercise or movement significantly enhances focus and emotional wellbeing, particularly in children with ADHD. Encouragingly, the department of education has recognised this and recently pledged £30 million to opening up school sport facilities as part of their commitment to mental health and wellbeing in schools.

Movement is beneficial for children’s mental health in numerous ways:

  • Stress reduction: Physical activity can help reduce stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in the body, leading to a calmer and more relaxed state of mind.

  • Improved mood: Movement triggers the release of endorphins, which act as natural mood and happiness boosters.

  • Enhanced Cognitive Function: Movement and physical activity can contribute to a better academic performance and overall cognitive development in children.

  • Social Interaction: Many physical activities involve teamwork and social interaction, providing children with opportunities to build friendships and feel sense of belonging.

  • Better sleep: Activity can help regulate sleep patterns and a well-rested child is more likely to be alert, focused and emotionally balanced during the day.

Movement and mindfulness

Meditative movement has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms and anxiety. This is the kind of movement in which you pay close attention to your bodily sensations, position in space, and gut feelings as you move. Some examples of these kinds of movements are Tai Chi and Yoga. Changing ones posture, breathing and rhythm can all change your brain - reducing stress, depression and anxiety.

Stix promotes these movement for mindfulness activities in children. Examples of how activities promote movement for mindfulness include Balloon Arms, encouraging kids to move their arms up and down like a balloon that is inflating and deflating. This activity incorporates breathing instructions with movement, helping to create a mind-body connection.


Checking in with yourself

On top of connecting with your children this week, ensure you connect in with yourself too. We can often become so engrossed in supporting our children that we forget about our own mental health. Keeping up with this years theme of moving for your mental health, why not block out some me-time this week to focus on you. Go for a nature walk or book a yoga class with a friend - or if you get enough movement from the crazyness of being a parent, moving your eyes from side-to-side when reading a good book is all you need! 😉


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