Can exercise help with your grief and mental health?

Can exercise help with your grief and mental health?

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Have you ever thought about how exercise might help if you’re grieving? Could physical activity really help with grief? Angus, one of our Youth Team, found that exercise was an escape for him and really helped with his grief and mental health after his mum died while he was at university.

Researchers and scientists have conducted a number of studies to prove that physical activity has enormous potential to have a positive impact on our mood and our mental health, so why not on our grief too? No, it’s not going to magically cure your grief or bring your person back – of course! However, it may lift you up or even serve purely as a temporary distraction if you’re having a day where you’re not feeling so great.

If you’re reading this thinking, ‘I don’t even feel like getting out of bed… reading this isn’t going to make me exercise’, we feel you. You don’t have to get up early and out of the house to run a marathon or even a 5k, you can start with something much more simple. What about taking a walk around the block? Or doing some stretches? You could even stretch whilst lying in your bed if that’s what you feel would suit you best! If it could help to motivate you, maybe you’d like to set a goal to work towards… but don’t put pressure on yourself if you think that could make things worse and stress you out.


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One of our Youth Team, Angus, found exercise was an escape for him after his mum died while he was at university. Running is Angus’s thing, and he spoke to us following his Saturday morning run:

“I just finished my Park Run on Saturday morning. Really didn’t want to do it today, but I feel good now I’m here. Always feel good after I’ve done it to be honest.”

“Exercise has always been really therapeutic for me, and I found that even more the case when I was grieving. It’s something that I’ve always recommended to people who are going through grief just to sort of try and exercise and see how it makes you feel.”

“It might not be for everyone, but I think it’s really worth trying… And it doesn’t have to be a big 5k or anything like that, it can just be a walk in the park, or a cycle, or stretching, like some yoga or something.”

“I just think, give yourself an opportunity to try and exercise, and see how it makes you feel!”

So, if you feel up to it, why not give it a go? Start by trying one of these: take a walk, stretch out, or follow along a YouTube tutorial for yoga or something similar.

How to get help

If you’re looking for grief support, you can call us on 08088 020 021 from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday.

We have a live chat feature on our website from 3-8pm Monday to Friday.

Or you can email us on ask@winstonswish.org at any time of day or night and we’ll get back to you within working hours to let you know how we can support you to suit your needs. Find out more on our Get Support page.

If you need urgent support in a crisis, you can contact the 24/7 Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger by texting WW to 85258.