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Let’s face it, there are some days when we feel below par. Less than our usual – hopefully happy (!) – selves. 
 
Perhaps we wake up with our own little black cloud firmly in place which stays with us for the day. Or, sometimes, a bit longer. 
Other times, it’s much more transient. We’re fine one minute, a little down the next and then it’s gone. A small cloud that quickly disappears. 
 
When we feel low – particularly at this time of year, when we’re meant to be full of seasonal cheer – it’s all too easy to go into over analysis mode. Looking for the “why”. But often there isn’t a simple – or obvious – answer for our change of mood. And we end up beating ourselves up for the lack of obvious answers. Talk about being counter productive. Making life more difficult for ourselves. 
 
Over the last few winters, there’s been a marked increase in the number of chest infections, particularly Bronchitis and Pneumonia. While many different causes have been suggested for this – colder, damp winters and changes in the bugs doing the rounds being the most common – as yet there’s no definitive answer. 
 
Like many conditions with similar symptoms – such as Sprains and Strains, Dementia and Alzheimer’s – they’re easy to confuse. However, if you know what to look for, they are quite different. So, this week, let’s take a closer look at them. 
Life is all about choices. 
 
And, yes, we know this is something of a cliché (!) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true... 
 
Some are made consciously. 
 
When we stop and look at all the options before deciding which one to choose. Weigh up the pro’s and con’s of each one. Make an informed – or conscious – decision. 
 
Others are made by default. 
 
Perhaps by turning a blind eye to whatever it is until the decision is made for us. Whether by someone else or events making the choice for us. 
We often talk about the importance of spending time outside every day. Not only does it feel good to have a break away from the hurly burly of modern life, but natural daylight plays an important part in helping set our natural body rhythms. Often referred to as the circadian rhythms, they control many different body functions including the sleep – wake cycle, release of hormones, body temperature, eating habits and digestion. 
 
Before we go any further, let’s quickly dispel one very common misconception. So far as your body’s concerned, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a beautiful sunny day or a wet overcast one. It’s being outside in natural wavelength light that’s the important thing. You’ll still reap the benefits regardless of what the weather’s doing. 
 
There are some words we all seem to have issues with and are guaranteed to hit a sensitive spot. Perhaps it’s the negative connotations they seem to have. Or, they’ve been a buzz word in school / work / media / government / fill in the blank so we’re heartily fed up with them (!). 
 
In the case of the word we’re focussing on today, forgiveness, it’s more of a religious one. It’s seen as setting a standard that seems impossible for us, mere mortals, to attain. 
 
Dig out the dictionary – or do an internet search – and it’s easy to see why this word invokes such feelings. Its definition includes words like “exoneration, purgation, pardon, pity, mercy, clemency” with even “tolerance, understanding, leniency” sounding like a pretty tall order. 
 
So, today, we’d like to give a different perspective on forgiveness. One that makes it something we could actually achieve without super human efforts. 
It’s a myth of modern medicine that there’s a definitive test / investigation / scan to allow every disease / condition / syndrome to be conclusively diagnosed. And, once this has occurred, a treatment protocol is ready and waiting to address the issue. 
 
Sadly, this isn’t the case, with many patients failing to get a definitive diagnosis for their particular set of symptoms. Spending years in limbo trying to make sense of what’s happening to them. 
We often hear people saying it’s hard to be happy. Even worse, that you can’t expect to be happy. And this is usually followed by a long list of whatever’s going on in their lives followed by what’s on the news. 
 
While it’s true that there are always going to be things going on in our lives, we always seem to look for happiness in the wrong place. In the world around us, rather than within. If this sounds rather strange, bear with us, it’ll all make sense in a moment. 
It’s no secret that regular exercise has a myriad of health benefits, both mental and physical. 
 
Sadly, it’s equally true that exercise is a dirty word for many people. Often this can be traced back to those dreaded games lessons at school which put them off exercise for life. And, as someone who was always last to be picked for any teams – not to mention a fully paid up member of the “two left feet” club (!) – Elaine knows all about this first hand… 
 
What’s so sad, is that there are many different forms of exercise – particularly these days – which are light years away from those inflicted at school. And, even better, many of them don’t really feel like exercise at all. Just something that’s fun to do. 
We were asked this question the other day and it’s a great one to get you thinking about what you truly value in life. 
 
So, before we go any further, why not take a couple of minutes to answer it for yourself? 
 
And, for those of you who worry about getting the answer “wrong”, the good news is there isn’t a “right” answer. Phew, that takes the pressure off! It’s only about what matters to you and, you never know, you might learn something interesting about yourself in the process... 
 
Having posed this question to various people, it quickly became clear that people tended to focus on tangible things when first answering it. Not surprisingly things like their home, car or granny’s engagement ring were popular initial answers. These were quickly followed by their “significant other”, parents or a much loved “four footed friend.” 
Having answered the question of why joints “pop” a few of weeks ago, we weren’t expecting to be answering another one of those questions so soon. It must be something to do with schools going back; as we’ve been asked lots of similar questions recently, only some of which will feature in future blog posts… 
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