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Mental health exercises you can do every day

Small actions to support mental health - even when we're at our desks

10th of October is World Mental Health Day, and while mental health is something that affects us every day, it's a good moment to reflect upon ways to support our own mental wellbeing with small daily actions. Here are some of our favourite spa recommended actions - some of which you can even do at your desk!

The conversation around mental health has changed immensely over the last decade. While talking about it goes a long way to helping us manage it and speak up when we're struggling, what actions can we take to look after it on a daily basis?

mental health

Celebrities are far more open about their spectrum of mental health problems, and businesses are beginning to recognise mental as well as physical health as a vital part of employee wellbeing that cannot be ignored or taken for granted.

The term ‘mental health’ covers a vast and varied spectrum of things, some of which diminutive names like ‘stress’ that do little to convey the seriousness with which they can take hold. It's such a little word for such a potentially damaging feeling.

Other mental health problems have been chronically misunderstood historically, but hopefully we are moving towards a more compassionate society that’s better equipped to support rather than discriminate.

“Maybe we all have darkness inside of us and some of us are better at dealing with it than others.” ― Author Jasmine Warga, My Heart and Other Black Holes

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Mental health stats

  • In 2015, mental-health-related issues were found to lead to approximately 17.6 million days’ sick leave, or 12.7% of the total sick days taken in the UK.
  • Research carried out by Oxford Economics suggested that 181,600 people cannot join the labour force because of their mental health problems.
  • It is estimated that the UK GDP in 2015 could have been over £25 billion higher than what it was if not for the economic consequences of mental health problems to both individuals and businesses.
  • Untreated mental health problems account for 13% of the total global burden of disease. It is projected that, by 2030, mental health problems (particularly depression) will be the leading cause of mortality and morbidity globally.

The bottom line is that we all have mental health, and looking after it isn’t something we can allocate to an hour a week. Like all aspects of our wellbeing, it’s something we need to pay attention to in an ongoing capacity.

There’s no quick fix, and nothing is a constant, as with so many things, we need to treat ourselves as a work in progress and sometimes we will get lost. However, there are things we can we do on a regular basis to help. Here are some of the spa recommended wellbeing practices and habits to help support mental wellbeing.

Stress relieving exercises you can do at your desk

Progressive muscle relaxation:

Stress can cause tension in the body and over time we get used to it and stop noticing, but it can lead to chronic aches and pains. If you slowly tense and release your muscles, one group at a time from your toes to your teeth, you’ll learn to let go… it’s the basic principle behind using a stress ball.


Take five minutes to go on a mental holiday when the real variety is out of reach. Close your eyes, go to your happy place, and try to get as many senses as possible on board… try it!

Deep breathing

An oldie but a goodie, deep breathing is such a powerful antidote to stress that The American Institute of Stress named it the best stress reduction technique… and if the smell of city fumes or your colleague’s tuna lunch is disrupting the mood then it’s a good excuse to carry a little bottle of essential oils with you to encourage that deep inhale and exhale with a little aromatherapy for good measure.

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Further ways to support your mental health

Regular exercise:

No one will find this a groundbreaking suggestion, but from gurus to the NHS, regular exercise is a powerful way to help clear your head, boost endorphins and maintain perspective.

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Meditation can take many forms - for some, exercise in itself is a form of meditation. In its traditional form though, one of its strengths is that you can do it any time, any place and for however long you’re able to.

Be mindful of what you eat

There is a lot of science that shows a well balanced diet can have a big impact on stress management. For example, B vitamins are fundamental to a healthy nervous system, while vitamin C helps to protect our cells from the damaging free radicals caused by stress. On the other hand, sugary snacks, cakes and biscuits can over stimulate the adrenal glands and cause stress and caffeine can also overstimulate the production of stress hormones and cause heart palpitations.

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Use aromatherapy

The essential oils used in your spa treatments aren’t just there because they are pleasant. Each one encourages a different response, but you don’t have to be in a treatment to reap the benefits. For example, rosemary is good for the memory and peppermint is good for brainstorming - so maybe keep a little bottle on hand just in case.

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Spa treatments

Complementary therapies are known for helping to manage and relieve stress on the mind and body for a variety of reasons. For example, reflexology is designed to stimulate the body’s self healing properties.

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