• Psychotherapist Zoe Aston explains the premise of her new book Your Mental Health Workout

  • The book aims to use the metaphor of a physical workout and help people apply this to their mental health, in simple, incremental ways

Your Mental Health Workout is a five-week programme to a healthier, happier mind. Having worked through my own mental health struggles, and being a therapist, I have both the personal and professional experience to be offering support and education to as many people who want it about mental health.

The metaphor of a ‘mental health workout’ helps each person who comes across it to understand the simple and yet effective ways we can look after our minds, making working on your mental health as accessible and acceptable as working on your physical health. There is never ending information and content out there about how to eat ‘right’ and how to physically exercise in order to reach a specific goal…but what about our minds?Your Mental Health Workout has been developed to fill this gap.

Within the programme we bust the stigma of what therapy looks like, aiming to make physical exercise effective for you mental health and working on creating equality and balance in our inner worlds that can impact our outer worlds in the same way.

The programme itself starts with a warm-up comprised of your psychological core stability (your self-esteem) and your range of emotion (your boundaries and vulnerability). Readers are then introduced to eight individual ‘workouts’ split into weekly and daily sections.

The weekly workouts are progressions of the warm-up exercises. They further target your core-stability (self-esteem) by encouraging you to take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and behaviours throughout. They create windows of opportunity by re-framing some of your day to day activities and they also create structure and containment through the practice of healthy self-care routines.

The daily workouts are programmed to energise and strengthen your relationship with yourself. Through slightly more introspective ‘workouts’ this section of the programme supports you in becoming more mindful, connected and aware of what’s going on in your inner world.

And of course, like any good workout, we finish with a cool down to ensure you keep the long-term benefits.

The programme as a whole is not always easy and modification and progressions are available to anyone at anytime. In the back of the book you’ll find a section called ‘Physio for your Feelings’ to help you with this.

Of course this step-by-step guide is not a completely new idea, CBT models have been doing it for decades. The difference is that Your Mental Health Workout uses a metaphor that makes it suitable for everyone. Those who have an identifiable issue such as depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, self-harm can use it as part of their recovery journey, and those who simply want to work on the health and integrity of their mind (particularly as mental health effects of Covid-19 become apparent) will absolutely keep the rewards.

Your Mental Health Workout can be done solo, in pairs or in groups and if you are seeking out a community of like-minded people who can support you on your journey, you can find them on the Instagram page @yourmentalhealthworkout.

The book is available to buy from 13th May and you can get free planners, checklists, worksheets and helpful newsletters by visiting www.yourmentalhealthworkout.com.

Zoe Aston is a psychotherapist and the author of Your Mental Health Workout

Further reading

Why does physical exercise improve mental health?

Challenging your thoughts: are they helpful?

5 self-care tips for highly sensitive people

Can therapy be fun?

What are the signs of low self-esteem?