Fatter, or fitter?

September 30, 2020 · Print This Article

When Boris Johnson announced on 23 March this year that the whole country must stay at home, I’m sure he had little idea of the impact that decision would eventually have on the nation’s physical, mental and spiritual health.

For the first few weeks my wife and really lived it up. Spent our days cooking up a storm, trying out new cocktail recipes, binge watching the latest Netflix offerings. Another glass of wine? Don’t mind if I do! Chocolate, anyone? I wouldn’t say no.

Clearly, we weren’t alone. An article I recently read in the newspaper i confirmed what the scales had already told us. During lockdown, grocery sales went up £524m year on year alcohol sales rose 41% and as for chocolate, one firm, Hotel Chocolat, experienced a surge of 200% in quarterly online sales.

The British people were getting fatter and it seemed we were following a national trend. Something had to be done. So a meeting was called and a discussion had. Point one on the agenda? We’ve got to do something about this! Resolution? A strict lockdown diet and exercise regime.

I fixed up an old bike that was languishing in the garage and started going out for a cycle every morning. My better half took up running. Healthier food starting appearing on our plates. Alcohol only put in an appearance at the weekends. Chocolate? Well it pretty much stayed in the shops.

But the biggest change for me was the impact of a daily exercise regime on my mental health. It made me realise that staying in the house all day staring at a computer screen in daylight hours and a TV screen at night had closed down my world, making me anxious about every little thing, and depressed. I have never been depressed. The thing was, I didn’t notice how bad it had become until that combination of fresh air, sunshine and aerobic exercise every day began to work its magic. Honestly, it was as if I had been locked in a dungeon for weeks at a time, then discovered I had the key all the time. The key was me.

So that ticked two of the three boxes I mentioned in my opening paragraph. The third was spiritual health. Not so easy to fix, not even easy to define. You might say that spiritual health is closely related to mental health, but they are actually very different. Spirituality is a sense of connection, whether to humanity, community, Nature or a higher power, which many humans define as God. Good spiritual health is, in many ways, more important than the other two and its absence can negatively affect both. For my wife and I, going to church each week and connecting with that Higher Power kept our spiritual batteries topped up, leading to inner peace, harmony and balance, as well as a feeling of deep happiness that’s hard to describe and which even chocolate can’t replace.

Thanks to Lockdown, that avenue was closed off to us, as firmly as our church’s front door. What could we do? And then the answer came – prayer. You don’t need a pair of running shoes or a bike, although you can pray while doing either (just don’t close your eyes). All it takes is a bit of time, and we had plenty of that on hand. And the list of spiritual, physical and mental benefits attributed to praying goes on and on. It relieves stress, improves your attitude, is good for your heart, helps you to be more positive and has even been said to extend your lifespan. But what if you’ve never tried praying before? How do you start and what do you do? Well I recently came across a free app that teaches you how to pray. Billed as a “7 day prayer guide for those who are not religious and don’t go to church”, you can download it here: https://bit.ly/33eZRAF

These past 6 months have been challenging, but this period has also been a learning experience for me and my wife. On the surface, all our needs have been met and we haven’t wanted for anything. Yet at the same time, our physical, mental and spiritual health has suffered. It’s taken a bit of figuring out, but so far we’re getting fitter in all 3 departments.

Peter Mill info@because.uk.com


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