Have you heard of the CLANGERS? If you were older than a toddler in the 70’s or are a regular viewer of CBeebies today for the remake, then you may have heard of The Clangers (pictured). However I’m not talking about The Clangers, I’m talking about the CLANGERS.
C – Connect
L – Learn
A – be Active
N – Notice
G – Give back
E – Eat Well
R – Rest
S – Sleep
CLANG was originally a list of 5 key actions derived from a meta-analysis of 400 studies on wellness, and was designed to help people improve their wellbeing. 12 years later and studies are showing these key actions are as important as ever.
In 2018, Dr Phil Hammond added to this, neatly extending the acronym to CLANGERS. Each day add as many of these to your life and increase your physical and mental wellbeing.
C – Connect
Connect with other people, connect with nature, connect with your community, connect with yourself! It’s difficult at the moment during the coronavirus lockdown connecting with others, however for those that can’t visit friends and family, or have friends and family visit them, there are other ways to connect. There’s online video, telephone, writing letters or cards. We don’t need a reason for this stuff, apart from to connect.
Connect with nature. Even if you can’t get out and about, it’s on your doorstep, in your garden, out your window. Listen for the birds, there’s a lot of baby birds out there at the moment either chirping away for food or taking their maiden flights.
Connecting with community can also be tough at the moment as so many clubs, meeting places etc have shut down, but some new possibilities have come into play. The 8pm Thursday clap has turned as much into seeing and connecting with neighbours as it is a clap for our amazing NHS and key workers. Speaking of neighbours, do they need anything when you’re going for your weekly shop? Anything taken to the tip when you drop off the grass? This also ties in with the G in CLANGERS.
Connecting with yourself is probably the most important of all. How are you feeling? Honestly! How are you feeling? It’s ok to be worried, it’s ok to be anxious, scared, unmotivated, sad, depressed. Are you getting snappy, annoyed or angry? These are expected behaviours, but not what we want to be happening. Be honest with yourself, and if you are struggling, speak to a relative, friend, colleague or a therapist/counsellor. It’s what I did a few years ago and it changed my life!
Finally, here’s one of my favourite TED talks. It’s about a 75 year long study of happiness. You may find the result surprising!
L – Learning
Learning new things keeps our brains active, slows down the aging process, and encourages good health. You don’t have to sit with a text book and learn about conjugated verbs or algebra. Learning could be taking on a new recipe, learning 3 chords on a guitar, watch a documentary instead of a soap opera, listen to an audio book, do a crossword or take an online course.
The open university offer a huge range of free courses, take a look:
If like me you don’t class yourself as someone who can draw, grab a piece of paper and a pencil and take a look at this TED talk. You might surprise yourself, and there’s a great message at the end.
A – be Active
We all know that being active is good for us, but there are a lot of small wins we can make through out the day. If you can, avoid sitting down for too long without moving around. If you’re at work use the furthest photocopier, take the stairs, do 5 squats before each cup of tea. There are numerous ways to increase your activity. Pick a few and incorporate them into your day. Here’s a quick TED-Ed on why you shouldn’t sit for too long.
And a great TED talk here on the benefits of exercise for the brain.
N – Notice.
Notice who and what is around you. Pay attention to them, put down your phone, put aside your troubles and live in the present moment. What is wrong with this very moment? The answer is usually “nothing”. We worry about the future, we ruminate on the past and that is where our minds often reside. So try living in the present, even if it’s for a short period each day.
You may have heard of Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of living in the present moment. For more information on Mindfulness, see my page in the menu above under Therapies
G – Give Back.
Giving is a win win situation. It makes the recipient happy but also it can make the giver happy too, often being referred to as the helpers high. It doesn’t need to be expensive or even cost any money at all to give. We can give our time, buy flowers for a friend, a small gift for a family member, do a favour for a neighbour, bake a cake for colleagues, buy a coffee for a homeless person or give a smile to a stranger.
Think of something you could give, and someone you could give to. Decide when and where and see the benefits for both sides.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
― Winston Churchill
E – Eat well.
Easier said than done eh? so to keep this brief, I’ll suggest instead eating better than you do already (if you need to). Look at what you eat regularly and see if you can replace it with a healthier alternative. Here’s some suggestions:
Milk Chocolate – Dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa
Mid afternoon packet of crisps – A piece of fruit
Baked beans – Reduced salt & sugar baked beans
Can of coke – drink of water
Cheerios – Rice Krispies with strawberries / raspberries / blueberries.
Put more emphasis on fruits with breakfast and snacks and vegetables with meals. Change snacks to include fruits, nuts, seeds. Each healthier substitute is a small win, and small wins add up to big wins.
What can you do to eat better?
R – Rest
This is something a lot of us aren’t very good at. There’s always something that needs doing; fence painting, house cleaning, washing, ironing, cooking, exercising, gardening, going to work. But we’re humans, not robots. Humans are animals, and we are pretty much the only animal that runs around on our own instruction to the point of exhaustion.
I’m not talking sleep here, this is awake rest. (Sleep is next). Sit down, lie down, read, watch tv, listen to music, have a massage, take a bath, have a spa day. You can’t pour from an empty cup so take time to refill the cup.
If resting or the thought of resting triggers anxiety, then you may have relaxation induced anxiety. Don’t worry, this is a common condition and can be overcome with the right intervention. It is important to remember to rest, to recharge the batteries, and you will find that you’ll be more productive after you’ve rested.
S – SLEEP
A lack of sleep is one of the biggest issues we face in Britain today. It affects both physical health and mental health. Heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression are just some of the many conditions that sleep can help with. Also something that is vitally important for all of us especially at the moment as the coronavirus lockdown starts to lift, is that sleep helps boost immunity. If there was a free tablet that had no side effects, boosted immunity and helped ward off many other conditions, would you take it?
So why don’t we sleep enough? It’s down to one of two reasons. Either we don’t prioritise it enough, depriving ourselves of an adequate sleep opportunity (burning the candle at one or both ends) or we try to sleep but can’t.
If you don’t give yourself that opportunity to sleep, you won’t get the rest you need. As adults we should be getting around 8 hours sleep each night, and waking without the need for an alarm. If this isn’t happening, try going to bed earlier.
If you give yourself the time to sleep, but are wide awake as your head hits the pillow, there are many things to try. No screens 30 minutes before bed. Use blue light filters on phone, tablets and computer screens in the evenings. Dim artificial lights in the evenings, reduce or eliminate caffeine intake in the day. Practice mindfulness incorporating progressive muscle relaxation, limit the bed for sleep and sex only. No food, tv, reading, phones or other screens. If ruminating thoughts are your brick wall to sleep then try the above. If you have no luck, then get in touch and we can assess those ruminating thoughts and do a sleep assessment.
Finally a quote from Dr Matthew Walker, sleep researcher and author of the fantastic book – Why We Sleep.
“Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain. Many people walk through their lives in an underslept state, not realizing it.”Dr Matthew Walker
If you need any more reasons to get your 8 hours a night, watch the man himself in a recent Ted Talk.