Glib wellbeing


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If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, here are some excellent sources of support and advice; if you’re still not sure, please speak with your GP:

No, “We’re in a pandemic dontcha know?” check-ins here: your wellbeing is as important now as it was 12-months ago, as it will be in 12-months time. Why is a collective traumatic experience a reasonable excuse to suddenly want to know “really” how people are? Shouldn’t we care about each other all the time?

To be honest, I’m pretty relaxed about other people’s approaches to wellbeing: ‘whatever floats your boat’ (provided no one else gets hurt) is my general rule of thumb.

I’m also pretty relaxed about my own approach to wellbeing.

Take this morning, for instance: I’ve been for a pre-breakfast 5k run, then eaten a bowl of berries, three slices of buttered toast, followed by the devouring of an Easter egg in front of Frozen (for the first time – more on that in another missive, I’m sure!).

Am I well? Yes thanks, but frankly, it’s none of your business.

How high is your moral high-ground?

I listened to a really excellent Ted Talk yesterday, “It’s OK to feel overwhelmed. Here’s what to do next” with Elizabeth Gilbert. It wasn’t an easy listen and was pretty uncomfortable at times.

Then I saw an interesting post from a friend who does an enormous amount of volunteering for homeless people locally. The post was about how ‘selfish’ people were being by wanting to go to a local DIY shop, waiting in a queue, socially distanced, for over an hour.

I filed the two things and went for a long run in the countryside this morning. I love a peaceful run alone in the morning air. It’s quality thinking (or not) time, where my feet and my brain head off together for a bit of TLC.

By the time I got home, I’d come up with the text that follows. What do you think?

For me, saving the NHS is a long-term position and I have a responsibility to myself and others to do whatever I can to retain it.

Immediately: observing social distancing; staying at home; washing my hands

Medium-term: caring for my mind (while observing the above)

Long-term: caring for my body (while observing the above); voting wisely in elections

The immediate responsibility is going well.
Without time outdoors in open spaces, I would suffer crippling bouts of depression and be a risk to myself (a medium-term cost to the NHS) and without exercising, I would increase my already genetic risk of diabetes (a long-term cost).
Who am I to say what other people *need* to do to keep themselves and their families well?

Moral high-grounds are wobbly, lonely and seem to be unfathomably judgemental. I’m hopping down for a bit.

Stop nagging…

My Dad’s great: intelligent, funny, kind and thoughtful; reliable, steady and an excellent listener.

Dad also takes most of what he reads with a healthy dose of cynicism. He refuses to believe everything at face value and is very careful to find secure sources.

When it comes to his health, however, he can be frustratingly unscientific. For instance, I can encourage Dad to exercise, explaining the benefits to his general health and that it might even be good for his various aches and pains; I can send him scientific papers about the benefits; I can show him examples of people who have benefited, but he refuses to believe it’s true (or certainly won’t act on it).

This article came with the very excellent Research Digest from the British Psychological Society. Now I know: he just doesn’t want to hear it!

When they’re ready…

Earlier on this spring, I planted some lavender seeds.

I cared for the seeds, photographed the pot every day to chart the journey from seed to blossoming bee-trap.

The seeds didn’t grow.

My infamously un-green fingers (sorry Nan) have let me down again… At this point, I usually give up, but not this time; all because of someone I met at the Barnes Fitness Woodley 10k last year…

I LOVE to be a tail-runner. That means volunteering to finish a race last. The tail (or sweeper) serves as a marker to the marshals so that they can stand down and can often find themselves supporting the final runner along the course, as the speed-dæmons disappear from view and the final kilometre feels like a 3-mile hill-climb.

Last year, I had the very great pleasure of helping a gardener to the finish. They admitted that they weren’t fully fit and were struggling. So, I found out what they’d be doing with the rest of their day and we talked about gardening.

They spoke so passionately about what they grew and we ate up the distance smiling and laughing. They told me that the best bit about gardening was not knowing what would grow and what wouldn’t. They said that it was ok if things didn’t grow, “It’s not time for them. When they’re ready, they grow.”

It made me  think about the runners I coach, the NQTs I’ve mentored and the people I’ve supported through various challenges.

Like the plants, they need some solid foundations and a suitable environment. Like the plants, they need nurturing. Like the plants, when they’re ready, they grow.

Simplicity in complexity

Blogs are pretty self-indulgent, aren’t they? As self-indulgences go, this one takes the biscuit…

Throughout my childhood, my very socialist and intellectual father had told me that bin-men (sic) saved more lives per year than doctors. Aged 15, I devoured Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series (books, radio plays, television series and all), in which Adams joked that the phone-sanitisers and the joggers (guffaw!) would be shipped off Golgafrincham for being useless. In 2001, as an undergraduate student of Archaeology, with a keen interest in the emergence of complex society, I finally pieced it all together.

I realised that our society had become so complex, that even people with seemingly pointless jobs or no job at all were all part of it. Most importantly, I realised that it wasn’t just about jobs.

In a complex society, everyone plays their part. Without the artists, who generates our conversations? Without the medics, who cures our ills? Without the refuse collectors, who saves us from being overrun by bacteria and vermin?

For a more nuanced and intellectual reflection, see this excellent lecture by Professor Howard Stevenson.