Getting active for mental health

This week at our university was Mental Health and Wellbeing Week, a week-long programme of events and activities focused on mental health which aims to support, inspire and challenge the University community.

Did you know that 1 in 4 of us will struggle with our mental health each year? And even worse, many more of us will be affected by the stigma surrounding mental illness, especially since many of us struggle to talk about how we are feeling.

Let’s cut to the chase. The days are shorter, the nights are longer. It is inevitable that we feel tired earlier, want to sleep in later, maybe instead of doing school work or studying for exams… we end up wanting to stay in bed and watch our favorite TV show or find a new thrilling movie on Netflix. It happens to most of us, if not all of us, whether we like to admit it or not. In the end, we usually still succeed in going through the motions of attending class, passing exams or writing papers, and end up finishing off the semester. Yet, something still feels off: you’re still waking up late, feeling badly about it, staying up late, losing your ability to focus on school work, and the cycle goes on. It’s happened to me, and not only once but many times.

Working out to feel better

If you’re feeling like this, first and foremost, you’re NOT alone. What I do want to talk about, however, is how to alleviate these ‘down’ feelings and how exercise, in my opinion, really does help you feel better. What choice of exercise is up to you! It can be anything! Choose something that you have always wanted to do but never had the courage to do, or choose something that you think is fun and will take your mind off of school! There are so many options out there and all you have to do is set yourself to some routine. Once you follow the routine for a week or two, it becomes a habit, and you end up feeling bad if you do not go and do it!

Here are (5) potential exercise/workout ideas that might catch your eye!

(1) Indoor bouldering

Indoor bouldering at alien bloc

There are a number of gyms in Edinburgh that you can do this at! I personally would recommend alien bloc for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere. If you love to problem solve while working out this is the  exercise for you!

(2) Trail running

While we do not have many trail running trails in Edinburgh (other than Arthur’s Seat), you can train on the streets of the city during the week and then head out to the Pentlands or Glentress on the weekends for some fun trail runs. You can also find 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon trail run races throughout the year!

(3) CrossFit

If you’re looking for a full body workout and something to challenge you, this option is for you! There are a number of CrossFit gyms in Edinburgh that offer classes throughout the week. Some even have the first introductory class for free!

(4) Yoga

While this is not one of my favorite exercises (since I struggle with flexibility), many people enjoy it. It is known for strengthening focus, flexibility, and your core! You can find classes at Pleasance, as well as other local yoga studios.

(5) Kickboxing

If you’ve got a fighter mentality, then kickboxing might just be the exercise for you. You can find classes at Pleasance as well as some local kickboxing clubs. It is a sport that focuses on agility, cardio, movement, stamina and cardio.