Healthy Mind, Healthy Life
“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” The words of Mahatma Ghandi, an extraordinary man and a true exception to the limitations that seem to hold back most of the human race. Thankfully for the rest of us, it’s never too late to make some positive changes, so, in the spirit of Ghandi himself, we’ve had a think about ways in which we can keep our minds in tip-top health for the benefit of our lives as a whole. Here goes nothing… BY POLLY HUMPHRIS
Value your food, not your savings
Without naming names, did you know that a particularly popular fizzy drink contains at least six potentially very harmful chemical additives? Researching what you eat will highlight things like whether it contains toxic GMOs (genetically modified organisms); whether the eggs you eat are laid by hens cruelly kept in tiny cages; whether the meat you’re buying is factory farmed and treated with hormones or antibiotics; and whether the vegetables you’re eating have been picked by someone paid a pittance – all of which should be avoided to clear your conscience and set your mind free of unnecessary guilt. We’re not suggesting you splurge and be frivolous; buying big name brands or suddenly developing a penchant for white truffles, but while buying whole, local food will likely dent your wallet a little more, the overall benefits you’ll receive from it will far outweigh how much you paid for it and you’ll be supporting local, hardworking farmers in the process.
Regular exercise isn’t just a brilliant way for you personally to get a free hit of happy hormone, endorphin, it’s also undeniably good for your health, which in turn means less trips to the doctor and less strain on our already stretched NHS. Plus, we live in a society where (whether consciously or not) we are constantly comparing ourselves to others – with fitness, your only competition is yourself, so you’ll start to feel more confident and less concerned with the ins and outs of other people’s lives too.
Start small if you’re a beginner though. A great way to build your fitness confidence – and your capability – slowly and safely is to train for a 5K run; the NHS’s ‘Couch to 5K’ plan is a really comprehensive online guide to achieving that goal and you can view and download the training schedule at: www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx. If you’re not a runner, set a target to do a 30-minute exercise class two to three times a week, either at the gym, or online – www.fitnessblender.com is brilliant.
Measure your success
Not trying to come across all ‘motivational team-building day’ (*shudder*), but goal setting is a really effective way of working out whether you’re getting enough out of your work. First, write down all of your aims and aspirations, then go through them one by one making notes about how you can achieve them. Just the act of writing them down will focus your mind on what you really want to accomplish and how you can set about doing it. More focused you = more motivated you = happier you = happier everyone else around you.
Retrain for a different job
Retraining is a big step and one that most people quickly dismiss as impossible if they even dare to think about it, but according to research, between 20 and 40 per cent of people are unhappy in their jobs. Follow-up studies have reasoned that unhappiness at work can lead to stress, weight gain, a weaker immune system, relationship difficulties, insomnia and depression – all of which are a strain on you and a strain on your employer. The bottom line is if you really don’t like your job, it’s well worth getting some advice about other roles and companies that could benefit from your skill set.
Go a day without complaining
What with thoughtless memes and outright trolling, there’s a lot of ugliness that’s thrown at people by people that don’t even know said people these days. It’s not good, for anyone, so flip it and start upping your positivity quotient. OK, there might not be any tomatoes left in Tesco, the weather might be grey and dreary, or Monday morning might fast be approaching, but every time you complain, you’re heaping a big dollop of negative energy not just into your life, but into the world overall. Complaining breeds complaining, so before you start waxing lyrical about your peeves, stop and try to think of a way to solve the problem – there will be other tomatoes; you’re lucky to have a warm, dry home; and, Monday marks a fresh week full of fresh opportunities. If you can’t solve it, move on, it’ll free your mind of the stress.
Volunteering isn’t all about soup kitchens and helping the homeless these days, and although they’re fantastic ways to reach out to people who are less fortunate, working that closely with vulnerable people doesn’t suit everyone. If you’re handy with knitting and crochet, make warm clothing for mother and baby shelters; if you’re a professional, find a school that needs motivational speakers, or mentor a young person interested in your industry; if you’re an animal lover, donate a few hours of your time to a shelter…seek and you will find lots of opportunities to make a really significant difference to someone else’s life, which, in turn, will give you wonderful peace of mind.
It’s all very well being appalled at how badly the trains are running, or shocked that you’ve found out your favourite cosmetics are tested on animals, but in order to make change happen, you need to take positive action. When petitions that you support pop up on your social media feed, sign them; if you really feel the road outside your child’s school needs a lower speed limit, write to the council and your local MP; if you’re outraged by the government’s treatment of the refugee crisis, stage a march or mass meeting and call them out on it. Turn your mental complaints into tweets, Facebook posts, forums, letters and meetings in a measured and pro-active manner and you’ll find your voice and actions have the capacity to make a profound impact on the topics that niggle you.
Sounds simple. Is simple. You might think karma’s a load of airy-fairy nonsense, but thousands of years of philosophical thinking would disagree: what you put out into the world is what you get back. If someone irks you and you lose your rag, you’ll irk them and likely irk the person who they go on to tell; it’s a whole chain of unnecessary irking that can be stopped short if you take a step back and assess if the situation is really worth all the aggravation. Smiling at a stranger, carrying someone’s bags who’s clearly struggling, or being patient with the shopper in front of you who’s taking an age to pack their shopping are all small, simple acts of kindness; practice them whenever you can and you’ll think and feel better.