Archives For Health and wellbeing

Appreciating who you are cannot be done in the time it takes you to read this post. I have included in these posts (and the book) some of the key things I have discovered in my life to date.  This is the result of my age, having lived in three different countries and my experience of three career paths including the study of psychology, sociology and counselling.  So it is an accumulation of my experience so far and undoubtedly part of my life’s journey.

Journey copy

What has your life journey been like so far and have you begun to make sense of it?  Is it all ahead of you or all behind you?  How does that affect your day-to-day choices?  For me I am grateful to my past and hopeful about my future whilst feeling that my current opportunities are good enough.  It is up to me to make the best of what is available to me rather than focusing on what is imperfect.  (Imperfection is part of the human condition and provides us all with opportunities to be vulnerable).  I certainly feel that I am now on my individual life journey even though I don’t know what happens next.  Do you have a sense of having a past, present and future?

The sense of life being a journey can help us gain perspective.  If we use the metaphor of travel then we can appreciate that sometimes we will like the scenery and other times we really want to get out of town.  Some paths are easy to walk through and others require us to accept assistance.  We may see others on our journey who appear to be having an easier or more difficult time.  Making comparisons can be a distraction to keeping on our own path.  We may feel we are running a marathon or a short sprint, doing hurdles or mountain climbing!   Henry David Thoreau says that ‘what lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.’

What opportunities do our journeys present for us and for those we meet?  How do we cope with the difficulties and the privileges?  What do we protect and what can we share with others we meet on the way?  Maybe we can only appreciate a journey when we’ve got to the end and reflected on where we have been.  It may be that we have time at the end to do this or it may be that others do that for us.  It does not matter; our journey is ours and no one else’s.

How do you feel about your journey so far – share your thoughts

healthHealth is something we all desire, and maybe something we do not spend enough time thinking about until we have suffered ill health.  I feel everyone should be informed and encouraged to look after their health from a young age.  There is a lot being done across the world but many people continue to ignore their health and pretend they do not know what to do.

I despair at the exporting of unhealthy foods from the developed world to the developing.  I am sad when I visit the Caribbean and see people replacing healthy local produce for mass-produced low-grade food imports.  This is particularly true of sweets where the homemade coconut fudge or nutmeg jam is thrown aside for a coloured chemical combination that contains no identifiable foods.

Like our health, we do not always value what we have until it disappears.  Because of the global economic climate many of us have rediscovered the joys of locally produced and home-cooked meals.  This is not only cheaper but often healthier as well.

Health is not only about the state of our bodies but also about our mental health, which covers our mind and emotions.  Our emotions show us how we are responding to things in our life. With good mental health we can make space for the range of our emotions, from despair to joy. No emotion is bad, it’s how we express it, or not, that is meaningful.

Be aware of what you pay attention to and what you ignore.  Some of us can be quite obsessive about one aspect of our health, such as our diet, whilst another area is completely ignored.  Take time to review how you take care of the health of your whole self.  It does not matter where you start but the message is to get started.  This is not about self-absorption but supports you to live a full and vibrant life. It is also generous as it  means you are more likely to be around for the loved ones in your life.

How are you looking after your physical, mental and emotional health?

IMG_3481

In June 2012 several members of parliament from all parties engaged in a discussion on mental health. Many were very open about their personal experiences living with  challenges around mental health.

Today members approved a referral service and treatment fund of £25,000 per annum, enough to cover the equivalent of 1 counsellor. Referrals will be made by the already existing Parliamentary Safety Health and Wellbeing Service.

Mental health affects us all and it is good to see politicians in the House of Commons recognising their vulnerabilities. It takes courage to ask for help.

What do you think about this? Is there support in your workplace and are you able to ask for help?

 

I stood with one hand under my chin, arms folded and looking at my feet.  If you saw

me at a distance you’d think I was feeling miserable.  The truth is I was enjoying the

sunshine and engrossed with the ladybird trying to climb up my shoes.  A grounded

moment in a busy day.

 

What we are thinking and feeling is not always obvious to those around us.  If our aim

is to deceive then that’s great but if we wish to deepen relationships and develop trust

then opening up is necessary.   We could be smiling or crying on the inside, who

knows?

 

What we see from the outside is

always a partial picture of the

truth, and even we may not fully

understand ourselves.

 

 

 

For myself I find it is very powerful to be really seen, even if feedback is sometimes

difficult to receive.  It is very exposing and moving to have someone give honest

feedback on how they experience us.   With my clients I offer my reflections gently.

 

If we are experienced differently from what we believe to be the truth then it is up to us

to explore this. How are we living or being that gives them that impression?  Is there a

conspiracy or is there some truth in how others experience you?

I would love to have your responses.

I’ve noticed impatience creeping in in several areas and I wonder what that says about us.  As a counsellor I need to be patient with my clients as developing trust or bringing about healing takes time – there is no cheat.

 

3 examples of our struggle with waiting:

 

  • I enjoy listening to review shows and am pleased that they do give notice if they are about to reveal too much by signalling “spoiler alert”.  Last week I was listening to a very reputable review show podcast where John Hamm of Mad Men was being interviewed.  The whole point seemed to be to guess as much of the future of the show as possible.  By the end of the interview I knew how many series might be ahead and what the ending screen shot might be.  Try as I might I can’t now get this image out of my head.  It was totally unnecessary.  The interviewer was obviously not a fan and someone who had researched the series and probably feels they could write something similar.

 

  • Sometimes even if we don’t seek the information before hand we might get it anyway.  I am tired of hearing on the news that someone important is going to give a speech tomorrow and this is what will be said. When I have a vote to impact the future then let me know otherwise I can wait until tomorrow to find out.  More recently we had that with the budget.  (As it happened being given so much information beforehand meant that people were more alert to what had not been leaked).  It does raise the question as to when we engage with what is going on: before it happens based on expectation or after it happens based on reality?

 

  • My third example is the publication of the report looking into the causes of last summer’s riots.  I was surprised to hear on BBC’s Newsnight that the report’s authors would not be joining the discussion because of their anger that it had been leaked.  The panel was good enough but that did not seem to be the point. Here is a report that has taken so many months and effort to explore all the possible causes of a very unusual and sad incident and it’s been snatched out of those who did the work.  It’s like designing, making and packaging a most original gift and having a stranger break open the wrapping and rummaging inside. It is such a difficult exercise anyway because many people do not wish to know what caused it they just don’t want it to happen again.  We all have our preferred perspectives that blame individuals, families or society for problems.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could demonstrate delaying gratification rather than a ‘must have it now’ approach? I hope the report is given the attention it deserves by all of us and look forward to hearing from the people who carried out the research.

 

A recent award nominee shared how angry she was when someone asked about her acceptance speech.  She wanted to enjoy the glow and excitement of being nominated. I hope that more of us can develop an ability to wait and hold uncertainty.  What do you think? Do you always want to know what is coming up or would you like to be surprised when things happen?


As I get older I really appreciate the opportunity of a new year.  It gives me a chance to reflect on how I spend my time, looking back, looking forward and in the present.We do not need to feel overwhelmed by setting unreachable goals.

 

It could simply be an opportunity to change our direction slightly.  This could be as simple as being more adventurous or having more fun or keeping in touch with more friends.

 

If we’ve had a difficult year, then maybe just keeping going is achievement enough.

 

 

A new year can be a chance to reconnect to our heart’s desire for our life.

 

If you have not read it yet, my book An A-Z for your life is a good way to start exploring different aspects of who you are and what you want from life.

 

For 2012, I would like to keep many things as they are but there are a few things I’d like to change.

For me:

  • More writing
  • Less over thinking
  • More exercising
  • Less rushing around
  • More meditation/quiet time

Is there anything you would like to change?

Please leave your comments below to share your hopes for 2012.  Thanks

How I nourish my body

September 16, 2011

As counsellors we are sometimes accused of focusing too much on feelings but how we feel about our bodies influence how we take care of this precious gift.  I recently watched a documentary on wounded ex soldiers trekking to the North Pole and was reminded of what our bodies can do.  I discuss this in my book An A-Z for your life.

How do we nourish our bodies?  How do we decide what to eat and drink and what to say “no!” to?  For some it is all about taste.

A recent blend: kale and raspberries

You may eat the foods you were raised on, replicating recipes from your parents.  I do a bit of this but I now live in a different part of the world, in a different time and a different household.  Plus with increased indoor living, stress, technology, pollution, central heating and ageing my bodily needs must now be different.

How do I optimise what I feed my body?  Is it a combination of taste and heritage?  The health guidelines recommend 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, plenty of water and not too much alcohol, caffeine or fizzy drinks.  My diet is close to this but I have a few niggling health issues that have no medical solution.  I am convinced that fine-tuning what I eat and don’t eat is the answer.  Diets tend to be about slimming and I have never really dieted.

I have been thinking of making some changes to what I eat to see if it improves my health concerns.  Some months ago a friend loaned me a book about eating for your blood type and I find the arguments very convincing.  It seems to be scientific and by relating to specific blood types I can be sure that it takes my body chemistry into account.  This feels much safer than just choosing something that is in vogue but based on different body types, or genetic background than my own.  Apparently, our blood type go back further in our ancestry, and is a more useful key to our optimum diet than race or current environment.   Alongside this I’ve been reading up on green smoothies and raw food.  Incredibly these are compatible and imply some overall truth.

Having read the book on blood type I am very keen to try tweaking my diet towards the optimum for my blood type.  I don’t claim to understand all the science behind it but I do know that some foods are more easily digested than others.  I am not yet ready to give up meat but I do love fish and vegetables so these can be part of the majority of meals.  Probably the biggest difference is being able to be more specific about the fruits that are best for me, and those that are not as good.  A few of my favourites will be shelved whilst I try this out.  It’s my first attempt to follow some sort of diet and feels like a big commitment to trust my body’s nourishment to this approach.  A wide range of foods are included: – carb, veg, fruit, fish, greens, red wine – so this is not particularly difficult.  If I link my reading on green smoothies and raw living this is not so much a change of what is eaten but how it is prepared. What will be cooked, juiced or blended? It is less about menu and more about recipe.

As a holistic practitioner I am intrigued that it also targets the most suitable exercises for different blood types.  It suggests, for example, that those with blood type O would benefit from eating lots of meat and undertaking high energy exercises whilst for those with blood type A, being vegetarian and practicing gentler and more meditative exercises such as Tai Chi and Pilates are likely to be beneficial.

So how do you nourish your body?  We are all making these decisions everyday.  Does it depend on taste, family background, cost, convenience or public health information?