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Mental Wellness

Leon's message is straightforward — prolonged psychological stress is the enemy of our mental health, and physical movement is our best weapon to respond.

In his hugely popular TEDx talk, Leon explains the science at play and what you can do to improve your mental wellbeing.

Watch the full video below.

One of the best Ted talks by far


After being awarded an Honorary Doctorate, Leon has maintained a close working relationship with Sheffield Hallam University. Specifically, he is excited to be working on the flagship Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) project.

The AWRC is positioned to be the research hub for the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM). This ground-breaking 2012 Olympic Legacy project co-locates clinical services and physical activity facilities to help people with a medical need to exercise more easily. The project combines some of Sheffield’s world-class facilities including the English Institute of Sport, the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering and a university technical college specialising in health, sport and technology for 14-19 year olds.

Read the press release about the AWRC.

For research about the links between physical fitness and mental wellness, take a look at this paper from the University of Bristol: Evaluation of the causal effects between subjective wellbeing and cardiometabolic health: mendelian randomisation study.


Leon Explains below in his TEDx talk How to manage your mental health how important movement is to mental wellness.

What a hard hitting and amazing movement you are starting. Love it.
Download the FREE illustration of Leon's TEDx talk on how to manage your mental health.
Free Download


The World Health Organisation defines stress as a global epidemic. Being overwhelmed by stress seems to be the norm and many people feel as though they can’t do anything about it. Common strategies are failing to relieve stress and are often unhelpful like alcohol and excessively watching TV. Pushing through and being tough are also leading to more problems in the long run as stress often can lead into more serious issues. The rise in the use of medication to combat stress is concerning as that intervention is focussed on the symptoms not the causes of stress.

We can make better choices

Stress itself is both good and bad!

Eustress (good stress) is where stress is short overloads the system. There is time to recover and adapt. A simple example is lifting weights to increase strength.

Distress (bad stress) is where stress is constant. There is no chance to adapt and recover. An example here is prolonged psychological stress or consistent lack of sleep.

Physiology of stress

There is a clear link between physiology and emotions it’s certainly a two way street. We smile when we feel happy and if we were to smile then we would change to feeling happy. Changing our physiology changes our emotional state.

The sympathetic nervous system often referred to as fight or flight kicks in to protect us in a moment of stress. At this point, chemicals are released into our system to react to the danger. Once the danger has passed the parasympathetic nervous system, (often referred to as rest and digest) takes over to calm things down. This dance between sympathetic and parasympathetic can’t cope with today’s dangers of email and social media alerts. The system still reacts as if that danger was a lion. You are unlikely to be attacked by a lion today but the stress of our environment causes the same spikes in cortical and adrenaline. This can lead to a vicious cycle which poisons our bloodstream with unhealthily high levels of stress chemicals. These chemicals increase the risk of disease, weight gain, headaches and immune issues. From a mental wellbeing point of view we can experience mood swings, insomnia, low self esteem and a host of mental health problems.

Our performance drops under stress affecting our cognition and motor skills. Over the long term prolonged stress causes damage to the brain and has been inked with Parkinsons, Altzimers and Dementia.

There are many choices we can make to combat stress before it begins. We can prevent it from building up. We can disrupt it when it does build up and we can manage ourselves in a way to recover quickly after too.

There is a better way to beat stress than trying to think your way out of it...
Leon Taylor
TEDx talk
Download the FREE illustration of Leon's TEDx talk on how to manage your mental health.
Free Download


We all benefit from a simple plan. To help, here are Leon’s 5 simple steps to bear in mind when you’re thinking about how to manage your own mental wellbeing:

  • Find your movement
  • Get out of your head and on to a piece of paper
  • Breathe deeply
  • Do something for someone else
  • Smile and laugh often
BBC mental wellness featuring Leon Taylor

You can read the whole article on The BBC website:


Mental Health Helplines

Yound Minds

Heads Together

Move More Sheffield

For inspiration and some practical steps to getting moving in a safe, meaningful way, check out some of Leon's videos below:

...regular exercisers have a larger prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain which governs stress-management
Stanford Medical School
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