During Mental Health Awareness Week 2024, we’ve been speaking to some of our experts and presenters about this year’s theme – Movement. First up is Emer Pateman, a life coach and wellbeing expert who delivers sessions for us on a number of topics, including Imposter Syndrome and Healthy Eating.


This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health’. What do you think of this choice of theme?

EP: I love this choice of theme! Research has established that physical health and mental health are closely interconnected, but this is often not emphasised enough. Considering both physical and mental health is essential to developing a holistic approach to mental wellbeing, which has been and continues to be transformational for me.


SWW: How does movement / physical activity benefit your mental health? What are your physical health ‘go tos’?

EP: Physical activity helps me to get out of my head by focusing on my body, which slows down the mind chatter and helps me to experience the present; I find this alleviates stress and anxiety for me. When I’m feeling stuck, stressed or sad, seeking movement has become my automatic response. My physical health ‘go-to’s’ are running, swimming and yoga. I like the mix and each modality gives me something different. And of course I walk everywhere I possibly can. At work, a lunchtime walk improves my approach to the rest of the workday and prevents the 3pm slump which often leads to reaching for unhealthy snacks.


SWW: What advice would you give to those struggling with their mental health who don’t like the thought of physical activity / exercise as a means to help with those struggles?

EP: It’s understandable that physical activity might not be appealing to everyone, and that can then contribute to finding reasons not to. I think often we fall at the first hurdle because we set ourselves too big a goal, for example, running 5kms or spending an hour in the gym. That can feel like a real chore. If you find you are talking yourself out of it, or feel dread at getting started, then start small. Set a timer and commit to moving for just 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, give yourself full permission to stop. Chances are you might just set a second timer, but either way, small wins are important to celebrate. In addition, finding what works best for you is key, so explore different options and be patient with yourself in the process.


Finally, what ‘movement’ activities do you have planned for Mental Health Week Awareness Week 2024 / What have you done thus far?

EP: It just so happened that the week started on the last day of my holiday, so I started my day with a morning swim. Getting back to reality can be a difficult transition too though, and as I went straight to work from the airport I did 10 minutes of yoga when I got home to ground me once again. Day 2 involved a long post work walk with a good friend in nature (as featured in the picture at the top of this page!). 


Emer is running her Imposter Syndrome webinar on Thursday 23rd May at 7pm. Click here for more details. And to recognise her recent 42nd birthday, she is offering 42 free one off coaching sessions (45 minutes in length). Click this link to access her calendar and book your call. Please note, these sessions are offered by Emer independently.