DIY Fitness – Free, Outdoors and great for well-being! How about it?

Social Media is a fantastic way at keeping in touch with people and can aid well-being.   But sometimes ‘well-being’ involves putting the Smartphone down and switching the computer off.  Ouch!

There isn’t anyway of getting around it, we need to do it – exercise!  Regular exercise can add years to our life and it can lift our mood.  I recently joined a gym on a short-term basis however I am afraid to say I didn’t go often.  I found it a little lonely!  The environment didn’t feel right for me and it was too expensive. However for some people using a gym maybe an excellent way of keeping fit and there are usually free trials available.

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I think I prefer to be outdoors, get some fresh air and be with others. So how about a Power-walk in Hyde Park? Anyone up for it; or have any other ideas? Or do you know of any outdoor free or other cheap ways to keep fit that you would like to share?  Please leave a comment or send us a tweet with any ideas!

The NHS Choice Website claims that Research by the University of Essex has shown that exercising outdoors boosts people’s physical and mental health more than going to indoor gyms, even in winter. The National Trust has written about the outdoor gym and they claim  that Just five minutes in the outdoor gym every day can lead to improvements in mood and self-esteem, as well as physical fitness.

They report these benefits on their website

Benefits of exercising outdoors

  • Burn up to 20 percent more calories
  • Work harder and improve balance on uneven surfaces and in natural elements
  • Perfect full body workout
  • Vitamin D boost good for bones
  • A really healthy glow

So it’s January and I can’t think of a better month to start. Please send any comments or ideas – Thank You

VIcky 🙂

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Food for thought..eat well for general well being

Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market

This is what £24 got a Friend of Leeds Kirkgate Market on Saturday 12th of January 2013:

1 big bag of small English Delicious apples,

3 small punnets of blueberries,

1 big head of celery,

1 celery root as big as a baby’s head,

1 butternut squash,

10 sweet satsumas,

5 umbrella mushrooms,

3 mangoes,

5 fairtrade bananas,

3 fennel bulbs,

4 big oranges,

6 unwaxed lemons,

7 carrots,

5 medium white onions,

3 regular zucchini,

3 round Spanish zucchini,

2 medium broccoli heads,

1 small cauliflower,

2 spinach bunches,

1 bunch of parsley,

2 big pieces of fresh ginger root,

2 radicchio heads,

4 heads of Spanish garlic

VARIETY, QUALITY AND LOW PRICE, it’s what is all about at Leeds kirkgate Market. But will this survive Leeds Council’s plans for it?

Council officers are working on a series on proposals that will be discussed by councillors in either February…

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The Present, a short film about a woman’s emotional journey to work.

Last year I took part in a film making project with the community group ‘Arts and Minds of Leeds.  A few of us, who were new to film-making were involved in this creative project which culminated in our short films being shown as part of last years Love Arts festival and The Leeds Film Festival – Film to Change event.

My film had a theme of emotional well-being and is about a woman who is struggling to manage stress and unhelpful patterns of thinking – which is causing her to be unhappy. However she manages to find some respite from this,   watch and you shall find out….

THE PRESENT 

The Present she unwraps is actually a gift which allows her to become more aware of  The Present moment.  We can worry about the future, ruminate about the past and dwell upon problems to the extent that it interferes with our quality of life and decreases our sense of well-being. This kind of thinking can be all-consuming and leave little space for anything else,  which may leave us feeling depleted and stressed. Research has shown that purposefully paying attention to the present moment is a technique which can help to manage this. Once the woman in the film has opened the present – she is then able to appreciate the beautiful roses on her desk that she previously hadn’t noticed.

It’s not always easy to change the way we think or to manage difficult emotions but there are techniques which can help. I had recently attended a Mindfulness Meditation Course which was the inspiration behind the film.

Sophie MacWhannell is the actress who played the woman in the film.  She is Leeds-based, very talented, passionate and extremely supportive.  I am going to plug Sophie because she was so fantastic !  Not only has she acted in various plays and short films but she also performs as part of a comedy improvisation group called Monkeyheads AND is part of *Urban Sprawl.  She recently performed with Urban Sprawl in the play;  ‘Wrecked’ which was also part of the Love Arts Leeds festival. So if you need a talented and dedicated actress – look Sophie up!

Thanks also to Carl Allport, who was the course tutor and teaches at Leeds Metropolitan University, to Arts and Minds and also to Inkwell.   Also thanks to everyone else who took part whose names are in the credits, it was very collaborative and nice to work in a great team.

Hope you enjoyed it, would love any feedback, thanks Vicky 🙂

Also If you are interested in taking part in the making of a film contact Arts and Minds.

*Urban Sprawl is Yorkshire’s only homeless theatre company. Formed in August 2004, we are committed towards using theatre as an arts engagement tool to help people affected by homelessness and related issues.Urban Sprawl meet every Monday at Multiple Choice 5-8 pm.If your interested in finding out more email us at urb@urbansprawl.org.uk

 

Magical thinking and Panto

Columbine and Harlequin

As a seven year old I danced the part of Columbine in a school panto, I have memories both of finding the masked Harlequin boy rather scary and choosing the material for the costume, white taffeta, with violet flower trimmings.

The fairly recent field of study into childhood memory has reported the improbability of adults being able to access memories of events prior to them being ‘age three, or few between three and six’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childhood_memory

Some early childhood memories appear to me, partly tales we tell ourselves and part family rhetoric, often when I’ve read memoirs which include early childhood experience I’m struck by the amazing clarity of the author’s recall of events which they present as facts, mine are generally rather hazy, although I do have a fleeting image  of watching the Queens coronation, 1953, on a neighbours TV, I would have been three, another ‘event’ when aged 4/5, where I snapped the lovely pearl beaded  trim from a favourite dress, my recall of the material’s  colour, pattern and feel, seem clear, neither event huge traumatic incidents, why remember them, why now?

It is commonly thought that as you get older you recovery earlier memories in ‘detail’ whereas you can’t always remember what happened earlier in the day! Stress and depression also appear to negatively affect memory regardless of age.

Sadly some children experience trauma and abuse of an extreme nature during their tender years and the imprint on their mind, can not be denied, neither can its impact on their later emotional and mental outlook or recall, my brother traumatised in a number of ways from a very young age claimed to have pre and perinatal memory,  research indicates it may be possible,

http://birthpsychology.com/free-article/prenatal-memory-and-learning

My childhood, was far from helpful in aiding me flourish in several aspects of my development and well being,  one quirky thing about it was Mum discouraged me  reading many fairy stories, I had the impression she thought they were nonsense, her quest for ‘truth’ led her to over expose me to stories from scripture, portraying them as factual, some might argue these were equally as make believe as the former.  l went on to learn the traditional children’s stories at nursery and junior  school.

The  doctrinal beliefs  of mum’s religion used the Christmas celebration, with it’s ‘pagan’ trappings surrounding the  ‘real’ meaning. Jesus symbolic birth date, as a chance to distance themselves from mainstream religion.The magical gift giving personage of Santa Claus, was similarly considered nonsensical and fanciful.

People often feel sorry for kids raised in this way as though they ‘miss out’, however since they socialise with others who uphold the same beliefs they have a chance to feel ‘normal’, a lot depends also on how their parents promote the child’s self confidence and personal conviction, it aided me to have the courage not to be afraid  to be different, stand up for what I thought was right, I think that helped me to speak openly about my mental ‘breakdowns’ when they happened as an adult.

The mental and emotional sifting of ‘breakdown’ also enabled me to embrace some aspects of other belief systems and magical thinking. I had already, when I became a mum, re- discovered the the value of children’s stories and rhymes, things I had long forgotten, these returned sufficiently to sing or tell them to my daughter, bringing her up in a culture where little western literature was available,most of my story telling came from memory, she  loved the story of Cinderella. Although not considering myself part of any wave of Feminism, that story went against every grain of my  thought and experience as a woman. therefore I found it hard to relate it every night, on return to this country, pantomime proved an enjoyable and new adventure for us both. where else can you relieve pent up emotion in such a fun way? a good boo, hiss and stamping of feet I find very therapeutic.

Now of grandma age but not yet with the pleasure of grandchildren, I find myself drawn toward children’s stories and rhyme. Occasionally I child sit, it’s delightful seeing the youngster’s pleasure at reading books, watching fantasy film or playing  ’round and round the garden’ or similar games.

My patchy knowledge of fairy tales became apparent whilst writing a small ‘creative’ piece in which I described myself as an ice maiden, an after thought, perhaps I meant snow queen.

Snow Queen

I had the vague idea they both stood outside the stereotypical image of female characterisation, and that’s what I had intended, a brief look at Wikipedia clarified the difference of their characters……Ice Maiden – a comic book super heroine ‘her greatest ability is to become very cold and create ice armor in times of great stress. Her powers are closely linked to her mental state’, the Snow Queen is less altruistic and complex in her behaviour.

A few days later while visiting someone with an eight year old girl, the 2001 version of ‘Snow White: The Fairest of them all’,came on tv, the mum and grandma present were equally as enthralled as the kid, I was for a while. It didn’t seem to be true to the version I knew, it had a much darker interpretation  and seemed in dispersed with themes of the splintered mirror from the Snow Queen story, while it led me to read a little of the theme of Snow White and the seven dwarfs, I came across another completely different story about two girls, Red Rose, Snow White and one dwarf!

Rose Red and Snow White

These stories are frequently about the struggle between good and evil, within and without ourselves and happy endings abound, after all they are primarily for children, for whom magical thinking gives  a way of living in the land of  real giants, their parents. who at times are kind and gentle, at others harsh and shrill. Although professionals recognise such thinking as normal in childhood, if it continues in to adulthood it may receive diagnosis  and treatment and is even recorded in the DSM as a symptom of mental illness, where is the borderline between ‘abnormal’ magical thinking and fantasy? I think my fantastical ‘journeys’ keep me sane!

One pantomime without a happy end  in sight, is called the ‘Five Giants of Widsi’ who afflict the poor with all kind of want and illness, curtailed for a while by the good fairy, Well Fair, let loose again by the Mistress of the Thatched Palace on Thames, the Third Way Downing Labourers and the Three Boyes Poshe of Minstyre D’ytat, who use the elves, Pip and Esa of Credite de Universiale, to further tighten the belts of humble folks throughout their Kingdom,…. Boo, Hiss and Stamp!

A previous discussion in the comments area of this  blog touched on the theme of ‘the personal as political’, hopefully,  2013 will give scope for contributors to comment on the ways they combat  injustices which have affected their mental health and how they mange to generally keep well. I recommend a trip to the Panto, going as a large group often attracts good discounts.

Su.

Jean Davison

Happy New Year! Although I might (dare I admit it?) be a member of the Xmas ‘Bah! Humbug!’ brigade, I do like the feeling of new beginnings that the New Year brings.

coin_janus_225-212_sHow apt that our Roman ancestors named the first month of the year after Janus, their god of doors and gates. Doors and gates serve as both ways out and ways in. I love it that Janus has two faces, one looking forwards and one looking back. The beginning of January seems a good time for looking back at the last year, and forward to the next.

On a global level, the past year has, as always, brought devastating events and situations that we might only learn about through the media, but which will have affected those involved on a very deep and personal level. My own highs and lows are so small in comparison.

Looking back over…

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