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Mental health and the sticking plaster culture

By Mark Nicoll | Jun 22, 2021

 

If you get a headache, you’ll probably take a paracetamol, drink plenty of water, the headache goes and life’s back to normal pretty quickly.

But what if this headache persists? 

You get concerned and want to know the cause of it so you can make it stop.

The above analogy is the same with mental health problems, though unlike a headache, they take time to manifest, need time to mature and come to the surface. 

Especially now people are working from home more, change for some can lead to increased anxiety. 

By this time, the issues are engrained, embedded in our heads and it’s tough to re-set to how we once were, or how we once perceived things.

So we obviously need to take a closer look at the root of the issue.

Let’s go back in time..

When we started the first iteration of Keep Fit Eat Fit in March 2018 our focus was on the millions of office workers who sat themselves behind a desk all day in an office or at home and only moved to take a leak or grab a sandwich from the canteen.

Yep, the dreaded sedentary time, it’s been written and talked about at length. But maybe it’s time to look again, this time from a different standpoint.

I don’t know about you, but if I am cooped up all day with no exercise I start to get cranky (as my long-suffering partner will testify!). 

But turn that into a week or a few months, and your body and its metabolism changes. 

The endorphins that swirl around your head that would usually make you happy and smile have ceased to reproduce, so now it’s harder to attack that workday with vim and gusto, and so the slow decline in positivity.

You then get an outlook that is fearful, anxiety sets in, and oh boy is it tough to come back from that.

I speak from experience. A bit of exercise and reflexology put me back together (the latter you can do to yourself with a bit of practice, or better still get your other half to help).

The dangers of sedentary behaviour

What sedentary behaviour essentially does is mess with your head.

Unless you move, as human beings were designed to do, you don’t get the blood flow or endorphin kick that your brain needs to remain happy or positive.

And your body’s functions cease to operate effectively.

Over time mental health issues will manifest; we are hunter gathers after all, programmed to be constantly on the move so we can eat, build a fire for warmth etc.

In a recent conversation with Professor Valerie Gladwell (our sports scientist who worked with us on our desk-based video exercises) on this subject, we discussed at length the merits of breaking up this “sat down” time.  There is a link to a video we produced with her on this topic here.

The obvious answer to most people would be a standing desk, but standing and sitting are both stationary actions (or inactions).

Valerie explained to us that when sitting for extended periods, our blood pools around our midriff and causes long term damage; arteries clog, fatty deposits start to occur around essential organs, triglyceride levels increase.

And when standing, the same thing happens around the calf muscles and in some cases causes varicose veins (a common complaint with hairdressers).

So is one of the root causes of many of these mental health issues when working from home or during lockdowns a lack of movement? It has certainly added to the pot.

We really need to encourage employees to get up and do a short 2-minute exercise every 30 minutes (they won’t even break into a sweat).

This goes a long way to ensuring that your employees are doing everything they can so as not to walk headlong into this cycle.

Poor mental health can in this way ultimately be borne out of plonking down and sitting at a desk for a whole day.

So to take from the headline, the flood of mental health apps are endemic of a sticky plaster culture. Looking at a small mobile phone screen for extended periods exacerbates the whole issue and causes anxiety.

Isn't it time to take an overall approach to health and wellbeing that looks at the problems in the round, so we can head off some of these issues before they happen, or are we still going to be swimming in band aids in a few years’ time?

Over to you…

Mark Nicoll

Mark Nicoll

I am a co-founder of Keep Fit Eat Fit and have a passion for visual communications as well as health, fitness and overall wellbeing. Having worked for lots of companies as well as myself, I know how important maintaining personal wellbeing is, and have a few pet subjects I will be writing about within our website.