Sunday, 19 July 2015

Learning a language

Last year I went on holiday to Tenerife and funnily enough it was travelling here that inspired me to learn a language. We did the stereotypical tourist thing of going on a coach trip. It was to the volcano on the island called Mount Teide, and was a very interesting day.
I was particularly impressed by the tour guide. He could speak english, french, german and italian which is incredible really, I do admire a polyglot. He was rattling off the facts about the mountain in all of these languages like nobodies business; and it made me think if he can speak four languages then surely I can manage to learn one.

I decided I'd like to learn french, as I find the language and culture interesting - it just took my fancy really. Funny that a trip to a spanish island inspired me to speak french but there you go, sorry Spain! I've been learning for a year, and it has been a really fun hobby that I enjoy. I'm nowhere near fluent yet but I'm not giving up.

I do amuse myself though, there's a certain amount of irony to learning a language when you are afraid of talking to people (hello social anxiety) but that just adds to the challenge. If nothing else I have really enjoyed absorbing a bit of the culture, watching french films and tv and listening to french music. I would love to be able to get to the point of being able to read a novel.
I can always start with Le Petit Prince!

Something that surprised me when I started learning was that I know nothing about grammar! It's not something you might immediately think of, but learning a new language helps you to understand your own better. It's also good for the old brain box, with studies showing that it helps to improve memory, multi-tasking and decision making skills.

I would definitely encourage other people to learn a language, it's such a useful skill to have. I recommend checking out it's an amazing free resource with a selection of different languages to learn, you can access it online or as an app. 

I'm thinking a trip to Paris is on the cards, I'll try and be brave and speak to a few locals!

A bientot!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Mental Ilness, where are we going wrong?

Modern life can be stressful. We are living in a time where 1 in 4 british adults suffer from mental illness, and emotional mental disorders are a leading cause of disability worldwide. So where are we going wrong?

Human beings have evolved to be social animals, with these social bonds proving to be highly important and essential to our survival. Much of the world's population now live in over populated cities, but yet more and more people are living alone. Unsurprisingly these conditions are harmful to us and our mental health. After all, many prisoners have said the solitary confinement is akin to torture.

Society also adds to this, with research stating that mental health problems are more prevalent in unequal societies. With problems such as low income, poverty, unemployment, poor housing and low levels of education and the vast gulf between this and the rich getting richer, it certainly gives you pause for thought.

People at the margins of society are finding themselves increasingly isolated.

I think there is a stigma attached to lonliness which is why I think it's important to talk about it, the people affected by these issues are often hidden and don't have a voice.

However there are things we can all do to do help. It is such a vast issue, but even small things such as supporting mental health charities, taking the time out of your day to talk to a vulnerable friend or neighbour, or campaigning towards creating a more fair society are a step in the right direction.
Here are a few charities that may be of some interest:

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Benefits of Mindfulness

For the past few months I've been doing a lot of reading into mindfulness, which is typical me really, do a lot of reading and resarch, but then not so much putting things into practice.
I've bought this very handy little book called Mindfulness on the go, by Padraig Moran, and so far it's been very eye opening. There are so many little moments each day, where you can just stop a moment and focus on what you are doing, or even just take a few breaths. I would reccommend it to any minfulness beginners, as it gives you easy tasks that you can incorporate into your life - no sitting in the lotus position for an hour at a time!

So, what are the main benefits of mindfulness?

It allows you to take a step back from yourself and observe what is going on around you and in your mind, without judgement. Ever been in a bad mood and not really know why? Mindfulness can help you understand yourself better and increase self awareness.

It will probably come as no surprise to you that it can also improve mental wellbeing. Taken from the NHS UK website, "Studies have found that mindfulness programmes, where participants are taught mindfulness practices across a series of weeks, can bring about reductions in stress and improvements in mood." This reduction of stress is also very beneficial to physical health.

It can also reduce pain in chronic pain sufferers, improve memory, creativity and attention span.

All in all it's well worth doing, something that I need to gently remind myself of, without judgement of course! So for this week, I'm going to take a few exercises from my book, and do them each day, easy.