Just a quickie today!

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

What would you like to see us cover in upcoming videos? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Let us know in the comments section on YouTube, or here on the blog.

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Love and blessings,

Chris Blagdon

lifelong learningHello, my dears!

Allow me to continue the Life-Changing Challenges series this week, where I share some fantastic challenges to undertake which will shake up your everyday life (in a good way!), introduce you to a new and rewarding activity or skill, and most importantly, show you you’re capable of amazing things.

When we get stuck in a rut, or bored with our routine, we tend to hear the same sorts of advice. Join a pottery class, or a walking group, or a bridge group. These new, sometimes forced, hobbies often don’t stick, or engage us enough to want to continue them. Sometimes we know we need something new and exciting in our lives… but we have no idea where to start! Where do we find that new focus and passion?

So let’s talk about the transforming effect of crazy, exhilarating challenges. It’s very easy to never really take big, fat risks, which means we cheat ourselves out of ever getting to enjoy those big, fat rewards. These are the kinds of things which if you dive into them headfirst, could change your life. If you give them the effort and commitment they deserve, they will pay you back tenfold in excitement, creativity, endorphins, new friendships or strengthened relationships and of course that wonderful sense of achievement and pride in yourself if you succeed!

There’s no age limit on adventure. So what will your next life-changing challenge be?

3 Thrilling Challenges to Expand Your Mind

Studies have shown us it’s true, one of the best things we can do to keep our minds healthy and happy is never stop learning and that lifelong learning might even be the key to happiness as we age.  Developing new knowledge and skills is not only good for our mental health in that it keeps us sharp, active, and promotes a sense of self worth, but it can even delay the onset of Alzheimers. And learning is so much more than the narrow curriculums we did at school.

That’s why today I’d like to suggest three exciting ways to challenge your brain at any age.

1. Become a Novelist – National Novel Writing Month

Ever thought about writing a book? NaNoWriMo is your perfect kind of literary madness! During National Novel Writing Month every year in November, people around the world (this year around five hundred thousand people participated!) try to write 50,000 words of a novel. Welcoming newbies, never-thought-I-coulds and experienced writers alike, NaNoWriMo makes writing into the ultimate challenge. Write 1600 words (or thereabouts) a day, attend local ‘write ins’ where you can meet other participants (or ‘wrimos’) in your city or area and write together. Cheer each other on, commiserate about unruly characters, and undertake a truly amazing task together. Need a little motivation? Check out how many traditionally and independently published books have been born in NaNoWriMo(And the word is, wrimos age 50+ have the highest win rates, too!)

2. Become a Master BookwormReading Challenges

Okay, so maybe writing isn’t your thing. Have you ever made ‘Read More’ one of your new year’s resolutions? Most of us have at one point or another. Here are some fantastic reading challenges to get you face-first into a book, and remember why you loved reading.

3. Get Qualified – Take a Course & Get a Qualification

Learning is good for us, and it’s not just for kids. Part of getting older is also realising that there’s no such thing as being wise only wiser! Taking a course or qualification is a great way to keep the mind sharp and active and immerse ourselves in truly fascinating new worlds. Whether it’s a qualification you never got in school, a niche college courseOpen University, or a more casual class, committing to learning a new skill or subject can be refreshing and rewarding. In fact, lifelong learning can be even more fun than our education as children, because we have total control over what we learn and how we do it – no more mandatory trigonometry or mind-numbing home economics. Always wanted to learn to paint watercolour? Take an Art & Design course! Fascinated by Attenborough’s Planet Earth? Explore biology and zoology for yourself.

Any of these challenges tempt you? Or maybe you’ve already got your own challenge all figured out! Tell me about it on Twitter, or share challenges you’ve done in the past which were absolutely worth it.

 

The Complete Life-Changing Challenges Series

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Love and blessings,
Chris Blagdon

Got time for a quick coffee break? Check out these four quick tips for taking good care of your neck, especially if it’s stiff or achey!

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

What would you like to see us cover in upcoming videos? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Let us know in the comments section on YouTube, or here on the blog.

TUNE IN EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW VIDEO

And hit that red subscribe button to be notified of new videos when visiting YouTube, or by email!

Love and blessings,

Chris Blagdon

Hello! Recently, I introduced a new topic to the blog: Active Ageing. I’m thrilled to introduce a new series on the topic: Life-Changing Challenges. Today, and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some fantastic challenges to undertake which will shake up your everyday life (in a good way!), introduce you to a new and rewarding activity or skill, and most importantly, show you you’re capable of amazing things.

1648_cepcWhen we get stuck in a rut, or bored with our routine, we tend to hear the same sorts of advice. Join a pottery class, or a walking group, or a bridge group. These new, sometimes forced, hobbies often don’t stick, or engage us enough to want to continue them. Sometimes we know we need something new and exciting in our lives… but we have no idea where to start! Where do we find that new focus and passion?

So let’s talk about the transforming effect of crazy, exhilarating challenges. It’s very easy to never really take big, fat risks, which means we cheat ourselves out of ever getting to enjoy those big, fat rewards. These are the kinds of things which if you dive into them headfirst, could change your life. If you give them the effort and commitment they deserve, they will pay you back tenfold in excitement, creativity, endorphins, new friendships or strengthened relationships and of course that wonderful sense of achievement and pride in yourself if you succeed!

There’s no age limit on adventure. So what will your next life-changing challenge be?

6 Exhilarating Ways to Push Your Body

Today, I put on my thinking cap so that I can share some great challenges to get fitter with you lovelies!
It’s the world’s worst kept secret that exercise is hugely beneficial in countless ways for keeping not only our bodies healthy, but also our minds. And that means for everyone, including older adults like ourselves. 

So why do we find it so difficult to get around to exercising sometimes? Lack of motivation is a common complaint when people are asked why they don’t exercise, or exercise more. Challenges where you’re fighting alongside other people, and working towards a common goal can provide that motivation, which is where charity events come in. Doing a little good as well as doing something awesome for you and your body? Well, that’s an added bonus.

Here are a few physical challenges local (or close to) Edinburgh which you could have a blast training for and undertaking.

1. Run – Fun Run for Charity
Fun runs, apart from getting you moving, have the added benefit of almost always being an unforgettably silly day out. Whether it’s the Jingle Bell Jog (everyone dressed as Santa) or a 5k around the Falkirk Kelpies, it’s a great way to get active and have a laugh, and you’ll often see participants spanning a huge age range. Run it, walk it, get as far as you can, and enjoy that pat on the back you can give yourself at the finish line.

2. Walk Moonwalk for Charity
Raise money for breast cancer and walk beautiful through Edinburgh at night! You can pick between a few different challenges: New Moon (6.55 miles), Half Moon (13.1 miles), Full Moon (26.2 miles), Over The Moon (52.4 miles).

3. Walk – Workplace Walking Challenges
More interested in a walking challenge which isn’t over in one night? Try a workplace walking challenge like Stepcount. Gather a team in your workplace, sign up and you’ll be given pedometers to compete with other teams to hit a footstep count (and get entered into a prize draw for your troubles). If you’re into your UK history, there’s also 10000stepsUK, in which your workplace tries to achieve 10k steps a day for 10 weeks, and as your total steps increase, your team moves through a virtual UK map on the website, giving you interesting facts and tidbits along the way.

3. Bike – Night Ride for Charity
The Night Ride is a fantastic one day charity bike ride event which takes you 50 miles around Edinburgh – see the sunset over the coast, cycle through beautiful Georgian streets under the moon and stars, and pass iconic sights along the way, including Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Castle, The Forth Bridges, Scottish Parliament Buildings and Holyrood Palace. A great reason to get on your bike and start training.

5. Bike Love to Ride
Love to Ride run cycling challenges with the goal of encouraging more people to cycle, and making cycling safer in our communities. Register to track your progress all year round, add your own goals and earn badges for riding. They have a Winter Riding Promo coming up soon, and in 2017 they’ll be running Ride to Work Week in March, Bike Week in June and Cycle September!

6. Climb a Summit Hills & Mountains for Charity
Not so interested in walking, running or cycling around the city? Get out of the hustle and bustle and challenge nature itself! Get sponsored and pick the charity of your choice, or pay a fee and just do it as a personal challenge and walk one of the UK’s hills or mountains (or a few of them!). You can even sign up for coastal walks over two or three days, and accomodation at night is included.

Any of these tickle your fancy? Or maybe you’ve already got your own challenge all figured out! Tell me about it on Twitter, or share challenges you’ve done in the past which were absolutely worth it.
The Complete Life-Changing Challenges Series

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Love and blessings,
Chris Blagdon

This week on the YouTube Channel, take a coffee break, and let’s chat about how you can bring Pilates into your everyday life.

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

What would you like to see us cover in upcoming videos? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Let us know in the comments section on YouTube, or here on the blog.

TUNE IN EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW VIDEO

And hit that red subscribe button to be notified of new videos when visiting YouTube, or by email!

Love and blessings,

Chris Blagdon

better sleepWe all know we should be getting better sleep. There’s nothing like a sleepless night to ruin what might have been a good day, and lots of us find that we can’t easily bounce back anymore from the crazy sleep patterns we twisted ourselves into when we were younger. Sleep is closely linked with mental health – bad sleep and insomnia can be both a cause and a symptom of other mental health struggles like anxiety and depression. I can tell you that sleep is important for restoring you physically, that it’s crucial for letting your brain process everything which happened today, for encoding memories (source) and much more, I can point you in the direction of ‘Nod’ a novel in which civilisation rapidly crumbles when most of the population are suddenly unable to sleep…

But you don’t need me to tell you these things. You know what bad sleep feels like. You know it makes you tired, it makes you irritable, you can’t concentrate all day, you’re more easily stressed. You know how different it feels when you get a full, wonderful night’s slumber and how much more energised you feel for the morning, and for the whole day.

Common Sleep Problems:

  • Not being able to get to sleep
  • Broken sleep, waking during the night
  • Waking too early
  • Oversleeping

Improving Your Sleep

Today I’m going to share tips in three main areas to look at if you want to improve your sleep. These tips are recommended by certified NHS mental health professionals and are taught as part of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy courses in Scotland. No person is the same. These are starting points from which to improve your sleep, but you may find some of them don’t apply to or work for you. That’s okay. Think of these as a baseline from which to work, and figure out what exactly you need to sleep well. This will be different for everyone. But if you are really struggling with your sleep, I recommend giving all of these a good college try. Don’t rule anything out before you’ve tried it. Let’s get started!

Time Factors
1. Routine
As far as possible it’s best to try to stick to waking and going to bed at roughly the same time each day. I know this can be difficult, especially if you work varying shifts – try setting your sleep schedule so you wake every day as early as you would for your earliest shift. It’s also key to stick to this routine even when your sleep is broken. Staying awake during the day after a broken night’s sleep and getting to bed at your usual time is more important than catching up hours, and will stop your sleep schedule creeping gradually later or earlier.

2. Hours
Optimum number of hours sleeping varies from person to person. Teens need lots, older folks tend to need less. As a general rule around 7-8 hours is good. There are a number of good sleep-time apps which easily calculate when to sleep to get your full sleep-time before your alarm goes off, or you could work it out with good old pen and paper.

3. Sleep at night
Unless you’re working night shift and have to drastically alter your sleep schedule, try to sleep at night and stay awake during the day. This means avoiding naps. If you are a dedicated nap-er, any longer than an hour is going to make you feel more tired.

4. Sleep when you’re tired
Try not to go to bed when you’re actually tired. Lying in bed awake? If it’s been more than twenty minutes or so, get back up. Do something active which will tire you out a little: clear out a cupboard, do some dishes or light exercise. Don’t sit and do something passive like watch TV or read. Once you feel tired, go back to bed. And repeat this process, even if you wake up again the same night.

Environmental Factors
1. Comfort
This probably goes without saying, but how’s your mattress? Pillows? Supporting your head properly? Is your duvet too thick or too thin for the season? Do you easily get too hot, too cold, or otherwise uncomfortable in bed? Do your best to make your bed comfy.

2. Light and Noise
Some people can’t sleep unless it’s totally dark and quiet. Some people can’t sleep without the curtains open or a low night-light, and the sounds of traffic outside or a muffled TV through the wall. Try to minimise distractions like these where possible.

3. Bed is for bed
(And/or sex, if that’s your thing). I know this one’s hard to swallow, but if your sleep is poor I really do recommend it. Don’t read in bed, don’t watch TV in bed. Your bed is for sleeping. If you enforce that, your brain will come to believe it. Your bedroom should, in an ideal world, be a peaceful oasis. The world is often less than ideal, but we can do our best. Screens are particularly bad for this – the light tells your brain that it’s daytime, especially blueish light from phones and tablets.

Physical Factors
1. Get tired
Keeping active and exercising in the day is the simplest way to make sure you’re tired in time for bed. There’s nothing worse than the antsy discomfort of having done nothing active all day and finding yourself restless by bedtime.

2. Food
Another simple one. Try not to go to bed hungry or overly full. Comfort is the goal, here. Tired and comfy = sleep.

3. Caffeine
Another infamous sleep-disruptor. Check your caffeine intake – is it reasonable? Are you overcompensating for lack of sleep? Coffee is best in the morning, and caffeine free teas are great for the late afternoon and evening.

4. Wind Down
A relaxing bedtime routine can be the perfectly thing to prep your body for sleep. Preferably set your alarm and finish up with anything you need to do that involves a screen around an hour before bedtime. You know the drill here: baths, candles, soft music, a few pages of a book (not necessarily in bed!), or a little meditation are all great ways to tell your body that it’s time to start winding down and getting ready for sleep.

That’s all for today.
I know, that was quite a lot of advice squished into quite a small space! Some of these tips are things almost everyone knows, but some of them are less so, and there are a few that surprised me when I first heard them too! Implementing these adds up to a pretty big lifestyle change, I know.

Don’t expect to build Rome in a night. Slow changes stick better. But if there are some things on this list which instantly stick out and make you blush (because you know your current habits could be getting in your way), think about how you could start to change those. If you pick one of these to put into practice and your sleep schedule improves? That’s enough.

Let’s chat!
Have you got your own trick for getting a good night’s kip? Which tip surprised you the most? Tweet me, and let’s have a conversation.

Love, blessings and sweet dreams,
Chris Blagdon

This week on the YouTube Channel, we’re talking about bad knees – if you find stairs, hills or getting in and out of the bath painful, this video is for you.

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

What would you like to see us cover in upcoming videos? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Let us know in the comments section on YouTube, or here on the blog.

TUNE IN EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW VIDEO

And hit that red subscribe button to be notified of new videos when visiting YouTube, or by email!

Love and blessings,

Chris Blagdon

morningsMornings really do set you up for the rest of the day. Just think about the difference between a day where you wake up easily, well rested, do a little meditation or exercise and get to watch the last of the sunrise with a cup of coffee, versus a day you sleep through your alarm, don’t have time to shower and have to skip breakfast to rush into work.

Even though most of us know we’d feel better if we got up a little earlier and did a few energising things, when it actually comes to the morning, maybe it’s dark outside, our alarm is going off and the last thing we want to do is abandon the warmth of our beds. The rational knowledge that we should get up and get moving can seem awfully weak. So how do we motivate ourselves to practise the habits we know are good for us, but just can’t seem to make ourselves do?

No matter how much we believe that establishing and engaging a new habit would be good for us, the idea of it can be so intimidating, that we can find it almost impossible to get started.

Figuring Out Good Habits
The first step is to figure out what actually helps energise us as individuals in the morning, and what things slow us down. How do we do this? It’s pretty simple. We make a couple of lists. The idea here isn’t to create a bunch of things we feel like we have to do, to add to our To Do lists, but just to get ourselves thinking clearly about which things make us feel good and which things make us feel bad in the morning specifically.

List One
List everything you can think of which makes you feel good, either in the morning or later in the day. Things which make you feel energised, motivated, excited, healthy, or happy. This will be different for everyone! Make sure you’re listing things which work for you, not things you think you should be doing but don’t actually make you feel good.

Some common things might be:

  • A five or ten minute stretching routine
  • A cup of coffee or green tea
  • Taking your dog for a walk, or just getting some fresh air
  • Having a particular favourite breakfast (especially healthy things like avocado on toast, yoghurt and granola or a homemade breakfast smoothie)
  • A short meditation
  • Morning Pages – freewriting three pages first thing to clear out all the brain clutter for the day

List Two
Now it’s time to list all the things which get in your way in the morning. Things which make you feel groggy, tired, bored, discouraged or stressed in the morning.

This list might include things like:

  • Figuring out what to wear / ironing clothes
  • Not having breakfast, or having coffee on an empty stomach
  • Waking up late
  • Not having time to do anything interesting or fun before starting chores or work
  • Walking the dog without having any music, audiobooks or podcasts to listen to
  • Forgetting to brush your teeth

Building Your Habits
It can be worthwhile to think about and mark the items on your lists which are a) the most potent (i.e. They give you the most energy, or drain the most energy) and b) the easiest and least intimidating to do.

Now, pick one thing from one of your lists, and figure out what the minimum possible effort version of this activity would be. Where would you start?

The hardest part is always starting. So make your whole habit just to start. Don’t expect anything more of yourself.

So if the habit you want to establish is a morning run, all you have to do, is get into your running gear and get onto the porch. After that, you don’t have to do anything else if you don’t want to. (But most of the time you’ll feel okay about going for at least a short run)

If your habit is having a good breakfast, maybe all you have to do is get up and stick the kettle and hob on for your eggs, or porridge. Once you’ve done that you don’t have to actually cook anything if you don’t want to. (But most of the time by that point you won’t mind anyway.)

If your habit is morning pages, maybe all you have to do is get a cup of tea, and your notebook and pen. After that you don’t have to write anything (but by then you’ll usually feel okay about writing a little.)

Commit to the first tiny fraction of your habit, don’t expect anything more of yourself. Lots of days you’ll go further, you’ll exercise or read or cook or get fresh air, and build up that energy and motivation for the rest of the day.
Some days you won’t. Some days you’ll do that first fraction and nothing else. And that’s okay! You’ll still have fulfilled your commitment to yourself, so you shouldn’t and won’t feel guilty for the rest of the day.

And if you’re finding it difficult, or intimidated by the idea of trying to establish a habit for an indefinite length of time (or even the rest of your life! How scary is that?) just remember that it takes roughly 66 days to acclimatise to a new habit, to change a mental pattern. In the spirit of committing to the smallest possible goal, try committing to your new morning habit for a month. Or two months. Because it will never be any harder to keep going than it is in that first stretch!

Let’s Talk
Comment below or tweet me and tell me about what morning habits you love, and which ones you’d love to establish! I’d love to know.

Love and blessings,
Chris Blagdon

Hello! Today I want to have a chat with you about Active Aging. What is it, and what does it mean for us older folks? It’s a topic we’ll continue to discuss on the blog in future, so let’s get started.

First, I’d like you to meet Eileen Ash. She’s 104, and aging about as actively as you can imagine! She’s been doing yoga for thirty years (and swears by two glasses of red wine a day!)

(If you click through to Facebook, you’ll see that some of Eileen’s children and grandchildren have commented on the video!)

These sorts of stories about ‘outlier’ older folks often pop up the news, and they often make us wonder if remaining as spritely as people like Eileen is something within reach for the rest of us.

Stereotypes About Aging

Mactive agingost of us are familiar with the common stereotypes of getting older – they usually include infirmity, a lot of time spent indoors and alone, and even feeling like a ‘burden’ to friends and family. First off, I’d like to unequivocally tell you: this is not what it MEANS to get older. This does not have to be our reality as we get older. Us humans are remarkably good at failing to extend our compassion and empathy to those in different stages of life than ourselves – the young rage at the old, the old grumble at the young, and every stage in between has it’s own foibles and misconceptions. You’d think because, universe permitting, we all are born as babies, and travel through the various stages of life at one point or another, it’d be easier for us to extend our understanding to other age groups, but we easily become wrapped up in the present and forget how we felt when we were younger, and (apart from hearing the experiences of our elders) we often have very little idea what the future holds for us as we age! This leads to exactly the above kind of misconceptions and misunderstandings about how we age.

The idea that most or any of us need to conform to the negative stereotypes attached to aging is just as reductive (and downright silly) as assuming that ALL teenagers are sulky, depressed and anti-social (a word which means something a lot more specific that we usually expect).

‘Aging Gracefully’?

Most of the older people we know fall somewhere in the spectrum between the passive, stagnant stereotype and folks as spry and energetic as Eileen Ash. So many factors can affect our levels of activity, energy (and ultimately motivation and happiness): illness, injury, work or retirement, our social circles, access to exercise, creative, mentally stimulating pursuits and healthy food and many more.

Active aging is my favourite terminology to use, because it’s related to the idea of ‘aging gracefully’ but more rounded. ‘Aging gracefully’ implies the alternative is to age ‘disgracefully’! What exactly it might mean to ‘age disgracefully’ is open to interpretation, but I personally dislike the phrase because it seems to put undue importance on etiquette (not kindness), following norms (not being true to yourself) and doing what is expected (not necessarily what makes you happy or healthy). One of the greatest benefits of getting older is that we start to stop being so insecure about ourselves, worrying about what others will think or say, and get better and doing what is right and good even if it makes us look a bit silly. And that’s why I choose to chuck the phrase ‘aging gracefully’ in the bin, and stick to ‘aging actively’!

What is Active Aging?

“Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.

Active ageing allows people to realize their potential for physical, social, and mental well-being throughout the life course and to participate in society, while providing them with adequate protection, security and care when they need.

The word “active” refers to continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs, not just the ability to be physically active or to participate in the labour force. Older people who retire from work, ill or live with disabilities can remain active contributors to their families, peers, communities and nations. Active ageing aims to extend healthy life expectancy and quality of life for all people as they age.” [SOURCE]

Common Characteristics & Activities of Active Aging

  • Volunteering
  • Maintaining and growing social circles
  • Participating in local community
  • Exercise & physical wellbeing (supporting the individual with whatever illness, injuries or disabilities they may have)
  • Preventative healthcare & lifestyle
  • Participation in creativity, spirituality, teaching & continued learning
  • Fostering a sense of integrity, self worth as an aging person

Further Reading

Here are some more things to read if you’re interested in learning more about Active Aging: (I certainly am!)

Active Aging Week
Active Aging Research
The Wisdom Years Documentary
Activity Theory (the scientific basis of Active Aging)
‘Successful Aging’

What do you think?

Let’s talk! What do you think about the idea of active aging? Does it seem a bit daunting or is the idea a bit of a relief? Do you have friends or family who are rocking their age?

Love and blessings,
Chris Blagdon

This week on the YouTube Channel, find out how we ‘wipe the slate clean’ after a busy day, and settle into focus on our practise.

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

What would you like to see us cover in upcoming videos? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Let us know in the comments section on YouTube, or here on the blog.

TUNE IN EVERY WEDNESDAY FOR A NEW VIDEO.

And hit that red subscribe button to be notified of new videos when visiting YouTube, or by email!

 

Love and blessings,

Chris