As we come to the end of the planned 23 things in this wellbeing series (do tell us if we missed your favourite diversion, wellbeing activity or practice!) I just wanted to revisit some of the fundamentals of sustainable living.
Just getting half an hour outside in the sunshine can make you feel a whole lot better and makes sure you generate enough vitamin D to last you through the winter months. It is important to get out not just for exercise but to see the sky and feel the sun. Even if you are self-isolating, if you have a garden, balcony, side passage, a patch of rough ground adjoining your house or even a conservatory, you can still catch some rays without leaving home.
Getting out when you can and exercising even when you cannot is essential to revitalise body and mind, repair your posture and keep you feeling good. I used to fear and loathe exercise but I have come to appreciate how well it makes me feel. And if you eat well and drink plenty (of water!) you do get fitter over time: a little focused effort once every day or two means that everything starts to just work better and require less effort, and that feels really good.
Getting enough sleep each night is also essential to maintaining your mood and helping you feel strong and capable to face the new day. People generally need between 7-10 hours, most around 7-8 hours each night and most of us are simply not getting enough of it. Worse, our natural circadian (day-night) hormonal rhythms tend to mean we sleep deepest in the hours around midnight, so even turning in late and getting up late does you less good than getting to bed at a ‘sensible’ time. The NHS offers advice on getting a good night’s sleep.
Sleep often feels like a waste of time but it is an extremely active period when your body repairs and rejuvenates itself, body and brain flushing out the metabolic waste products from the day before and focusing on making repairs and consolidating new neural connections, respectively. We replace every cell in our bodies every six years or so, and the quality of the repair and replacement is directly dependent on how well we live and how much sleep we get. For all our tomorrows, it appears we are required to sacrifice our late evenings today.
At least we will be able to look forward to staying looking younger longer and feeling better each day until then – there is an upside to everything! 😉