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Does exercise improve your mental health?
Mental health awareness is hugely important and it’s something we’ve talked about before. 
 
We know that the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on people’s mental health. Whilst awareness around this issue is the highest it’s ever been, women can sometimes be forgotten about. 
 
Lots of campaigns and charities are dedicated to men’s mental health. The work they do is vital and they’ve been instrumental in getting men to open up, talk about their feelings, and recognise the importance of mental health. 
 
But women’s mental health is equally important and will have taken an enormous hit during the pandemic. Even in a normal year in England, 1 in 5 women suffer from mental health problems, many of them linked to women’s health issues. 
 
We’re passionate about making sure everyone’s situation is recognised and opportunities are given to help people where they need it. 
 
Whatever your situation or the state of your mental health you may want to consider whether the last couple of years have had more of a personal impact than you think. 
 
Here’s some info about women’s mental health and the things you can do to improve it. 

The impact of Covid-19 on women’s mental health 

The global impact of Covid 19 cannot be understated. There is of course the death toll and the global uncertainty. But there’s also the impact on people’s mental health. 
 
Numerous studies have suggested that the general population will have experienced negative mental health outcomes as a result of the pandemic. 
 
This increase in mental health issues would appear to be due to a number of factors, including: 
 
Loneliness 
Stress 
Uncertainty 
Homeschooling children 
Job insecurity 
Having no space to relax 
An increase in domestic abuse 
 
These are all things that might not normally have been there and whilst the general awareness of these things is good, we often forget that women bear many of the burdens above. 
 
Over the course of the pandemic, we can see a bigger gender gap in deteriorating mental health between men and women. With women at 61% and men at 47%
 
A big cause of this is that when it comes to the home, a lot of women are looked to as the authority. When people have been spending so much time at home it’s no wonder that women would start to feel the pressure. 
 
For women with a lot of responsibility, including mothers, there is a lot of pressure to hide their own feelings and concerns in order to create a safer and more comfortable environment for others. However, this can lead to not confronting your mental state and feeling isolated. 
 
A great way to start impacting a positive change on your mental health would be to reach out to someone to talk about your feelings. 
 
Talking to someone can help to get all of your emotions out and make room in your mind, instead of it being crowded with all the things you have to do. This could be with a therapist or simply having a support network of friends. 
Chart showing mental health increase

What else is impacting women’s mental health today? 

It’s not just the pandemic that is causing women's mental health to deteriorate. There are a number of things to be aware of regardless. 
 
Family life stress 
Menopause 
Work 
Responsibilities 
Friendships 
Social media 
 
These are only a few things that might be contributing to low mental health. 
 
Something which a lot of people get wrong, through no fault of their own, is work-life balance. 
 
This is because we spend most of our lives at work and if you are not in a job that you feel valued in or happy in then it will have a dramatic impact on your mental health. It can also be easy to not have solid boundaries between work and home which impacts our ability to have good rest. 
 
To help combat this, you could talk to your boss about impacting change within your work culture, making sure you and your colleagues make time to focus on yourself. Change up your week so that notifications are turned off at certain times and other barriers are put in place to stop work interfering with your own time. Alternatively, it may be a sign you need to change jobs, if that’s possible. 
 
Being valued, doing something fulfilling and having good rest will all have a positive effect on your mental health. 

Has working from home impacted my mental health? 

Working from home has been hard for many women. This is due to a number of the things we mentioned above. 
 
If you are a mother, you’ve had to deal with homeschooling your children, comforting them in times of uncertainty (even when you are not sure about what is happening) and finding ways to keep them entertained when you need to be getting on with your day to day life. 
 
You’ve had no room to escape and take time off and it is mentally draining. 
 
Even if you are not a parent, living in lockdown has affected everyone. We’ve been stuck inside staring at the same 4 walls for what seems like an eternity. 
 
Sitting at home every day didn’t feel like a choice. But now we can go outside, meet our family and friends and get back into more of a normal routine. We have an opportunity to restore our mental health. 
 
Many people are going through the same thing and experiencing some degree of recovery from what has been a difficult time. 

How can I maintain good mental health? 

So what can you do? Self-care is such an important aspect of maintaining a healthy mental state. 
 
There are so many ways to experience self-care, from exercising, going on walks, relaxing, reading a book and doing things you love and bring you joy. 
 
Simple, everyday things like exercising and eating well often have an enormous impact. We’ve talked about the mental health benefits of sport and exercise in a previous post. We know it makes a difference. And it doesn’t matter if you’re not sporty either, pilates and meditation are amazing ways of centering yourself and changing your mental health. We wrote about Pilates here
 
Meditation is also a great tool to help you connect with yourself. It helps to connect you to your mind and clear all the stress away, even if it is for a couple of minutes, it is great for a chance to grow. You can meditate in so many different ways, a lot of people listen to music, watch a flame, sit in silence, sit in nature or just sit in their bedroom. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. 
 
Here at Sportsability, we care about women’s mental health and champion exercise as a way of combating mental illness. We also offer a few courses surrounding mental health. If it’s something you’re passionate about and want to help others deal with their mental health, then our Level 2 active IQ award in mental health awareness might be for you. 
 
We also offer an Active IQ level diploma in instructing Pilates mat work so if you want to try a new career path in Pilates, check this out
 
Image 1: Alexander Dummer Image 2: Darius Bashar 
 
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