Lockdown has given many people a chance to stop and consider their current health and whether they can make beneficial changes. Although many people will have been far too busy looking after the needs of others to have the chance to think about themselves. Hopefully in this period as society attempts to get back to normal, everyone will have the opportunity to consider if they can make changes in their life to improve their health.
How many of you have used the opportunity of ‘Lock Down” as a prolonged retreat to be based at home and do all of the things you’ve always promised yourself you would do and stop all the behaviours you have meant to stop?
Lockdown Type One – Have you increased how much exercise you take, monitored what you eat and drink and introduced new habits like juicing and fasting: eating only organic, locally grown, seasonal unpackaged food? Have you been getting to bed earlier and rising with the dawn chorus, doing some form of meditation, getting back in touch with friends and relatives? Having been able to do to raise your spirits by cultivating a positive state of mind and developing an attitude of gratitude? You may have spent more time outdoors, appreciating the reduction in air pollution and breathing deeply; enjoying being in the open air with members of your household…….
Lockdown Type Two – you may have been so busy with managing and adapting to the stress and pressures of the last months that to read about that hypothetical perfect person in Category One fills you with envy, guilt, frustration or sadness. There may have been no space for you in the midst of all this. It might be all you could do was to grab some food, grab some sleep, have a quick walk around the block, catch up with essential phone calls and household chores while in the background is always rolling worries about finances, health and relationships. You may have been continuing to hold down a job as well as home schooling your children; or experiencing what being furloughed means, applying for grants, funds and loans.
Every story and experience is unique
Most of the people I speak to and work with have been on a roller coaster between those two categories. Every story and experience has been individual and unique according to circumstances. We have had to dig deep to find the resources to manage to survive amongst the chaos and confusion. Everyone reading this needs to give themselves a huge pat on the back and a round of applause for simply coping.
Seven Principles of Health
As we move forward into what people are calling ‘the new normal’ we can use this lull and pause from daily life and decide to put our own health first. Take with you all of the new and positive attitudes, behaviours, thoughts, appreciations and insights. As much as possible leave behind what wasn’t helpful. In order to thrive through the next phase rather than just survive, we can have in place the 7 Principles of Health.
It is estimated that 85% of health problems are gut related so it is no surprise that number one on the list is food and drink. Simple guidelines on the basics of nutritional requirements must include reliable information on hydration, essential oils and dietary habits.
The benefits of exercise are many and varied, the heart and lungs become stronger, as does the musculoskeletal system. Exercise will also assist our digestion, reduce our stress levels and help to regulate our sleeping patterns.
The essential difference between exercise and mobility is that aerobic exercise strengthens the body systems while the movement of stretching keeps our joints mobile. Obviously, there is an overlap, but it is important to understand that the value of joint mobility is quite different from the benefits of cardiac fitness and good recovery rates.
Modern research has done much to dispel the long standing mystery of what happens when we sleep. Matthew Walker’s book, “Why We Sleep” is the culmination of twenty years of scientific research and provides us with enough evidence to understand that the quality of our sleep must be considered as an integral part of any health program.
5. STRESS MANAGEMENT
Stress is a broad term, but this definition gives us an appropriate context: “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” There is no doubt that this type of stress may lead to illness or dysfunction of some kind. The first step is to be aware of stress, and the next step is to have strategies for coping with it.
There are so many ways that our environments may affect our health. We have evolved for tens of thousands of years in natural environments but the rate of change since the Industrial Revolution has taken us away, so significantly, from our natural benchmarks. Sunlight and oxygen are both natural antibiotics. Vitamin D deficiency has been described as a modern day epidemic – sunlight is a great source of Vitamin D but we spend so much time indoors working or playing in artificial light.
This refers to the non-physical part of our make-up including our understanding of the human need for good self-esteem and what Maslow (Theory of motivation1942) refers to as affiliation or the need to be part of a social group. Another interpretation might be, being able to give and take love and affection comfortably.
Pay attention to the Seven Principles of Health outlined here, and your body and mind will thank you for it.
I have unashamedly and with his permission stolen from Charles Tisdall (Director Dacrelands Clinic) and his Seven Principles of Health for my offerings here.
Loads of other articles to read in the Summer edition of Lancaster District Magazine: