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Physical fitness and mindful movement tips to enhance mental wellbeing at work

In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship and business leadership, the pressure to perform can be overwhelming.

Start-up founders and business leaders often find themselves grappling with high-stress levels, anxiety, burnout, and a range of mental health challenges.

Leadership can take a real toll on mental wellbeing.

However, there's a powerful antidote that's often overlooked in the quest for success: physical fitness and mindful movement.

Managers should encourage exercise breaks at work

The connection between exercise, stress reduction and improved focus at work is profound, and once you understand how to incorporate mindful movement and sustainable ongoing wellness practices into your daily routine, you’ll notice the tangible benefits and enhanced mental agility at work, which can be shared with your team for a happier healthier workforce.

Scientific research consistently underscores the benefits of exercise for mental health.

Regular physical activity releases endorphins, often referred to as feel-good hormones, which can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels.

Exercise also triggers the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth of new neurons and enhances cognitive function.

The line manager's role in mental wellbeing

In essence, exercise can act as a natural mood enhancer while improving mental agility.

How business leaders can get started

  1. Micro-break stretching: Incorporate short stretching routines throughout the day to alleviate muscle tension and increase blood flow to the brain. Simple stretches like neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, and seated spinal twists can be performed discreetly at your desk.

  2. Breathing exercises: Practice deep breathing techniques, such as the four-seven-eight method. Inhale for four counts, hold for seven and exhale for eight. This can calm your nervous system, reduce stress, and enhance focus.

  3. Hydration: Dehydration can have a huge impact on our mood and emotional resilience. Our brains need water to function properly, even mild dehydration can affect memory, concentration and reaction times. Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger, if hunger comes on quickly, it is likely you need to drink water rather than eat. Keep a bottle of water on your desk to serve as a reminder to drink throughout the day.

  4. Walking meetings: Whenever possible, opt for walking meetings. Moving your body while discussing business matters can stimulate creativity and enhance problem-solving abilities.

  5. Mindful lunch breaks: Make sure you take a lunch break. This benefits both you and your employees, as it gives them permission to do the same. Use this break as an opportunity to disconnect from work, eat mindfully, and engage in a brisk walk or quick workout. This can boost energy levels and productivity in the afternoon.

The silent privilege of wellbeing amid the cost of living crisis

In a world where stress and productivity concerns often dominate the workplace, it's essential to recognise the power of mindful movement and exercise.

By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you can unlock enhanced mental agility, reduce stress, and perform at your peak, both as a leader and as an individual.

Jenny Devonshire, founder of Pause2Perform