Having had a few weeks to take stock over the festive season, I have decided to make some changes to blog for the new year. I have lots of plans for 2019 which promises to be an exciting year, for the blog and in other related areas too. In order to fit it all in and practice what I preach when it comes to wellbeing for real life, I will be making a few adjustments.
The world of wellbeing is a fascinating one but seismic shifts in evidence and practice don’t tend to occur every week and I am keen to keep content fresh and relevant rather than reporting on the same issues if not much has changed. As a result I will be posting a little less frequently on news updates and more on specific topics (including topics suggested by you, the followers of this blog) and trying to keep the posts shorter, easier to digest and even more practical and user friendly.
As ever, your feedback is vital in helping me develop the blog so that it is as useful as possible, whether you be a professional practising in the world of lifestyle medicine and wellbeing, or a person interested in this for yourself or for others. Please send your questions and suggestions for topics in and I will do my best to accommodate. If I have enough questions on particular topics then I will put together a Frequently Asked Questions section as a permanent resource for all blog readers.
On January 16th, I will be presenting with my colleague at a New Year, New You event on healthy weight and wellbeing at Spire Hospital in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. If you live locally and would like to attend, more information is available here. We will be covering a number of areas of wellbeing including diet, movement, sleep and relaxation (including the chance to take part in a taster session of meditation and and mindfulness).
Good news! The further you’ve got to go, the easier it is to get started.
I will finish today’s post with one of the key messages that I will be giving at the event. It’s one about change. Lots of us use the opportunity of the start of a new year to reflect on the last one, think about our wellbeing and what we would like to change or improve over the coming year. Some of us succeed, some don’t. It can be pretty daunting when considering making a big change to your life such as stopping smoking, losing weight, drinking less, doing more physical activity or learning to relax. You may feel you have a mountain to climb. You may look enviously at your friends and work colleagues with apparently perfect body mass indexes, turning up to work on their bikes with a yoga mat on the back, eating their healthy salads at lunchtime and talking about their plans for a dry January.
What I want to share with you is that if you feel you have a long way to go and big changes that you would like to make…it’s really, really easy to get started! No one climbs Mount Everest in a day. People start at low altitude and gradually acclimatise. The greatest benefits to health and wellbeing are seen in those who move slightly from being at high risk of these problems…to slightly lower risk. To base camp, not the summit. If you are more or less completely inactive and break into a sweat at the thought of breaking into a sweat, just 10 minutes a day of walking could reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke by 30 or 40%. If you are permanently stressed out and anxious, just starting with 5 minutes a day of relaxation (such as reading, listening to music, being out in nature or using a mindfulness app) will make a big difference to how you feel. If you are chronically sleep deprived, cutting out caffeine after midday avoiding alcohol and not using your phone for an hour or two before bedtime could really improve the quality and quantity of your sleep, which will mean you wake up each day transformed with more energy and better mood. Thinking small can make a big difference. Why not talk about the changes you would like to make with your friends, family or doctor?
That’s it for this week. Until next time, take care of yourself!
Dr Richard Pile