We spoke recently about how photography encourages me to walk in the woods more, an act which always brings me great benefits.
Photography is invaluable as a tool for maintaining good health and wellness, but of course it’s not the only one.
This led me to think about some of the other fundamental pillars I’ve constructed in my life to try to stay in good shape, physically and mentally.
As I discussed in the previous post, photography often serves as an excuse to go walking, but most of the time it’s an activity I enjoy so much anyway, I don’t need any extra persuasion.
I am perfectly capable of sustained periods of focus at a desk/screen, but do need walking breaks between.
At work I typically walk around the campus a couple of times in the morning and then mid afternoon, to break up the day, as well as a longer (20-30 min) lunchtime walk, as long as it’s not raining torrentially.
I also try to fit in at least one longer walk (1-3 hours) per week, sometimes two, and again when the weather permits we do the morning school run on foot, about 15 mins each way, most days.
Walking is such a fundamental human activity for me, that to go without it feels like going with air or food or sleep.
The exercise, the fresh air and the constant left-right rhythm works wonders in keeping me feeling in good health.
Another activity where physical activity reaps benefits deeper than just exercising your muscles.
I’ve had a daily yoga practice of some form since October 2010, so just over nine years now.
Aside from maybe one or two days a year on average where I might be unwell and not feel up to it (though on some of these I’ve just laid on my mat and gone through a very low key sequence) I’ve done it every day since then.
So currently somewhere over 3200 sessions.
Like walking, aside from the physical benefit, yoga is a daily habit that I’ve also tagged other daily habits on to – for example prayer, meditation, and gratitudes – which has made the ritual even more powerful, and something I can’t imagine not doing each morning.
As a kid, most music I absorbed was via my parents. Around perhaps the age of nine or 10 I started exploring for myself, and since then it’s played a daily part of my life.
As I wrote about the other week, these days I’m a Spotify convert, and the app has actually resulted in me listening to more music each day than in years.
Having the app on my phone I either listen on headphones whilst walking, sometimes at night, or while waiting for my kids’ extra curricular classes, on my bluetooth Wonderboom speakers for yoga and in the car.
When I want a higher quality experience, I broadcast it to our TV in the living room which is wired up to my trusty old Denon/Mission hi-fi.
I love that one device can go everywhere and I just continue from where I left off.
Currently, and for years in fact, my main preference is wordless ambient music (today I’ve been listening to Max Richter, Harold Budd and Loscil), but occasionally still explore “proper” songs, most recently Nick Cave’s recent Ghosteen record.
Again, music is such a core part of my life, and just feeds my health and soul, I can’t see how I’d manage without it.
Writing, specifically blogging
I consider that I was a writer long before I was a photographer, and told the tale of my first public poetry reading the other month.
For me, it’s partly just an extension of thinking, but more than that, a way to organise thinking that I can’t do just in my head.
Also of course it’s a way to reach out and communicate with others, a blog being an excellent platform for this today.
So because writing helps filter and make sense of much of my thinking, and enables me to connect with other people, it’s been a fundamental tool for enhancing my wellbeing, for most of my life.
For a privileged westerner in the 21st century, my life overall is pretty simple.
I don’t buy lavish stuff or get hooked on gadgets, I don’t indulge in drugs or alcohol, and I don’t really go out much at all!
As I’ve written about extensively, I have little interest in social media (aside from blogs and Flickr) and love the old fashioned form of blogs, and most TV I watch is in the form of a film perhaps once or twice a week.
The five pillars outlined above – photography, walking, yoga, music and writing – I feel go a long way to help keep me feeling pretty good, and able to deal with life.
I’m hugely grateful that I have the freedom and the opportunities to do all of them as much as I need.
How about you? What would you say are the pillars of health and wellness in your own life?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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