What I have learned about Vitamin D

What I have learned about Vitamin D

The first and perhaps most crucial thing I have learned is that it is called Vitamin D for a reason. Do not naively abbreviate it to both initials and expect to get away with it; if you tell people you are going outside to soak up some VD they will look at you with a mixture of disgust and alarm. This is an easy way to lose friends.

The second thing I have learned is that I wildly underestimated how much of an impact it can have on my health and happiness. The suggestion that fresh air and sunshine could improve my mood and increase my energy levels seemed improbable, and I was doubly dubious about taking this advice from a woman who claimed throughout my childhood that the ice-cream truck only played music when it had run out of ice-cream (thanks, Mum!). This all seemed too much like a clever ploy to get me out of the house for a few hours to be taken seriously.

As an adult (or someone resembling such) I have discovered that my scepticism was unfounded and, thanks to a quick search on Google, I now know much more about how it helps keep the body healthy and strong. For someone with pale skin like mine it is especially easy to get Vitamin D from sunlight; around 15 minutes in the sun is all I need on a daily basis. People with darker skin need more time in the sun to produce the same amount of Vitamin D and they are therefore at a greater risk of a deficiency. If you are deficient it will make it harder for your body to absorb calcium which could result in weak bones and teeth.

An estimated 40-75% of people may be deficient in Vitamin D and yet it takes so little time to get it into your body. If you have to stand outside checking emails on your phone for 20 minutes then do it! You’re getting your own work done and you’re still letting the sun do its job!

In the past I would spend whole days inside and the sun would rise and set, entirely unnoticed, on the wrong side of my window. (It’s worth knowing that, though you can burn through a window, you can’t actually benefit from the Vitamin D producing UVB rays, which can’t pass through glass.) Now I make an effort to spend time outside and it’s definitely improving my days and making a difference to my happiness. On my lunch break I used to move from the office to the canteen and back again but now I take my food out and walk for five minutes up the road to the park. I sit on a wall with a sandwich and a good book (or, more often, my phone) and watch the world and its dog-walkers go by.

Of course, we aren’t all lucky enough to work near a park but a few minutes in the middle of the day to soak up the best of the sun’s rays is all it takes. This can be done anywhere, even if that means a couple of laps around the staff car park. It may not be scenic but if it helps keep you healthy it’s got to be worth it! Even on an overcast day in the park I can still benefit from the sun’s almighty vitamin powers and I get a break and some fresh air so that I’m more lively and productive in the afternoons. Everybody wins!

Lernen Glück | Learning Happiness Through Language

Learning German Language Happiness

Now that I have entered my twenties and have already spent a number of years masquerading as an adult, I often find myself reminiscing fondly about the things I did at school. I always enjoyed learning and was lucky to attend schools that encouraged and nurtured my creative skills. I spent every lunchtime with my friends in the art room, finishing one project or another, while a never-ending playlist of our teacher’s peculiar taste in music kept us inspired. Fully indulging myself in creative pursuits throughout my schooling has defined me as an adult and I wouldn’t be a writer or photographer without the opportunities I had. It therefore comes as something of a surprise to me that one of the subjects I miss the most is German.

Ah, German! I struggled with French (perhaps I lack the necessary romantic streak) but German always struck me as pure logic and reason. It was easier to get my head around the sentence structure and I didn’t have to roll the ‘r’ sound – an almost impossible feat! Perhaps a sensitive subject in the wake of the UK’s referendum results, German is the most widely spoken language in Europe and is hugely important in business and science globally. Some of the world’s greatest pieces of literature and music have come from Germany and most (if not all) of the philosophers and classical composers I can name off the top of my head are German.

However, I’m not here to list statistics about German culture – as we begin the lengthy divorce procedure from the European Union I don’t want to create division or resentment where there need be none – but my opinions about learning their language are applicable to any you could choose. In our country we are woefully inadequate as far as learning a second language is concerned. Many of us rely on the prevalence of English across the globe and often expect other countries to compensate for our lack of knowledge. I am only fluent in English but having a grasp of German and continuing to work on it has already proven useful; recently I was asked to help translate instructions for defrosting a German freezer!

Not only is it a more globally responsible thing to do, to learn to communicate in more than one language, it can also be fun. Gone are the days when copying verb endings out of textbooks is the strategy for learning! Personally, my favourite way to continue my learning as an adult is with Duolingo. I have looked at textbooks to go alongside the study but for pure fun, Duolingo wins every time! Available on the computer and with free apps for android and iPhone, there aren’t many people without access to this platform. I love that they turn learning into a game; it’s competitive rather than repetitive. The app focuses on your skills and weaknesses, customising lessons to prioritise the areas you struggle with, and it provides a visual representation of your progress so you can see how far you’ve come!

Learning German Language Happiness

Free advertising aside, I know that not everyone has the time or the desire to learn another language but there are plenty of benefits if you do decide to give it a go. For one thing, learning a foreign language is really good for your brain! It can actually increase your brain size and make it stronger and better able to maintain memories into old age. For me, learning a language is relaxing and fun. I don’t do it religiously, preferring to keep study for when I’m really in the mood in order to avoid becoming disenchanted, but I try to make the effort pretty regularly. If you enjoy learning or have rose-tinted memories of your language-learning school days, I would definitely recommend it as a way to improve your happiness. Mental exercises like these are great to keep your brain healthy and taking ten minutes out of your day to sit still and immerse yourself in the language intricacies of other cultures can’t be a bad thing!

On a more serious note, if you are disappointed about Brexit and the uncertainty it brings about our future within Europe, learning a European language will be one of the best ways to increase your chances of living and working within the EU. The future is uncertain but, no matter the outcome, learning a foreign language is certainly something to be positive about.

My Neck Is Cold

Long Hair Donation My Neck Is Cold Brain Tumour Research Little Princess Trust Blonde

My first entry into this journal is not quite about happiness but of a growing optimism. Inevitably, in striving for greater life fulfilment, there will be times when I make decisions that don’t immediately fill me with joy. Some of the things we do for happiness, such as exercising towards a fitness goal or working long hours to ultimately land a dream job, can be unpleasantly challenging in the meantime. Other things will simply feel like the wrong decisions.

Today I completed a challenge I’d been considering for several years: I cut off most of my hair. I didn’t expect it to be so emotionally affecting – so painful. I’d grown my hair for nearly five years with the intention to one day cut it off and donate the length of it to charity so that children going through chemotherapy have better access to free, real hair wigs. In order to make the haircut even more worthwhile I asked friends and family to sponsor me on JustGiving and raise funds for Brain Tumour Research and we have so far collected nearly £400 and that number is still rising! I am so grateful for the support and enthusiasm that has come my way and for the messages of encouragement this morning as I was on my way to the hairdresser.

The end result, however, is bittersweet. It will take some time to get used to this new look and to find ways of styling it that don’t make me look like Justin Beiber, Peter Pan, or Hillary Clinton. The next few times I wash my hair I will use far too much shampoo and conditioner. I will keep putting my emergency hairband on my wrist, forgetting that it is now entirely useless. I will continue to run my hands over the back of my head and realise in panic that my ponytail is missing. I will reach to un-tuck my hair from my bag strap every time I put it over my shoulder. And, in time, I will grow to love my hair again.

I will remember the people who supported me with their kind words and donations every time I look in the mirror. I will think of the little boy or girl receiving a free wig made of my hair from the Little Princess Trust to help them cope through chemotherapy. These children who are so young and so brave and so resilient in the face of cancer. I will think of all the money raised to aid research into brain tumours and fight to save lives so that people like my Aunt have a greater chance of surviving. I will remember Auntie Ann, who was taken too soon and who also rocked short hair. I will listen to every person telling me they’re pleased I did it or they like the haircut. I will quickly begin to believe them.

Above all I will acknowledge that it’s only hair, it will mean much more to someone else, and it will grow back.

Visit my JustGiving page to read more or donate.