It all started with my slipper……and then there was my dad, my dog, my mum, my daughter, my son, my college friends, even a favourite uncle……..there were others too……my phone, a remodelled kitchen and some grumbling gadgets ….and now its about my patients, almost every week! Who knew that my life, whaich, by my own admission, is extraordinarily ordinary could arouse interest and make me feel accomplished.
Till a year ago I felt that I excelled at one liners. Witty, sarcastic and obliquely insinuating remarks seemed to be my forte. So much so, that my entire body of work consisted of nasty comments on social media . Then one day, I decided to change that and so ‘My Cinderella story’ was born. I wrote it over a month in fits and starts, almost abandoning it midway. But it felt good once It was complete and got an encouraging response from my peers. Then came the suggestion to try to get it published as a middle. And along with it, a friend’s offer to walk me through the convoluted paths of the publishing world. He helped me c ompose the forwarding letter and submit it to Tribune assuring me that they would respond even if they decided not to carry it. Surprisingly, they did.
Every step of this journey; from the initial attempts at word play to make snide comments, the casual musings about favourite people and experiences to the more disciplined effort which this column entails, has given me happiness. This has changed my life or at least my perspective of it . My nest doesn’t seem that empty and my abode that secluded. My problems don’t overwhelm and my aches and pains are gone. I feel more energetic and at peace with myself.
So what is this nugget of information doing in my ‘ medical’ column? I just wanted to reiterate that in the humdrum of living we often forget to feel our own pulse and analyse what we truly enjoy. To cultivate hobbies which stimulate and gratify, reduce stress and impart a feeling of accomplishment. People who lead dull, uninspiring lives may actually be under-stimulated. Hobbies, for them, provide a source of eustress, the healthy kind of stress which when voluntarily invoked makes life exciting and fulfilling. Those who have an exceptionally busy schedule benefit from the “me-time” spent in doing something they love. It prevents burnout and helps to bring sanity in the chaotic cacophony. And because hobbies are typically productive there is no guilt of wasting time.
Hobbies which require learning and mastering a skill help create a new identity. True aspiration produces effort that feels gratifying rather than gruelling. Gratifying hobbies present a challenge that requires the usage of one’s best personal skills and engage people in a near-meditative state where they lose track of time and forget the stress of life. Creative pursuits like painting, singing etc are established stress busters. A study conducted in Kansas proved that playing the piano apart from stress also relieved arthritic pain and improved ranget of motion, strength and dexterity.
That hobbies help emotional well being is a well known fact but they also promote physical fitness like lessening fatigue apart from offering health benefits like lowering the blood pressure, staving off heart disease and depression. Relaxation causes happiness which activates the parasympathetic system and puts the entire body in a restful state. Lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisoyl indicate that hobbies relieve chronic stress and increased level of serotonin make one feel optimistic.The New England Journal of Medicine confirms that hobbies promotes brain growth and prevent mental debility and memory loss in the aged. A Mayo Clinic study of over a thousand participants revealed that those who read, enjoyed a craft or played computer games lowered their memory loss by 30-50 % and lessened their chances of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
I could go on but let me end by saying that reading my pulse has worked for me. It will work for you too so go ahead, feel it and follow your heart. Not only for yourselves but for those around you, for only when you feel good can you radiate positive energy and bring happiness to others
(published in Reading the Pulse ,Sunday Tribune on 20/12/15)