I was recently diagnosed with diabetes. One of the things I have to do to keep it under control is walk for half an hour day. I’ve not been much of a walker for years and so this is a bit of a challenge for me! My friend and fellow Leeds Wellbeing Webber Su is a big fan of walking, so I interviewed her about this. We sat outside the Abbey Inn pub that borders Horsforth and Bramley and took some photos of the area.
I do struggle with motivation. Sometimes arranging to go with someone else is enough to focus on doing it, or convincing myself that I’m really not fit and listening to my body. I need to just get on and do it and dedicate myself to it. A practical thing I do is to write a large memo as a prompt and place it somewhere prominent as a reminder that I want to get out of the house and walk.
People often say walking is the best exercise and can raise your mood. What is your experience of this?
I think that is absolutely true. And there are benefits to walking with other people, for companionship and safety. I did have a time where I dedicated myself to doing it everyday. I’d do it without headphones and music, take a notebook because solutions to problems that seemed insurmountable would kind of float to the surface as you’re walking. Kind of like meditation. If you’re doing it by yourself, you can enter into that state.
Where and when do you like to walk?
Because there isn’t always someone to go with, it has to be local. That’s Leeds 13, Bramley. When I’ve felt fitter, I have walked from Bramley to Horsforth, across the boundary, the river and canal. That’s a nice long walk. I like Bramley Fall Woods and Bramley park. There is a fabulous view from there. I like Half Mile Lane, which borders Bramley and Farsley. Going further afield, Roundhay Park and Woodhouse Moor are pleasant. I attend Leeds University and the campus is an enjoyable place to walk, it includes Saint George’s field.
Have you always enjoyed walking?
Yes it was very much part of my upbringing. We always walked to school, I walked at least four miles a day, to and from Primary School. I always walked to work. But I’m not a hiker or country rambler, I find that hard nowadays. I walk to the shops and town. I keep in mind it should be a daily activity.
To summarise then, motivation can be improved by having a walking companion, using prompts to focus, walking can help you to think more clearly and gain insight into any problems, Walking is an opportunity to enjoy nature and it’s scenery, it is the best exercise and helps raise your mood.
This is a workshop hosted by the What Works Centre for Wellbeing at the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Leeds Beckett University on Thursday, 10th September 2015 from 09:30 to 12:30 to examine how wellbeing evidence can be used to improve community wellbeing. The workshop is an opportunity for you to inform the early stages of a key evidence programme which will have national impact.
The What Works Centre for Wellbeing is a UK government-funded initiative recently launched by the What Works Network to enable a range of stakeholders to access independent, high quality, accessible evidence syntheses on wellbeing.
This workshop will explore how wellbeing evidence can be useful in the day-to-day work of those working in a range of sectors including local government, the voluntary and community sector, public health, housing and the private sector. It is aimed primarily at those in the Yorkshire region.
We will be focusing on policy areas related to place and community, including planning, housing, built environment, social capital, participation, public health, green space, transport, and community development. The issues the What Works Centre focusses on will be determined based on this stakeholder engagement, so these workshops represent an important early opportunity to influence the Centre’s work.
During the session we will be tackling questions such as:
•What ingredients are important for community wellbeing?
•How can your work enhance community wellbeing?
•What are the key challenges in our work for improving community wellbeing?
•How might wellbeing, a focus on wellbeing, wellbeing data, or effective wellbeing interventions, address these challenges?
•What gaps are there in wellbeing evidence?
There are just 12 tickets left so if you want one, sign up for What Works at:
Daniel has been contributing his poems and blog posts to the Wellbeing Web for two years, we recently spoke together about the many things he does that aid his wellbeing. Our informal chats revealed the intriguing blend of ancient and modern techniques, and pastimes which Daniel uses to keep positive.
The first of our chats took place during our trip to buy essential oils and joss sticks that might help our respective current mood. Among the blends we chose was myrrh, known from ancient times for its medicinal and spiritual healing properties. When we next met to conclude our discussion we burned the myrrh.
People have been orating and writing poetry from ancient times as their muse inspired. Daniel’s recent such musings, ‘Road of Joy’, was his latest blog post. Daniel combines poetry, the ancient means of expressing thought and feeling with the modern art of blogging. Previous discussions had us pondering how and in what way we considered thought and feeling.differed, hindered or helped us in our wellbeing. Lets see if of the things Daniel engages with give any hints if we reached a conclusion.
I like spending time with close friends, playing and listening to music, meditating, consulting the I Ching, reflecting on Zen,Tao and Buddhist philosophy. In addition I take part in a variety of skill based and healthy living courses at Inkwell and Swarthmore Education Centre, this last twelve months it has included; creative writing; short stories, poetry writing, web design, group Alexander Technique sessions, and art classes. Workshops at Leeds Mind have also helped me with my confidence and to work on relaxation techniques.
Knowing very little about consulting the I Ching, I asked Daniel to describe the practice and how he feels this helps him.
The I Ching is an ancient Chinese book which traditionally is consulted by use of either throwing coins or willow sticks to determine which of its 64 hexagrams to read. It is similar to the way some Christians use bibliomancy when seeking guidance. After opening the bible at random any text found there is taken as a guideline for resolving a particular issue that may be troubling the person.
I use coins when I consult the I Ching, I feel this works on the principle of synchronicity, enabling and revealing advice and information from the book in a way I find profound.
Daniels musical interests include his playing keyboard in the band Burning Skies Revolution
and he explained what about this is enjoyable, and how he deals with any ‘nerves’ when performing at gigs.
I find playing a musical instrument raises my spirits, which is cathartic. Socializing with other band members during the nine years we’ve been together is beneficial, and it’s helped me not to watch too much telly.
As a kid I liked listening to electronic music and had a keyboard bought as a present. Earlier this year it was highly enjoyable to see the band Icebreaker, who play electronic music, at Howard Assembly Rooms, and I reviewed it for the Wellbeing Web see here,
I can read music a bit but mostly play by ear. Jamming at our weekly rehearsals or on other occasions when me and my mates are just relaxing is fun.
Public performance isn’t something I ever envisaged the band doing, it only happened because we stood in at short notice for another band. Although I get nervous before a gig, my confidence is helped by both the social support of the other band members, and by keeping in mind that I’ve done it sucessfully on previous occasions.
Daniel acknowledged that like most of us keeping active and remaining positive are beneficial for our wellbeing, but that it’s not always easy to remain upbeat. I asked Daniel when the ‘going gets tough’ which of the things he lists is he best able to hang on to.
I’d say it’s the things I can easily access at home, or close to home that help me if I get down. Contact with my friends who live nearby, and the meditation on ancient philosophies and techniques which I can do at home are my mainstays. In recent years however access to modern technology via the internet and my smart phone have also helped.
Discussions with Daniel about wellbeing didn’t reveal a clear divide between thought and feeling, except perhaps that they are flip-sides of the same coin. We might sometimes find ourselves relying more on one side than the other but Daniels use of ancient and modern techniques shows he does much to keep them well balanced.
I love this poem about finding yourself again – probably after failed love, but I think it can equally apply to any hard time or trauma.
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Derek Walcott, Nobel Laureate – Literature, 1992
Turns out I posted this once before in 2009. I hadn’t remembered. It seems like a good time to share it again.
More related on Beyond Meds
As far back as I can recall, I have always strived for ‘perfection’. I was raised in a single parent household; my mother abandoned our home when I was aged 9 and my brother, Tom, aged 3. Our father was a hardworking executive who always put his children first, and I always wanted to show him that we would be alright without Mum. When Mum first left us, I used to hear him crying in his bedroom, though he never openly shared his pain with us. I, too, cried every night for many months, but I did not want Dad to know how much we missed Mum.
I took on the role of mother in our home, preparing meals for Dad and Tom and somehow still managing to get top marks at school. Every day was a struggle for me in adolescence and I felt that although my teachers always told me I was an excellent student, inside, I was not worth half as much as they thought. I felt like I had to work harder than anyone in my class to do well, for I wasn’t an intellectual by nature and what I really wanted to do, was be an artist. Summer in Leeds was always one of my happiest times, for I could set the books aside, pull out my canvass and head for Middleton or Chevin Forest Park, painting the beautiful natural landscapes which surrounded me and eased my pain. When I painted, I could finally be myself and that felt very liberating.
It wasn’t until I was at Uni that my drinking problem began. I started drinking at parties in my first year of Law, but soon, alcohol became part of my routine wind-down every evening after attending lectures and studying. It didn’t help that my flatmate, Martha, commonly downed at least a bottle of wine every night.
At first it was fun to get wasted and lose ourselves in the haze that is the party lifestyle but I soon got a warning from one of my favourite Professors, that the last written assessment I had handed in was way below my usual standard. She said she had noticed that I wasn’t showing up for lectures or tutorials either, and asked if I had a problem. I denied it, of course, but after hitting rock bottom a couple of times, I spoke with my Dad and decided to go to rehab. The following summer I completed a six-week stay at an inpatient centre, and continued to seek outpatient care when Uni began.
The ‘gold standard’ rehabilitation programmes often require that recovering addicts quit alcohol or drugs altogether, but somehow, I found that the ‘cold turkey’ approach didn’t work for me. I worked alongside my therapist on a ‘harm reduction’ programme, meaning I gradually began reducing my alcohol consumption. From a bottle a day, I was soon content with just enjoying a glass or two in the evening, and upon my therapist’s suggestion, I joined the University art club, meeting with other painters every weekend and heading for lovely areas to paint, sculpt and share our views on the current art scene. It was there that I met my good friend, Laurie. She introduced me to yoga, something that has become an important part of my life. Yoga helps me disconnect from stress and find the acceptance I think I had always struggled to find.
I received a mixed reaction from my friends when I told them about ‘harm reduction’. ‘Shouldn’t recovering alcoholics completely abstain from drinking?’ they asked. Of course abstinence is ideal, though sometimes drinkers just don’t have the strength to quit all at once; I will admit to having had two ‘relapses’ during which I binged on alcohol. One binge occurred when my father passed away eight years ago; the other on the first year anniversary of his death.
These days, I have completely stopped drinking. The yoga lifestyle has saved me, I often say, and I tend to seek my ‘highs’ in my legal practice (I specialise in Intellectual Property), in exercise, and in painting. To this day, I still spend any free time I have in my favourite park, capturing some of the most beautiful moments in the beautiful landscapes of Leeds.
Further reading: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB12994/drug-misu-eng-2013-rep.pdf http://www.rehabs.com/pro-talk-articles/exploring-the-impact-of-trauma-culture-and-policy-on-womens-health/ http://www.ihra.net/files/2010/05/31/HIVTop50Documents11.pdf http://www.nta.nhs.uk/uploads/nta_review_of_the_effectiveness_of_treatment_for_alcohol_problems_fullreport_2006_alcohol2.pdf http://www.ihra.net/what-is-harm-reduction