Swimming the distance: mental health as a endurance pursuit

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If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may (or may not!) know that I’m currently training for a long distance swim in June. I’ll be swimming 5K, which is just over 3 miles (not an insubstantial distance for a swimmer), in lake Windermere during the Great North swim in June. At the moment I’m a bit concerned that I’ll be pulled out of the water half way through as I’m a little slow, but I have a bit more time to train and have been putting the effort in. Last year I swam a 2 mile event in about 1 hour and 20 minutes so if I can up my pace a bit and keep it going I should be ok, but I have the nerves all the same. I am already fitter than I was for last years event, but the distance is longer so on balance I am probably not as far ahead of myself as I would like to be.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been putting in a session in the gym one evening a week after work, as well as the swims. It’s a bit awkward to swim before or after work as the timings of the appropriate swim sessions don’t quite fit with my commute, and I don’t have enough discipline to quite force them to work! I’m trying to build up my stamina in just being able to do the same uncomfortable thing, mostly on the elliptical machine, for extended periods of time. I am concentrating on building up endurance and stamina, not so much speed. That is a gradual game. Little by little I get a bit stronger. Little by little each time I go a bit further. While at the gym a few weeks ago I was thinking about how the same principle applies to many of the other things I’ve been doing. I’ve been making the same film for at least 4 years now, and slowly I accumulate new bits and pieces for that until suddenly it starts to look like something that makes sense as a whole.

I think that working on my own mental health has been a similar process. I have a stressful day job. In the past few years I had some considerable anxiety about a range of things, and a bit of depression tagged along with that. Living like that is really tiring. Getting physically fitter now is probably really helping with that, but that has come as part of a general effort towards a healthier way of living at home. We now eat predominantly (but not exclusively) healthy plant based food, and have been doing so for over a year, but it took some time to work out how to make that work for us. I started working part time last year, dropping one day to enable me to swim and make things, which was quite a big little step in the right direction.

I wouldn’t say that I now spend all my time walking around in a state of ecstatic energetic creative contentment. But little by little, I think my ability to endure for the less enjoyable stuff of life, and look past it to the next fun thing is growing. Mental health isn’t a sprint to the finish line, it’s a long distance game.

Posted in Anxiety, making and mental health, mental health, swimming | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Objects with Meaning #9 – Assorted Corks

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This is a part of a series of photos of objects that have meaning to me. Want to know a little more about the origin of this project? Have a read here.

Fellow magpies, what objects have meaning for you? If you would like to join in and tell the story of your own objects with meaning have a read of this post, or post in the comments below.

 

 
Like what you see? I also make art. You can things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying.

Posted in gratitude, Inspiration, messy manifesto, minimalism, Objects with meaning, wellbeing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Quote Challenge – day 3

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Day 3 of the quote challenge. I was nominated by the fab Laurie from the great blog Meditations in Motion, where she writes very thoughtful on a range of subjects. When I started this challenge I wasn’t sure that I would mange it, but I think I have done ok. I think this was one of those instances where it has been good to try something new.

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day to do the same

Todays nominations are:

  1. Blue Velvet Jacket – this is a thoughtful blog that covers a range of interesting things.  She recently wrote this lovely post about a pair of pearl earrings as her ‘objects with meaning’, which I liked very much – get over there to have a read.
  2. LA of the blog Waking up the Wrong Side of 50 – I really like the witty posts on this blog, which are combined with some thoughtful posts on gratitude. A great read.
  3. Suzanne of the blog Being in Nature – I discovered this blog relatively recently and have really been enjoying her thoughts on ‘being in nature’.

Today I wanted to quote from the book Empathy: a handbook for the revolution by Roman Krznaric (which I think is now available under the far more boring title Empathy: why it matters and how to get it – I think I liked the other title better but there we are). It’s a long one, so bare with me…

‘The idea of collective empathy is especially relevant today because it counterbalances the highly individualistic focus of modern self help culture, which tends to view the search for happiness or wellbeing as a personal pursuit concerning our own ambitions and desires, rather than one that involved working with others towards common goals. Yet thinkers going back to Aristotle have recognised that we are social animals, and that joy and meaning in life grow, in good part, from being immersed in something larger than ourselves. Human beings thrive on ‘we’ as much as ‘me’.’

So I really liked this section in this book as it spoke very clearly to thoughts I have been having about the social mess our highly sophisticated society appears to have got itself into. While being quite introverted, and craving solitude on a frequent basis, I also believe that the work we put into building rich relationships with people close to us is an important foundation to wellbeing. In my day job I work in mental health research, and while I don’t want to get into reviewing the science here, there does seem to be a growing consensus that social isolation and loneliness are harmful to us. The job we have then, collectively, is to build a society that supports connection more that it supports commerce. I don’t think it is shopping that will set us free.

 

Posted in Inspiration, wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Quote Challenge – Day 2

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OK day 2 of the quote challenge. I was nominated by the lovely Laurie from the lovely blog Meditations in Motion. As well as blogging brilliantly about range of things, including running, she also wrote this lovely post about her mother’s ring as one of her ‘objects with meaning’. Well worth a trip over there to have a read, that’s all I’m saying.

So here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day to do the same.

Today I would like to nominate:

  1. Bjorn the Stormborn who runs a lovely blog in which he blogs about his artistic hobbies which include table top gaming and digital art. It’s such a quirky interesting blog – well worth a visit.
  2. Yolanda Chavez Sherma from the blog Yochet. This is a great blog about all of the interesting crochet project Yolanda has on the go, and more.
  3. The Frugal Veggie – who’s blog includes some great veggie recipes and tips for keeping down those costs, which are useful to most of us I think.

So here’s my quote for today. It’s from a book called ‘Letting stories breathe: a Socio-narratology’ by Arthur Frank.

‘The all too human dilemma is that by accepting being a story, a person at least provisionally accepts being what the story casts him or her to be, it’s interpretation’

So I think this is probably a geeky choice for a quote, but I really like it. I have been working on a documentary about someone for quite some time and this is one of the things I am troubled by, as I try to get anywhere near finishing it. I am telling someone else story – the finished result will necessarily be my construction or interpretation of what happened. That’s quite a big responsibility if the aim is for other people to see it, which it is. so I have been thinking on this for quite some time.

Posted in documentary film making | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Objects with meaning from Blue Velvet Jacket

Some how I completely missed this, which is really rubbish of me, but a few weeks ago Blue Velvet Jacket published this lovely post telling the story of a pair of pearl earrings. For anyone following the ‘objects with meaning’ series here on this blog please get on over there and have a read. It’s definitely worth the trip!

Fancy telling the story of your own ‘objects with meaning’? These posts here and here explain a bit more.

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Quote of the day Challenge – Day 1

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I have been nominated by the lovely Laurie of the blog Meditations in Motion to take part in the Quote a day challenge. I have been reading Laurie’s blog for a little time now and really like how she writes and what she writes about, particularly her accounts of the long distance running she does, which I personally find very inspiring. I wish I could be the kind of person who runs, but every time I try to do so I injure something. I am thinking I should consult with Laurie for some tips.

I think this is the first time I have been involved in any kind of blogging challenge on this blog, so this is a bit of an adventure for me. It is also, being a challenge, challenging. Here are the rules:

 

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days.
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day to do the same.

I am a bit concerned I am not going to be able to nominate enough bloggers as I’ve been a bit shy in making friends on here, and have a fairly developed sense of anxiety about imposing myself on people. I’ve also never been that big on ‘inspirational’ quotes – so will try to pick things that may have a peculiar meaning to me. But I will give it a go. Today I would like to nominate:

  1. Mrs Craft of the blog Craft and other Crazy plans. I love the way Mrs Craft writes about her projects, and her allotment – plenty of lovely creative stuff here.
  2. Scar of the blog Scar. This is a great mix of art, literature, and eating out in London. She was also the first blogger to take on the idea of writing about her own ‘objects with meaning’ which I liked very much, in this post here.
  3. A new blogger, and blog at Smwiddio. I have been watching the development of this one with interest and look forwards to reading more.

My quote for the day is this from the writer of the Game of Thrones series George RR Martin:

“We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

I really loved this quote when I read it in one of his books and it has stayed with me for some time. I think it speaks to my sense of what it means to be human, and the complexity that comes with building relationships with other humans. This is the stuff of life that sustains us, but it is not always an easy task and cannot be done without the occasional (some times more than occasional) heartbreak.

 

 

Posted in Inspiration, wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Objects with Meaning #8 – Glass Lantern

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This is a part of a series of photos of objects that have meaning to me. Want to know a little more about the origin of this project? Have a read here.

Fellow magpies, what objects have meaning for you? If you would like to join in and tell the story of your own objects with meaning have a read of this post, or post in the comments below.

 

 

Like what you see? I also make art. You can things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying.

Posted in gratitude, Inspiration, messy manifesto, minimalism, Objects with meaning, wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments