I am sitting here, the room delightfully bathed in sunshine, looking at my dog blissfully curled up on his blanket strategically placed for maximum sun-rays & can't help the little smile that keeps appearing on my face. It was the same on our wee dog-trot in the park earlier this morning; despite the frost & the chill, it was one of those mornings when the crisp air in my lungs & the sun on my face made it feel extra-great to be alive (& not just 'cos it's Friday!). Grateful to be on the move & moving.
It reminded me of this great TedX talk I watched earlier this week; some of you may already know this chap from BBC1's Doctor in the House. In his talk, Dr Chatterjee shares how his young son ended up acutely ill due to a Vitamin D deficiency. You can just imagine the horror & guilt; even a qualified, young intelligent GP didn’t see this coming.
The talk touches on other various aspects of health & wellbeing & preventative medicine that are all worth pondering. It led me to searching out his new book too;
You might think, yeah yeah, we know all this. Yes, well I think most of us do ‘know it’, myself included. But are we PRACTISING it? Are we living it? Are we actually setting aside time to rest, taking adequate time to sleep, making time for play, ring-fencing time for family & friends, investing time in sourcing & cooking delicious, healthy food that doesn’t cost a fortune & doesn’t come in 17 layers of plastic that wreck the planet & wreak havoc on our eco-conscience?
Are we getting outside & getting the joyful dose of light & sunshine (yes even in winter in Ireland) that is so vital for us & our mental & physical health? Are we allowing ourselves time to sit down with a great book, curled up with a cosy blanket & a cuppa with the PHONE OFF (not just on silent or face-down). Or sitting down with your kids, no-one (adults very much included!) on screens or phones, & really engaging in play & true connection with each other?
During the working week, are we standing firm & logging off when we know OUR work is done, not playing the ridiculous zero-sum game of office-dawdling just because others are still sitting there, glued to their screens? Maybe they’re contractors & it’s in THEIR interests to sit there clocking up extra hours; if you’re on salary, no, it’s not. Maybe they’re just not-that-efficient?! Maybe they’re lonely & would rather work late than go home to an empty cold flat? Maybe they’re avoiding personal issues of another kind altogether. Maybe they’re like a former colleague of mine who used to sit playing Solitaire (screen angled strategically) from about 4:50pm until the Boss had left (yup really). It doesn’t mean WE have to play that game. Many many companies are waking up to the utter uselessness, inefficiency & financial cost of what is termed ‘presenteeism’. The Harvard Business Review shared that
“In fact, presenteeism appears to be a much costlier problem than its productivity-reducing counterpart, absenteeism.”
Long-hours in Japan has even resulted in actual death-through-overwork having its own name there; ‘karoshi’ as it is known is now being addressed by the government there. Just last year, a 31-year-old woman, Miwa Sado, a media worker at Japan's public broadcaster, died after doing 159 hours overtime in one month. The utter tragedy & waste of a young life doesn’t bear thinking about. And for what???
So, yes the Japanese powers-that-be are finally waking up to this problem; but why do we have to wait for ‘top-down’ change? In Japan, Ireland or anywhere? It’s just like many of our attitudes to the environment; we know there’s incontrovertibly a need for global & personal change but there’s this vague ‘oh well SOMEONE in power will sort it out’… Uh, no, that’s just not (good) enough. It’s really up to us. You & me. Individually.
And that’s where reading a book like Dr Chatterjee’s can so play a part. We sometimes need a map; we need a nudge; we need a guiding hand & a motivating voice.
From the little I’ve read about his book so far & from watching his Ted talk, I am now more than motivated to get the book. It struck me during the week as I was out walking my dog early one morning, that I’d, without any real effort or thought, adhered to three of his four suggestions. I hadn’t eaten anything after 7.30pm the night before, I’d gotten a good night’s sleep, I was out moving my body, in nature, getting light & fresh-air first thing in the morning & I wouldn’t be eating my breakfast until after the walk at c. 8am - thereby very easily, in fact, cruise-ily crushing the goal of his 12 hour ‘fast’.
And of course I love that Yoga so nicely & easily dovetails with his message; we can practice an energetic ‘plank-filled’ hour & get strong & warm; we can meditate for even a few minutes, focusing on our breath & fill a little pocket of time in our busy day with quiet, calm & stillness; we can practice Yoga Nidra & engage in ‘active rest’, doing our body, mind & spirit a power of healing good. And we can invite the Yogic philosophy of ‘santosha’ into our lives; bringing a sense of contentment into our lives; being satisfied with all that we already have & letting go of excess striving & the pointlessness & pain of comparison & all the unhappiness that brings.
So it doesn’t have to be hard, arduous, detailed or complex but help might be needed & welcome on this path to wellbeing. I am looking forward to seeing what else he has to share in the book. It’s on sale widely now & I just spotted it reduced on the great Irish book shop (Kenny’s of Galway) to boot. One recommendation of his I am going to try this Sunday (& hopefully all Sundays henceforth) is the ‘Electronic Sabbath’ - mobile phone & laptop off & away ALL DAY… Gulp. I shall (hopefully) happily report back…
Wishing you a restful & happy weekend, filled with sunshine, play, fun & all kinds of good things.
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