Wellness Matters 19.03.2021
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
In spite of the changeable weather this week, for example we had 7’ on Sunday and 13.5’ on Tuesday generally the weather and tides have been favourable and this Saturday 20th March is when the spring equinox falls. The astronomical spring will then last until the summer solstice, which in 2021 lands on Monday 21 June.
I only recently discovered that equinox means that day and night are of equal length, marking the start of spring, and this year to celebrate, my fellow intrepid Not Baywatch Swimmers and I will be in the water at 0615 on Sunday.
Wander Woman Scotland https://wander-women.co.uk/ invited us to rise early this last week to welcome the sunrise. I tend to wake early but made a conscious effort to be outside and walking on the beach just that bit sharper. I have the advantage of an east facing window on my first floor landing so can determine whether to complete my usual circuit clockwise, starting on the beach or counterclockwise, through the Lodge Grounds. Monday heralded an outstanding sunrise (clockwise), Tuesday and Wednesday were more cloudy (counterclockwise) so on Wednesday I walked through The Lodge Grounds at 0610. I was immediately struck by just how loud the dawn chorus was, contained in its tree lined arena, and felt slightly guilty that the numerous rabbits and squirrels, enjoying their early morning nibbles, were disturbed by an inquisitive terrier desperate to be let off her lead.
On such occasions Jilly reminds me of one of those little wooden dogs we had as children which would bounce along behind us, the difference being that Jilly pulls just enough so the lead is taught, her ears pricked, tail high and senses working overtime. She has come a long way in her training since we met 3 years ago on a cold, wet, drizzly Tuesday when I made the 5 hour round trip to Lockerbie to collect her. She was stinking, threw up in the car, had never been in a house and was terrified of everything - especially closed doors. Since then, through patience and just the right amount of treats for good behaviour she has fully adjusted to living at home.
During my walk through Lodge Grounds on Wednesday, I decided to let nature fill my ears with sound, rather than through my headphones, and was not disappointed. I heard at least five different bird calls, including wood pigeon, blackbird and the inimitable seaside squawk of seagulls.
A great spotted woodpecker has taken up residence in a tree behind my home and I caught sight of him last week, bobbing up and down the tree, tapping out grubs and mites to take to his mate.
Having an April birthday, I love the activity of spring and this year I am reminded that a full year has passed since we waited with anticipation to hear how the coronavirus pandemic would affect us. After the initial shock that full lockdown meant closing schools, and once I had come out of my anxiety tailspin, I focused on the task of remote working: supporting my team of teachers, learning assistants, parents and pupils, and settled into a natural work rhythm which I have maintained to this day.
I vividly recall that within hours of lockdown in March 2020, all birdsong was amplified because there was very little traffic or footfall. Across the globe images were appearing on social media of animals reclaiming their preferred feeding grounds because humans were locked inside.
I loved the silence, it settled my mind and heart and allowed me to be brave enough to change my career.
Last Saturday I joined an online event hosted by WomenEd Scotland, entitled Connect and Communicate #10%Braver which was enlightening, fun, motivating and joined by 40+ participants from across Scotland. I particularly enjoyed associating with my online social media tribes who have become an essential point of connection during this extraordinary year. I doubt I could have envisaged that harnessing technology such as Zoom, Google Meets, Teams, in this way would open doors rather than close them.
During the event on Saturday we were put into breakout rooms and followed a format called Spaces for Listening during which we all had 1 minute and 40 seconds to share our name and thoughts on women progressing in leadership in education. The following themes emerged as areas of focus for supporting women (and men) in leadership: Diversity, Culture, Trust, Gender, Mentoring, and Menopause.
Having had a hysterectomy in 2009 to remove a melon sized fibroid, I am grateful to have had few symptoms, although I did keep my ovaries so there was every chance I might be afflicted. Perhaps it’s hereditary, but there's no denying that for many women the hormonal changes are at best frustrating or embarrassing and at worst debilitating.
I have studied, observed, listened and learned enough to know that there are some basic approaches we can all take to maintain a healthy lifestyle:
Move frequently and strive for 10-15 min a day. All phones have a pedometer in them, so take small steps to increase your distance. If walking is difficult, try these exercises as recommended by NHS for wheelchair users: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/wheelchair-users-fitness-advice/
Eat well - the more processed your food is, the less beneficial it is for your system. I gave you a recipe for granola recently - here’s one for delicious popcorn: I use an air popcorn machine so no fat at all and add a teeny bit of Sweet Freedom Popcorn Drizzle, a sprinkle of salt and if you're feeling indulgent, some nuts and seeds which can be gently toasted on a dry frying pan over a low heat. No extra packaging, no waste and you control how much sweetener you use.
Drink lots of water. Too often we reach for something to eat when in fact we are thirsty. Have the water first then see if you're still hungry.
Prepare your own meals. It might be time consuming, but what better way to get into shape than to cut, chop, peel, move around the kitchen listening to good music. I recently posted a video of me dancing in my kitchen, and a number of friends asked if I was already tipsy at 5pm. No was my response, I just like to dance and I don’t need a drink in me to do that.
Sleep is vital to mental and physical wellbeing and the science is out there: too much screen time is bad for physical and mental health. A regular bedtime routine is essential. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/how-to-get-to-sleep/
Be mindful in your daily actions for eating, exercise, and preparing for bed.
And finally …
Kindness begins when we consider the consequences and impact of our actions on others. Be quiet and hold all victims of violence in your hearts and through your actions and interactions with others. Sarah Everard, George Floyd, Breona Taylor, James Bulger, Damilola Taylor, to name but a few, did not deserve the violence inflicted on them. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Don’t be a bystander, if you are shown an image or a joke in bad taste, do not mindlessly forward it, instead delete it and gently ask whoever sent it not to send such material again. This is especially true for men. Ask yourself this: if you wouldn’t show it to your wife, sister, daughter or mother, then it is likely to be sexist or misogynistic and therefore wholly unacceptable. Delete it and put an end to the intimidation and degradation of women.
Wellness Matters will return on Friday 2nd April. Until then be well.