stay active for a healthy headspace

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Staying active can improve your sleep, give you more energy and help manage stress - all helping you keep a healthy headspace.

Your mood when you move

We get it – when you’re feeling stressed or low you probably feel more like watching Netflix, YouTube or TikTok than being active. But it’s often when you least feel like it that you most need it.

You may know that exercise is good for your physical health, but it also improves your wellbeing, too!

Exercising doesn’t have to be running on the treadmill. It’s really anything that gets your body moving.

Activities like walking, playing sport, yoga, dancing or swimming will all help you release stress and give you a better chance of improving your mood.

There are so many benefits to staying active.

It can:

  • help you sleep better

  • improve your concentration

  • raise your energy levels

  • improve your confidence

  • boost your mood

  • release stress

  • lower anxiety.


Download our fact sheet on staying active for a healthy headspace

(PDF 746kb)

Ask an expert: How can I get started? 

Alex Parker is an Exercise and Mental Health Professor. Here are her tips to help you get active.

  • Start small. If you start by setting small goals you will be more likely to do them and this will help you feel more motivated.

  • Keep track. Monitor your progress and track the benefits after you exercise. This will help you see connections between how moving more helps you feel better.

  • Do what you enjoy. Whether you enjoy working hard, for short periods of time, or prefer swimming at the beach it will be a lot easier to stick to it if you're having fun!

  • Make the time (even when you’re busy). When you’re busy and stressed, staying active can be the first thing you stop. But being active during busy times will actually help you through tough periods.

  • Set a routine. Plan ahead and make physical activity a part of your routine. Things like having your workout gear ready the night before and setting an alarm can help you stick to your goals.

Interactive activity

‘I live with depression and anxiety and keeping active has been an absolute life saver for me. There is so much power in exercise, whether that be long walks, running, hiking, getting out on Country, going to the gym, dancing, or even cleaning up the backyard; whatever works best for you. For me, walking, running and lifting heavy weights at the gym are my go-to options.

Sometimes when things feel really busy in my brain, I like to exercise and visualise redirecting the blood flow from my brain powering my racing thoughts, to my legs and arms, powering my physical movement. This helps me 'shake it out' while I move. I find it really therapeutic, and it helps keep me calm and process what I'm feeling. It also really helps me focus on everything I can feel and control in that moment, when my mind is stuck in the past or racing into the future.’

- Rachael, headspace Youth National Reference Group Member

When you’re feeling low and stressed, it’s important to put healthy habits in place – to give yourself a better chance of coping with life’s challenges.

Staying active is one of the headspace healthy habits, but it’s not the only one. Things like sleepeating well, and spending time with people you love also play an important role in good mental health.

The headspace Clinical Reference Group oversee and approve clinical resources made available on this website.

Last reviewed 8 September 2021

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