Rest means not doing. It’s about having unstructured ‘empty’ periods in your life (ideally on a daily basis). This is, of course, an unfamiliar experience for most of us, since we tend to rush from one thing to another, constantly filling our time with ‘stuff’. But rest is designed to keep a check on that, to prevent us from getting too absorbed in doings and to help us cross over from ‘doing’ to ‘being’.
There is a growing recognition that humanities increasing isolation from the natural world is a significant and important contributor to the prevalence and intensity of distress, emptiness and the feeling of ‘not belonging’ that is being witnessed throughout the developed and now developing world. Spending time in doors, living in built up areas and failing to be present with nature when in nature, have lead to what I call nature malnourishment. Contact and connection with nature provides our body, mind and soul with a deep level of nourishment, which in turn promotes vitality, emotional health and in deed spiritual growth and maturation.
I work a lot with people whose heads tell them that some part of themselves is ugly, not ok, hideous, awful or bad. It’s surprisingly common amongst women and increasingly common amongst men. In addition to the unhappiness, obsessive thinking and low self-esteem this can bring about, self-rejection – rejection of some aspect of ourselves, prevents us from experiencing the undercurrent of well-being and peacefulness that is available to us in any given moment.
Regular moderate exercise is as close to a panacea for health and well-being as you can get. It’s essential for the health of your mind, the quality of your mood and the prevention of future health-related problems. What’s more, regular physical activity can help to release stored psychological and emotional tension, increase stress resilience, stimulate the production of new brain cells and inter-brain cell connections, increase feelings of self-worth and self-confidence, balance hormones, prevent and stabilise insulin resistance, reduce body fat, increase bone mass and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, hip fractures and breast cancer. You get the idea.
Does our mental state and mood influence our bodies ability to heal itself? That's a question I have been exploring for many years and the answer appears to be yes - to some degree. For example, a recent study carried out by Professor Kavita Vedhara a health psychologist at the University of Nottingham found that healing rates in people diabetes-related foot ulcers are influenced by their attitude and their state of mind.
This headline encapsulates the truth that most of us have good intentions when it comes to healthy living, but few will consistently take action to improve and maintain their health. In deed a survey by the new online service NHS MidLifeCheck found that 47 per cent of the adults admitted that, while they spend plenty of time talking about health, they rarely act to improve their own diet and fitness. So why is getting healthy so challenging for most of us?
This was the headline that caught my eye as I made my way through last months Perspectives in Public Health magazine – the official magazine for the Royal Society for Public Health. In a nutshell Australian researchers found that prolonged TV watching is positively correlated with an increased death rate among adults over the age of 25. They found that people who watch more than four hours a day have a 46 per cent higher risk of death from all causes and an 80 per cent increased risk of death from heart disease. That for me is fascinating.