Inspired by last night’s programme on the top 100 walks, today’s blog is about the power of walking. Before formal exercise became a thing (when people were too busy surviving, doing chores and the like by hand), walking was the way to ‘get some fresh air and exercise’ – two cure-alls, in my opinion. And now it seems to have become a way to ‘achieve’, by doing a massive number of steps every day. If that works for you, great – keep going! When I tried it, I found that I was being hounded by a machine to walk more (“Yes, I know I must walk, but I’m in a meeting and trotting around the room several times to boost my step count isn’t feasible!”), and to reach the zenith of life goals – the 10,000 step mark. So I gave that up and decided to walk when I felt like it, go where I enjoy and not worry too much about achieving.
Here’s a picture of one of my favourite walks, near my house. And I admit to feeling a little bit smug as I have booked this summer’s holiday to the Lake District, which has an inordinate amount of walks featured in the top 100. Not that I’m trying to over-achieve or anything…!
My plan for today’s blog feels particularly ironic, considering the gale blowing outside as I write it, having been woken up early by the noise… The modern world can feel loud: constant beeps, pings and other alerts, the chatter and the clatter, and the hum of electrical equipment. It’s why, for so many people, silence is the most sought-after experience. Even Jane Austen was said to have written: "Let us have the luxury of silence."
Here's a few ideas of how you might like to carve out some time to experience silence, every day.
• Try immersing in the stillness of an early morning, or late at night, with no one else around
• Aim to still your attention for a few minutes in the middle of your day
• Process your day and quiet your mind before bed, to aid sleep.
Of course, some might say that you don’t need actual silence to experience peace and quiet, and if that works for you, it’s an added bonus. Focusing on a quiet mind and a still body can manifest the benefits of actual silence, wherever you are, whenever you like.
This week's blog is about stretching - of the body and of the mind. Ooh, interesting!
If you exercise, you might know of the need to stretch out your muscles at the end of your workout. It's to help your muscles get back to their pre-exercise length, which should mean that you won't ache afterwards (a day or two later, perhaps). Stretching your body regularly throughout the day can ease any aches and pains too, and help your body feel better. It can help you breathe more easily too.
And what about your mind? Do you stretch it regularly? I don't mean by just doing the odd tricky puzzle or trying to get more than one correct answer on University Challenge... What about by questioning yourself more? If you challenge your opinions and values, you can gain clarity on all sorts of things, and be sure that you 'own' your ideas (and not regurgitate other people's).
How will you stretch your mind and body this week? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
As an occasional Twitter user, I’ve been following Gretchen Rubin, an author and general ponderer. She’s written a book called The Four Tendencies, which I think is brilliant. I wrote about her last year and thought her ideas were so poignant at this time of year that I would return to it, as a refresher or reminder. Here’s the original post, with the link to her online questionnaire.
Have you ever wondered why some people find it really easy to stick to plans, resolutions and habits? Or why some people declare they will do more exercise, eat/drink less and generally look after themselves more… and then give up after a few days? This has always puzzled me and I wasn’t quite sure what was so tricky about sticking to a healthy habit (yes, I live a simple, child-free existence!). Then I came across Gretchen Rubin, an author, whose latest research explained it. She writes about people’s habits and came up with the idea that we all fit broadly into four different tendencies. In a nutshell, it distinguishes how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a request from a partner) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution).
Our responses to expectations may sound slightly obscure, but it turns out to be very important.
· Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations
· Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense – essentially, they make all expectations into inner expectations
· Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
· Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
Knowing all this got me thinking about health-related habits and sticking to them: if, like me, you identify as an Upholder, forming habits and sticking to the plan is not difficult. Turns out Upholders are quite rare, so no wonder I was puzzled by other people’s behaviour. If you fancy finding out a bit more about yourself, have a go at the quiz http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3163256/Gretchen-Rubin-s-Quiz-The-Four-Tendencies-Fall2016. Fascinating!
Happy New Year!
Have you made any resolutions or anything similar? I prefer the word ‘pledge’ to resolution (which just sounds too onerous and foreboding). And my pledge for 2018 is ‘Be bothered’. I seem to spend quite a bit of time claiming that I can’t be bothered – to do things, to go places, to be a certain way, and I want that to change. So I’m getting rid of the ‘meh’ attitude and replacing it with a ‘can and will do’ attitude. I intend to succeed and expect to enjoy my new attitude! Anyone with me?
Either way, I wish you all the very best for 2018.
Hi, I'm Joanna from Clean Well-Being.
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