Hello, my name’s Steve and for nearly a year now I’ve been making regular videos on the subject of health and wellbeing for Hampshire Library Service’s brilliant social media accounts. In this little blog post I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned over that time, along with some of my favourite videos and the books that I used to make them.
Spending the last few months learning about health and wellbeing has really changed my perspective on how interconnected our minds and bodies are. For instance, our state of mind directly effects how motivated we are to look after ourselves physically and, in turn, our physical health directly affects our state of mind. I’ve also learned that even tiny parts of our everyday routine, like cooking, can have an important impact on our wellbeing. Not only are they an opportunity to live more healthily but, if we experiment a little with them, they can also be exciting and absorbing activities. I’ve found that regularly trying new recipes has given me a sense of achievement.
I really enjoyed making bruschetta out of stale bread and old garlic because, not only was it delicious, but it also gave me an opportunity to show that you can make something (reasonably) healthy out of things you just have lying around. Decreasing waste is always good and I think saving money by using up leftover is particularly helpful to people during these difficult times.
In terms of overall wellbeing, I found Men’s Health by Jim Pollard a useful and accessible guide to all aspects of keeping myself healthy, and a surprising amount of its information was equally relevant for all genders. For instance, if you have trouble motivating yourself to exercise then try to ‘nudge’ yourself into doing it by adopting little habits, like making sure any equipment you need is laid out and easily accessible to you before you go to bed. Its guide to the importance on getting a good night sleep is another good example.
Over the last few months I’ve read too many useful books on exercise to name. But one thing that all the best ones had in common was to stress how vital it is not to overdo things. Fitness is important, but hurting yourself is always detrimental to your wellbeing, both physically and mentally. It’s vital to stretch and warm up before you attempt any exercise, but flexibility is an often-overlooked part of our general health. Not only can it keep you limber, it can also build strength as well, particularly in activities like Yoga. Another fascinating aspect of health and wellbeing that we tend to overlook is our energetic health. This is something that is more focused on in the eastern medical tradition and is the subject of The Qigong Bible by Katherine Allen. Qigong is a form of ancient Chinese moving meditation which is focused on cultivating energy as well as increasing peace of mind and this book gives a very thorough and graspable introduction to it.
So, what have I learned about health and wellbeing over the course of 2020? And what overall piece of advice can I give you about looking after yourself? Well, overall, I think you need to make sure that the upkeep of your mind and body is as varied and interesting as possible. Having a sense of routine can help our state of mind while we’re all stuck in doors by making us feel in control, but it can also become monotonous if we’re not careful, which can make us feel low. Staying physically and mentally healthy should be fun! So, remember to spice things up: try a new recipe, a new form of exercise, different ways to relax. And, above all, keep reading.