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The pandemic has not made staying active easy, and for most of us curtailed our leisure-time activity — which is an important source of daily movement — including social and recreational activities, and even mundane daily activities.
Those activities not only provide needed exercise, but they contribute to our mental health and overall well-being. All areas that have suffered greatly during the pandemic.
But now that the restrictions are lifting, some of us are having a hard time getting back into the swing of things.
So what can you do?
Well, according to a new study, the answer is to mix things up!
Variety is the spice of life and the key to well-being
A study out of the University of Basel delved into what, if any impact, restricted movement patterns might have on wellbeing. And whether people who choose more varied activities in their daily life might fare better.
The results, which have now been published in the journal BMC Psychiatry, might be enough to get you believing in the old saying “variety is the spice of life” when it comes to the activities you choose that can benefit your mental health and well-being.
The research followed 106 participants, who were already living with mental disorders like depression. They completed surveys on their sense of wellbeing and allowed GPS data to be tracked. This allowed the team to look into whether every day, naturally chosen movement patterns can alter and improve mental health.
And after matching the movement data with the participants’ survey answers, the team came to one clear conclusion…
The more you do and the more varied the activity or movement, the greater your sense of well-being.
In other words, activity alone wasn’t enough to reduce mental health symptoms, but it was enough to feel happier with their lives as long as they mixed things up a bit instead of just doing the same old thing.
So instead of simply sitting around the house, they did better if they added in activities like some gardening, headed to the grocery store or just got out for a walk.
Have time to throw a visit to the park into your day too? Even better to boost your well-being.
Put simply, the more you can vary your activity, the better your wellbeing.
How to vary your daily routine and boost your well-being
The researchers point out that while the data was collected before the pandemic, the results are just as relevant (if not more so) now, considering that lockdowns resulted in monotonous behavior and activity — just the opposite of what their study found we need to have a healthier mood.
Now that we can, you’d think we’d all run out of our houses since the lockdowns have been eased. But it’s hard to jump into things with both feet after a year of this. Especially if you were already dealing with issues like anxiety or depression. But the longer you put it off, the harder it will be to boost your well-being back to where it should be.
Here are a few ideas:
- Go outside — Whenever possible, take breaks to the great outdoors to refresh yourself mentally and physically. Start with your backyard. Next, try venturing further on walks, up your street, around the block or to the track at the local school.
- Visit local outdoor farmer’s market, flea malls, craft fairs or festivals — This is the time of year they are opening up. Instead of seeing a trip to the grocery store as a chore, a visit to a farmer’s market can be both recreational and social if you’d like it to be. See what local craft fairs or festivals will be happening this spring in your area.
- Try different types of exercise on different days. Maybe Mondays are for light yoga and Wednesday for an aerobic dance routine. You can find a wide variety of workouts, including fitness levels, online.
- Use an app — Some apps, like Sessions, help you to set and track small, achievable goals for your activity levels and other habits that contribute to your mental and physical health.
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Activity is good: Varied activity is better – ScienceDaily