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Hobbies – keeping dementia at bay?

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In today’s world we are always busy, working, being at societies beck and call or just always having to manage life but we need to remember to put ourselves first. This life is ours to enjoy and embrace with all its intricacies and twists and turns. There will be many times you are sad depressed or even utterly in the depths of despair but doing something that gives you joy and is creative no matter the outcome can be hugely beneficial and transport you to a happy place for a while where problems and stress don’t follow. 

Hobbies can enhance your life, allow you to destress whilst still being mentally active and promote better health even lowering the risk of having high blood pressure. It can reduce the risk of depression and dementia. It enriches our lives. It is something fun with the opportunity to learn new skills. Todays technology opens a world of websites devoted to hobbies and interests. To suit every taste and interest. Why not try something new? The world is full of wonderful, exciting activities that we can explore and adopt as our own. Humans are all unique and, therefore, our interests and hobbies  should be vast and random but finding a hobby that we truly enjoy and are passionate about, we become fascinated and immersed in a whole new world that captivates us and brings immense pleasure.

There are so many  reasons why a hobby enriches a life, it can make you more interesting. Providing experiences and skills to share. Stress is relieved as you are absorbed in a task that fulfills and takes your mind off problems. You relax and lose yourself in an activity that doesn’t require you to think about work or complicated lives. The skills you will learn and develop will require patience which in turn is a valuable skill in life. Confidence and self esteem can flourish along with your new found skills enriching your life and eradicating boredom, ennui and lethargy. 

You add a layer to your personality and will draw people towards you. We all want to be around people who are interesting with a sense of curiosity, with stories to tell. You nwill feel more inspired when you have a rich and active life  and you will inspire others as well. This year with the Covid pandemic we have been confined to home in a way we are not used to and many people have turned to learning a new skill or developing a hobby previously denied to us in this mad busy and frantic world. New perspectives , challenges and opinions or ideas come with the knowledge you gain as you delve deeper into some hobbies through research or reading. 

The great man himself , Winston Churchill, said  

To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.’

He was known as a passionate artist amongst other talents. 

Personally I had to smile when researching quotes on hobbies when I came across this little gem and had I been more of a floozy  or not happily married I’d  like to have adopted!

‘Men are my hobby, if I ever got married I’d have to give it up.’  ( Mae West)

In today’s busy  society we may feel we do not have the time for a hobby however According to Parkinson’s law, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”  so where you may feel your evening should be spent working or completing chores you will get them done quickly if you have a pleasurable idea of your hobby to look forward to therefore seeming  to create more time by encouraging efficiency.

 

I know that my wonderful parents in law have always loved their respective hobbies , but  since the death of their son, my wonderful husband, I think it has been  deeply immersing themselves in these hobbies that has created a way to cope and lose themselves in the pleasure of creating. My father in law  Roger says it gives meaning to your being he spends many hours expanding his knowledge of colours etc to paint the intricate detailed and beautifully authentic models he constructs. My mother in law Yvonne knits furiously  all the time deriving great pleasure from gifting the most beautiful jumpers shawls and cardigans, nothing is beyond her and over the years there have been such unique and quirky requests that she has never failed to deliver, She feels the need to be useful and both gives and receives pleasure from her creative arts , I think retirement has kept her busier than ever with  her adopting my ready made  family into her life so graciously complete with lots of little ones asking for  creations of  fabulous personal jumpers with no request being too intricate or denied. 

 

So, what to choose as your new hobby? Maybe a desire to learn a new skill like learning to crochet, paint or learn a musical instrument.  Photography, a drone or biking ? Perhaps when the world settles back into a semblance of normality you will want to join a group, a choir,drama club  or book club. There are so many options out there that you might never have even considered…browse the net, talk to friends and find something you love… I found writing ! 

 

I'm a slightly deranged middle aged widow, living in the Cotswolds with two fabulously funny little dogs. A mother, grandmother, sister and friend. Determined to survive by writing to remember, to forget and to cope with grief. the memory of my husband supporting me, guiding me and probably laughing at me if there is a ‘somewhere’

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Herbal Medicine

How the ancient Egyptians used medical plants

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Of all the ancient civilizations, the Egyptian one was definitely the first of which we have a good knowledge of how they used herbs and plants for medicinal reasons. Sure, everything we know is a bit vague, but we have some ideas.

The first Egyptian physician we know was called Imhotep and worked for the pharaohs of the third dynasty, around 3000 years BC. We also know about him that he was an astrologer and had the ability to cure many diseases.

Obviously our knowledge is partly based on legends, anyone who was able to cure diseases was considered a magician and therefore seen as if an almost divine character, a magician and for his healing powers. But in general in Egyptian civilization, medicine and religion went hand in hand. So it wasn’t just the medicines that healed but the gods through medicines.

The concept of active ingredients, chemistry and pharmacology are modern concepts that were not found in Egyptian medicine. Another aspect of Egyptian culture that developed knowledge of the properties of herbs and plants was mummification. In fact, many substances that we use even now were used to mummify and perfume.

The interesting thing is the use of certain plants or natural remedies such as frankincense or myrrh (which would be the resins of plants and therefore require a little processing) which are still used today. They certainly used different essential oils such as peppermint, camphor and others that we also use.

Frescos have been found in Egyptian times showing the production and use of essential oils. Of course, even in this case everything was very much linked to religion.

Another thing we know for sure because papyri have been found, such as Ebers’s, which list the medicines that were recommended to a patient, were basically the ancestors of our medical prescriptions. Obviously not all medicines were plants, the Egyptians also used minerals as medicine but the majority were undoubtedly of vegetable origin.

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Grieving

A day in the life of a slightly deranged widow… The Ice cream

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It has been cold , rainy , miserable and days since I have seen a human being in person. I think for the sake of my sanity I need to pop to the shop and buy ice cream. I will get essentials at the same time of course but right now all I can imagine is ice cream. The problem is I don’t keep much in the house anymore, gone are the days visitors would arrive and I’d frantically whip up some scones or brownies. Gone the days Andy would say I fancy a brew , do we have any cake and Id say so what do you fancy and if there was nothing in the tin I’d make him something quickly. 

I don’t do sweet stuff, but just occasionally the human body seems to crave things and science proves this is to do with the state of our emotions. 

So donning clothes suitable to be seen  in public I tug a brush through my hair and decide not to check a mirror in case I decide it’s too much work before I can leave the house. 

Smugly remembering to pick up a shopping bag – seriously I have  a retirement fund’s worth of bags under the sink but I regularly forget to take them – I grab a couple of dog treats to throw for my babies and yell ‘’ bye! See you in a while, be good! ‘’ and head for the car. 

I start my usual routine, bag, check, purse, check, keys, check mask… bloody hell. I dig in my bottomless handbag and pull out a mask that really needs a wash. Ok…that’s not good, i am sure I have some disposable ones in the glove box. No… they are now strewn on the floor in the back from when I entertained my grandchildren while my daughter shopped the other day. They are now drawn on, ripped into animal shapes and screwed up to be pretend birthday presents. 

Ok…do I go back into the house and upset the dogs or try something else first, I’m starting to go off the idea of going out but I really do need milk ,bread and just to see another human so I dig in the boot. Yay! I found one. It’s damp and smells a bit like mildew because its been under a bottle of screen-wash but it will do. ok…I can leave at last. 

Eventually masked up, trolley sanitised and a pound coin found in the depths of my purse I wander into the shop. I weave my way through the few people in the aisles, its odd to think this time last year we thought nothing of slipping past people or bending past them to grab things, now we are shuffling like wary crabs to keep distance and as I allow people past or they stand aside ,  I smile forgetting they cant see my mouth so think I’m probably just staring manically.

I grab the things I need and decide that will be enough, I’m not enjoying being in public, it feels weird and uncomfortable somehow and I am not sure if it is because of the situation we are all in or I am just becoming very antisocial and uneasy, I make my way to the ice cream and look at the array on offer, All I want is pistachio but as I have never found it for sale anywhere I will have to make do with honeycomb. 

Food bought and back in the car, home and unload. I’m so relieved to be back. I can’t imagine why I had been so desperate to get out in the first place.  I grab a spoon and sit with the tub of ice cream and cuddle up with the dogs on the sofa. I turn on some music and can feel myself actually calm down . The sweet frozen yumminess is like a burst of sunshine and a jolt of something akin to actual pleasure goes through me.

This is why I am the size of a whale, I seek comfort in food. Food has probably always been akin to happiness to a certain extent  for me but now I can accept it is what I am turning to for that quick fix, food you can replace easily, You can have without feeling guilty,( unless you are dieting but that’s a problem we won’t go into at this point) and it doesn’t die on you…

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Grieving

A day in the life of a slightly deranged widow… The Knickers

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I think as I drive. Far more than I should and since I have been alone one of my main thoughts as I drive into town is that if I was to just veer into that tree for any reason I wouldn’t have to keep doing ‘this’ whatever ‘this; is. Now I am NOT suicidal or about to do anything silly so please don’t imagine I’m about to ! It just seems to be a thought that is compelling but very scary at the same time. I’d never do anything to cause my children and family pain and apart from that I have my dogs to get back to but still common sense doesn’t seem to come into my brain any more. 

I digress…  so today I was driving along the country roads and as usual I imagine the car hitting a patch of ice, a deer running out and I have to veer, the wheel suddenly flying off, a plane hurtling out of the sky towards me and I have to swerve…you get the picture Im sure and then I think, but  what if I survive! I will be taken to hospital and they will have to divest me of clothing and …OMG! I have recently not been mindful of one piece of advice I think we all need to follow, wear decent undies in case you get run over by a bus. My care when dressing has been woeful, I’m not even sure I get dressed some days unless I have to go to the shop which is itself quite rare but worse..

I need new knickers. The ones lurking in my drawers are well past their best and my ‘best ones’ are now my everyday ones. Now please do not think my best knickers are little wisps of silky lace…oh no. I’m not the size or shape for that sort of frippery! I look in admiration at the images of beautiful pert bums partially swayed in gorgeous items of lingerie and then scroll past to granny knickers. My folds of flab need some serious swathing and nothing less than something akin to a sail will do. I was brought up to believe that comfy knickers are the way to cope with life.You can’t concentrate and work well if things are not ‘sitting pretty’. Unfortunately in my case comfy knickers means apple gatherers or as Mum would have said ’harvest festival knickers’ all is safely gathered in! 

I spent the rest of the journey driving  more carefully and with caution as I contemplated the horror of arriving at A and E , horrific injuries ignored as the staff look at each other in horror and whisper about the state of my undies. 

Finally home I waste no time in logging in to my usual clothing sites, and view the offerings with a heavy  heart. I really want to see things in person  as I’ve made many mistakes buying knickers that are just not ‘right’ but with  the way the world is I will make an online purchase and hope for the best.

I look at lingerie , I scan sensible, I peruse pretty and eventually I decide, what the hell…I’ll order a few pairs of ‘nice’ but decently serviceable  and a stupidly priced ( ok there is enough silk here to have keep an entire silkworm factory in business for a year) pair of silky sexy decadent knickers that I will never wear because there won’t be a situation I need such beautiful undies for . But I will know they are there and I make sure my daughters know that should I ever be in a car crash please please make sure you go to my house find the perfect pants and wrestle me into them even if I have a broken spine before the casualty staff are allowed to examine me!

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