Here at MFM, we have recently been thinking about our health. From fitness to states of mind, we thought it was time to discuss the ins and outs of our lives and how well (or badly in some cases) we deal with certain situations and environments.
As the nights are drawing longer over Britain, it is usually a time for us to reflect back on the year whilst also planning on what’s ahead. A number of lifestyle factors can affect our health and, after a year of ups and downs, we have decided to tackle some of issues with regard to our mental and physical beings.
Scared Of Lonely
A lack of social connection can be said to influence how we feel and act. However, it is important to distinguish loneliness against being alone; some of us choose to believe that these are synonymous – we don’t think they are. While some of us enjoy our own company, this alone-time can be agonising for others, leaving them to feel isolated when not around a group of friends, work colleagues, or with family members.
It has been suggested that social isolation and loneliness are associated with increased mortality (Steptoe et al. 2013). Yet while recent research has primarily focused on older individuals, this is still prominent across the age spectrum. There is no certainty that isolation is a conditioning factor on health, but evidence seems to suggest that connecting with others is crucial to a healthy mind, body and soul.
This does not mean that we should put ourselves in compromising social positions, definitely not for the sake of it; alone can be healthy, but as we see it, lonely is not. So take some time to (re-)connect with a friend, but remember to take a little TLC for you, too.
If You’re Worried And You Can’t Sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep, and you’ll fall asleep, counting your blessings. Simple enough advice, in theory, but insomnia can be chronic for those who have it. We all get tired after a long week at work but exhaustion can affect our mood, cognition and energy levels; which can subsequently affect other parts of our lifestyle.
And while some of us can function on fewer hours than others, it is still integral for us all to count a few sheep every night. So take the time to catch some extra Zs in bed by switching off your smartphone or tablet at least an hour before lights out; this way, your body will already have begun to wind down before you realise it.
That way, you should have a clearer head the next morning and more energy to enjoy that fun-filled weekend you worked so hard for. We recommend, as earlybirds, going to bed a little earlier than usual, and then hopefully the alarm clock won’t sound so much like a drill in your brain come morning.
Are We What We Eat?
A lack of exercise and a poor diet can be one of the most popular lifestyle factors we’d all like to change. Recently, we have touched on the topic of healthier eating habits, largely in terms of lowering calories in the lead up to Christmas. But introducing exercise into your daily routine can also be beneficial to your health (I’m sure this isn’t the first, or last, time you’ll hear this).
Whether this is any form of light cardio, strength training, or a combination of both, having an active lifestyle can improve your health, and ultimately longevity, which helps both our physical and mental capacities. These variables are supported in their relationship to depression (Cann 2012); and have been seen to impact on our health whereby depression affects our food choices while diet can, in turn, affect our mental state.
Our advice is to not hurry into anything. Begin with light exercise, walking is a great start (get a dog!), or choosing stairs over the lift to your fifth-floor office is brilliant, too. It is also important to think about sugar and saturated fats by replacing naughty habits with high-fibre and low-sugar foods. This might just be the kick-start you need to a new you!
This one’s easy. What we call Green Therapy. Being outdoors will foster feelings of calm and tranquillity, leading to a healthier lifestyle. Take a long walk (with the new puppy you’ve just bought!) and breathe in some good ol’ fashioned fresh air; this should help your lungs, heart and mind. It’s a win-win!
Grief And Stress
Grief reconfigures time, its length, its texture, its function: one day means no more than the next, so why have they been picked out and given separate names?
~ Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
Are you going through a break-up? Unemployment? Bereavement? Any major incident that transitions your life can be soul-destroying. Grief is said to mimic depressions and, as a result, cause stress. We will all have to deal with a form of grief in our lifetime, but it is dangerous when the stress and pressure of a situation outweighs our coping mechanisms.
An example might be stress at work, illness, or a death of a loved one. In whatever predicament you are in, ask for help. Like our first topic, you can help yourself by connecting, not being isolated from the world.
By seeking help, you may get out of your own mind-space; grief can tend to cloud your judgement and take on an external perspective. There is also health professionals who make it their job to help individuals in such need. Their lifestyle factors can impact all of us, at any moment in our lives; for some, a number of these at once.
It is crucial to realise there is always help out there, and the key is to stay happy and healthy. Hopefully, we have been able to share some of the things which affect us in our daily lives, and the troubles and challenges we face to keeping healthy. This is not always easy but just reading about it might make a difference; it certainly helps writing about it!
We cannot claim that this single article is the cure towards a perfect life, far from it. We’re also not proclaiming that we are some almighty oracles with all of life’s answers, but having gone through a number of hardships this year, we wanted to share with you some of the choices and factors that have helped, and are helping, us to cope with that 2014 has thrown at us. From the MFM Team.