An intriguing study from Yale, published this month in the journal ‘Social Science and Medicine’, suggests that reading books will improve our health and help us to live longer.
Throughout history people have been writing diaries. There’s nothing new about it. But what is new is that psychological research has highlighted that diary writing for just five or ten minutes a day can have a really powerful impact on our physical and psychological well-being.
We all know that taking a walk in nature is good for us. We move our body and our mind slows down. We feel refreshed. As if this wasn’t enough, recent scientific research has shed light on some of the less obvious benefits.
Towards the end of July I plan to do a gruelling forty mile trek across the Pyrenees. I decided, in part, to do this walk as a challenge to raise money for the Cornwall Air Ambulance. This has brought some interesting responses. For example, my son agreed to sponsor me, but suggested that next year I could sponsor him to lie on a beach towel for two weeks off the Amalfi Coast. It was an astute remark. There is indeed something strange about doing something for yourself but asking people to give to charity at the same time. I am doing it because of my work as a psychological therapist.
How well do you connect with your nearest and dearest? A lot of psychological research has explored this subject, but it’s not rocket science. Perhaps the most critical ingredient is about how well you show interest and curiosity in your partner. Showing interest makes people feel heard and valued, and they like you more for it.
Many modern therapies now focus on helping people do things differently in their lives, rather than just talking things over. Talking can make you feel better, but it is action that leads to change. In fact, we all know this, but we struggle to put it into practice. There is a gap between what we know and what we do.
We all know that exercise is beneficial but unfortunately most of us don’t do it. Which is a problem because if we don’t put some effort into making a life we want we will possibly end up with having a life we definitely do not want. We all have lots of creative reasons for not doing exercise, although in reality only one thing holds us back. We don’t exercise because it is uncomfortable. And we avoid discomfort like the plague!
Last year I hit the grand old age of sixty and I have to say it knocked me somewhat. Reaching forty and fifty had hardly touched me. But I wasn't ready for sixty. This got me thinking about the psychological aspects of growing old.
Do you recognise the phrase, ‘Put some elbow grease into it’. It generally implies that your efforts are a bit lacklustre and you need to apply a more oomph.
Now, as a psychologist, I wonder whether we need to apply some ‘elbow grease’ in our life. Do we expect the good things in life to be delivered on a plate? Do we give up too easily? Does modern life make us too soft?
Why is committing to exercise so hard? We all know that it will make us happy, reduce stress, improve our health and prolong our life. Even though it is a real ‘no-brainer’, many of us struggle putting it into practice.
Unfortunately, whilst one part of our brain might desire to be healthier and happier, another part wants to conserve energy. So, on the one hand, we want to be as fit and healthy as can be, but at the same time, we gravitate towards doing absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle to getting exercise lies between our ears.