By Jennifer Miles Davis
Yes, yes, I know I wrote last month about the benefits of a technology-free holiday. You weren’t expecting me to stick to it, were you?! The irony was not lost on my greatest critics, the children, who reproached me at every opportunity when they spotted me sloping off to the wifi area of the campsite with my laptop under my arm. It’s for my Writing! I would respond, bumptiously. And Important Emails! And Designing! (For the new Dunmow Players Youth Theatre – see ad opposite!) Which is ultimately for YOUR BENEFIT! Anyway, I argued, I’m doing something I enjoy, which surely is allowed on holiday? (Huff. Secretly checks Facebook.)
In any case, there was plenty of time for the usual holiday stuff, including one of my favourite activities – daydreaming. I am a self-confessed staring into space junkie. That’s why I love train journeys and deckchairs, and any other daydreaming opportunities such as staring at tall trees. In one of my more enthusiastic daydreams, during which I was as usual contemplating my inconceivable beyond midlife-ness and the state of my health and wellbeing, I thought perhaps I should try combining my predilection for daydreaming with exercising – “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking”, as Nietzsche tells us. Many great writers such as Stephen King head out for a walk every day before writing. This thought process led me to sign up for some out-of-character and rather ambitious exercisey-type things, aka running.
I think it’s the lure of the September ‘new term’ feel that has got the better of me. I’m not one to take things too seriously but I concede that it makes sense to get out more for a walk and maybe even a light jog, or perhaps a little skip if I’m feeling frisky. In truth this is partly prompted by the fact that in a recent quiz I found I have the same physique as an Olympic rugby sevens player, which would be impressive if I had even half the muscles to go with it.
Aside from the physical fitness aspects, it is well documented that exposure to natural environments has untold benefits to our mental health – and regular walks in fields or by the sea can go a long way towards reducing negative emotions and keeping depression at bay. (Don’t say this out loud, but even looking at nature through windows can reduce stress, enhance recovery from an illness, and improve mood.).
Furthermore, recent research published in the Body Image Journal suggests that regular encounters with the natural world also enhances self-esteem and produces a more positive appreciation of the body and one’s body image. This could be because when we get out and look up at the sky and towards the horizon, we feel a connectedness to nature, comprehend where we fit in as part of a larger ecosystem, and feel more fulfilled and rounded (no pun intended) and generally at one with the world.
So with that in mind, off I go. If you see me wandering about aimlessly, take pity, I could well be lost. As Ellen DeGeneres said: “My grandmother starting walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is”.
Midlife Musings is just for fun. In real life I copyedit academic journals and books, and write copy for brochures and websites. For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous Midlife Musings can be found at jennifermilesdavis.wordpress.com.