Move Your Way to Mental Wellness: Embracing Movement for Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness week

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme is “Movement: Moving more for our mental health” resonates deeply. In a world where stress, anxiety, and depression are increasingly prevalent, the power of movement in nurturing mental well-being cannot be overstated.

For many, the concept of exercise may evoke images of intense gym sessions or exhausting runs. However, movement can be so many different activities, including something as joyful and expressive as dance, or simply doing a chair yoga. As someone who loves Middle Eastern dance, I can attest to its transformative power on both body and mind.

Middle Eastern dance, with its hypnotic rhythms and graceful movements, is more than physical exercise. It’s a form of self-expression, a way to connect with oneself and others, as well as the music. The act of dancing releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones that reduce stress and elevate mood. But beyond the biological effects, there’s something profoundly liberating about surrendering to the music and letting your body move freely.

Born in Istanbul, dance was always a natural part of my life, and I never missed an opportunity to dance. Years ago, I begin a journey to share my passion for Middle Eastern dance by starting to teach classes in London as a hobby after work. What began as a personal love affair with the dance soon blossomed into a community of lovely ladies united by a shared appreciation for movement and its mental health benefits. Week after week, we came together to sway our hips, twirl, and lose ourselves in the music. And amidst the laughter, fun and exercise, something magical happened – we found refuge from life’s pressures and emerged stronger, more resilient versions of ourselves.

The beauty of movement is that it is accessible to everyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or background. Whether it’s dancing, going for a walk in your neighbourhood, doing chair exercises while watching television, or putting on your favourite music and dancing around the living room – it all counts! The key is to find what brings you joy and makes you feel alive. Movement is not about strict routines or achieving a certain physical look; it is about nurturing your mental and emotional well-being.

As we observe Mental Health Awareness Week, let’s redefine our understanding of movement. Let’s celebrate all the various ways we can incorporate movement into our daily lives, from the simplest acts to the more structured exercises. Let’s prioritise our mental health by moving, which also will benefit our physical health – because when we move more, we not only strengthen our bodies but also nourish our souls.

So, this Mental Health Awareness Week, I invite you to join me in embracing movement as a powerful tool for mental wellness. Let’s dance, let’s walk, let’s move – for ourselves, for each other, and for a happier, healthier world.

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