Whether you enjoy reading or not there’s no denying that books are an excellent way to learn and expand our knowledge on an endless number of subjects. Even if you’re not a bookworm like myself so many books are now available as audio books as well as in hard copy, there really are no excuses not to benefit from their invaluable content. Many authors also have social media accounts and/or channels and even share their work through other mediums such as podcasts. One genre for which all of the above is certainly true is that of personal development/self-help. The self-help industry has experienced huge growth in the past few years and is now undeniably more popular and accessible than ever before. Both our mental and physical health can benefit greatly from books and for those who may not know where to start, this blog gives an introduction to two of my favourite personal development books, who they might be for and how they can help.
Whilst Winter, like all seasons, brings plenty of things to look forward to, many of us find that some aspects of these months affect us negatively. Dark mornings and evenings, colder temperatures and cravings for comfort aren’t always conducive to optimal physical and mental health. Some people even suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes referred to as winter depression. Other people may not suffer from the condition fully but may notice some of the symptoms discussed below having a negative effect on their everyday life. This blog highlights some of the ways this coming season can affect our health and wellbeing and discusses ways to help deal with these potential obstacles.
We all know what to do if we cut our finger, get a mild headache or any other minor physical ailment and we know the importance of getting treatment before a problem potentially becomes more serious. How many of us are treating our mental health the same way though? Just like with our physical health, minor issues can arise at any time or we may simply feel ourselves sliding down the spectrum of optimum mental health. We often recognise physical symptoms of feeling a bit ‘under the weather’ such as sleep disturbances, changes in our appetite, aches and pains, a reduced immune system or generally feeling a bit run down and realise the importance of remedying these before they lead to further issues. It’s important that we also learn to recognise changes in our mental health and emotional wellbeing and have a plan in place to manage them in the same way.
Whilst weight loss is undoubtedly one of the most common health and fitness goals, it is sometimes wrongly viewed as the key determinant of progress when trying to improve our exercise and nutrition habits. One of the most common questions personal trainers gets asked by people who have recently embarked on a new plan is ‘why haven’t I lost much weight?’ There are many possible reasons for this, including the fact that we all lose weight at different rates, you may be building muscle and you could be getting weighed at different times of the day or week and/or using different scales. These are just a few explanations, but the majority (if not all) of the personal trainers I know would urge their clients to explore other ways of measuring progress rather than the often soul-destroying focus of chasing a certain number on the scales. Embarking on a new healthy living plan should leave you feeling energised, proud and encouraged. If the scale is having the opposite effect, consider giving it a break for a while and focusing on other ways of measuring progress such as those below…
The terms ‘mindfulness’ and ‘meditation’ are often used interchangeably and have become somewhat ‘buzz words’ in the last few years. They are becoming increasingly recognised for their benefits within the field of mental health and are very popular due to their simplicity and accessibility. Anyone can practice mindfulness and meditation with no special equipment, training or guidance required but it’s always good to arm yourself with a few pointers when trying out a new skill and so if you’re interested in giving them a go or finding out what they can do for you, read on…
Regardless of how active we are, most of us are aware that there are guidelines as to how much physical activity we SHOULD be doing to support our optimum health, wellbeing and healthy weight maintenance. What we may not be aware of, however, is that guidelines change at different ages and stages of life. As young people, we are often educated at school on how to keep healthy and are required to take part in regular PE lessons and exercise. As adults we may have become more interested in certain sports and have found what we enjoy or we may exercise to protect ourselves from certain health conditions and weight gain. What happens to our physical activity levels as we enter our later years though? Many people find that their bodies can’t quite do the things they used to, or at least not with such ease. It’s true that there are certain physical and cognitive changes linked with the ageing process and that exercise can help to manage these, so what SHOULD we be doing to support healthy, active ageing?
What is a vision board and why should I try one? A vision board (or dream/goals board) is a collection of images, words, ideas or other items that represent our desires for our life and our future. It can include examples of things we’d like to have, be or do and can help to inspire and motivate us to work towards these dreams and goals in our everyday life. Vision boards can support the practice of visualisation as explained in the previous blog for those who prefer to see physical images rather than simply imagine them.
What is visualisation? In the context of this blog, visualisation describes the use of our imagination to form mental images of an event, situation or anything else that we desire. Visualisation can also be described as mental rehearsal, where we create images in our mind of us having, being or doing something that we want for ourselves in the future. Whilst on one level we may know it’s a mental trick, the mind and body react similarly whether something is real or imagined and so visualisation can have real physiological effects. You can see this in action for example when we remember something funny that happened long ago and can’t help but laugh, even though it’s not happening now and is just in our mind. Similarly, if you think of an amazing meal you once ate and imagine the smell, taste, texture and use all of your senses, you may start to salivate or even feel hungry. The body can react as if a situation or object is real simply from what goes on in our mind.
Whilst this last year has been difficult for most of us, many small businesses have been the hardest hit by constant lockdown restrictions. Although there are many stories of struggles and strife, this story is of one local business that has managed to adapt to everything thrown at it and truly thrive amidst the chaos. ‘Thriving’ for this company doesn’t just mean financially, but serving it’s local community in ways that have been more needed than ever whilst people have been more isolated than ever. This company has not only adapted operating procedures to allow it to continue serving customers with great quality products and friendly smiles, but it has cemented itself as a truly valuable part of the local community around Rossendale. This business has spent the last year helping to support NHS staff and other key workers as well as those in isolation and unable to see loved ones. It has now extended this work to support the mental health of groups of people in the local area. This is a story of 2 of my very favourite things – coffee and hope. This is the story of Ninja Coffee Company.
Do you take care of yourself as well as you do your loved ones? Do you think self-care is self-indulgent and/or you don’t have time for it? The truth is, we actually all NEED self-care to be able to function in our everyday lives and to be everything we want to be for everyone else. If you repeatedly neglect your self-care, your body and mind will be negatively affected and they’ll make sure you know it too! Try some (or all!) of the mini challenges below, maybe one a day, to up your self care game. Your mind, body and soul will thank you for it!