May Health Challenge
How is April’s Health Challenge going? It appears that the radical, transformative power of Spring has really taken hold this year for Chris Packham at the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in London! There’s still a week or two to harness Spring’s energy and be part of whatever change you want to see in the world.
As May gets underway, the vigorous thrust of Spring begins to relax and open out towards Summer. Instead of green shoots rushing skyward, we see plants basking in sunlight, unfolding their leaves like a sunbather’s limbs. There’s something more relaxed – more joyfully sociable – about May.
May also brings curiosity. Fledgling birds begin exploring the world in greater numbers as clematis tendrils venture into new territory. May is a time for exploration that commences the ramp up towards Summer’s social crescendo.
WHAT TO DO
First, get curious. What latent interest has been bubbling under the surface over the Winter months (or further back). Maybe you’ve been pondering Cirencester’s Roman roots or how to grow giant veg. Have you ever fancied giving glassblowing, needlework or furniture making a go? Perhaps tai chi, science fiction, bell ringing or miniature railways make your ears prick up. Is there another language you’d like to speak or instrument you’d like to play? What is it that sparks that happy little thrum of curiosity inside you?
Second, find a group with the same interest. It may be a club, a society, a regular class, a course or some other regular gathering. The key is to find people who share your fledgling interest. Cirencester’s Town Council website has a useful ‘clubs and societies’ page. Otherwise, good old Google is likely to come up with the goods.
Third, have an adventure! Go along to the group or gathering as often as you can throughout May. Even if it feels awkward or isn’t what you expected, persevere. It won’t be long before you feel part of the group and someone newer turns up.
WHY ITS GOOD FOR YOU
Learning something new and socialising are two of the most powerful ways to keep brain and body healthy. According to the US charity Alzheimer’s Association, “a number of studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as we age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's”.
This meta-analysis of research into links between social interaction and health found that “stronger social relationships were associated with a 50% increased chance of survival over the course of the studies, on average.” This makes our social lives as important to our health as stopping smoking!