The War on Health
Crisis, war, threat, pain, distress. We are all under attack by the coronavirus. It’s a tough fight and targeted at our health. As our defence, we are forced into social isolation, from our friends and family, our daily routines and work practices. Our normality.
We may feel challenged by this imposed way of living but we can take heed from the new experiences it is bringing and convert the positives into lifestyle adjustments. This is a time to look deeper into our selves, to revise our beliefs and habits, our health & nutrition, our behaviour patterns, lifestyle routines, mental and physical and fortify our community spirit.
Our mental health is key to a positive attitude to our unaccustomed quarantined existence. This unscheduled period provides an opportunity to use time constructively for future gain as well as presenting an immediate sense of personal self-achievement. Social media resources have become saviours to this cause and are awash with informative blogs, humorous anecdotes and live theatre productions. YouTube demonstrations and webinars serve as valuable teaching aids while technology connects us with our friends and family, near and far. Whether its crochet, calligraphy or culinary skills, word puzzles and jigsaws to challenge the mind, drawing and painting to brush up on strokes or the ancient arts of tai chi and karate, there’s a link and site for all. As for DIY jobs which have been postponed over goodness knows how long, there’s now no excuse.
Exercise has taken on a new form too. For many, fitness was the domain of a gym, a room packed full of weights, treadmills, rowing machines and cross trainers or pilates and stretch classes in mirrored indoor studios. With the closure of these valuable social fitness hubs, comes the creative arrangements of home fitness spaces as well the nationwide campaign to exercise outdoors, taking full advantage of the fresher air and open spaces, dependent on where you are. Getting everyone out for daily exercise is a positive step to help physically, emotionally and mentally. It is, for many, a new habit and a time to appreciate the simple, yet natural sounds around of chirping birds, the stillness of quiet surroundings and nature’s changing colours and patterns which we so often take for granted.
Up until recently, our busy daily routines may have involved a coffee takeaway with a croissant on the move for breakfast, pre-packed sandwiches at our desks for lunch, a drink at the pub after work to de-stress and maybe a chicken tikka masala delivery in the evening. Today, it’s all changed. Meal times have become the highlight of the day, one that brings back some normality and routine. Meals require advance planning, not grabbing on the go, creations using raw ingredients rather than mass produced dishes. And with more time to prepare it is inspiring a revival of culinary skills whether alone or involving household members. A nod to the past maybe with homemade dishes of cottage pies and fruit crumbles using our grandmothers’ recipes.
Turning the clocks back to 1939, Britain acted in a similar way to a national critical crisis by panic-buying and stockpiling before war rations were imposed in 1940. It changed habits in eating patterns – sweets were off the menu; breakfast fry-ups were smaller and there was encouragement to swap bacon and sausage for a Scandinavian-styled breakfast of fruit and cereal. Fridges at that time were a luxury so dried fruit, cereal and chocolate were in high demand as were tinned meat, beans and biscuits. Natural products of dandelion leaves, blackberries and rose hips were gathered from country walks and hedgerows and added to homemade soups and jams.
During the Second World War the radio was the main form of news and entertainment and the BBC had the monopoly with The Home Service and The Forces Programme. As today, all theatres were closed and professional sports suspended. There were no video games or internet. Board games such as scrabble, dominoes and draughts, as well as tiddlywinks, marbles and hopscotch provided the source of amusement.
The shortage of sugar and grain affected distilleries, causing a scarcity of beer and whisky and when imports of alcohol were stopped in 1941 it changed drinkers’ habits. Rationing continued until 1954 but by then people adapted to changes and became accustomed to them, as we will.
After this challenging time, let us hope we will become a healthier nation with new, positive skills and patterns ingrained in our way of life. Keep well and safe. Help others to fight this war on our health.