Working in a charity that works tirelessly to enhance the wellbeing of children, young people and families, and employees, I think it is important to also think about one’s own wellbeing.
I am sure none of us are as good as we should be about this, but it is worth considering, at least occasionally.
For a number of years I have aspired to be fitter, more sustainable and a bit thinner; I was always sure that would enhance my wellbeing, and maybe even allow me to live a bit longer!
I have a 20 mile commute to work, which in many ways is a delight; driving into the Lake District, glimpsing the hills, and Lake Windermere each morning. Whatever the weather, it is always a different and inspiring drive, delayed only by the odd tractor…. But lots of car miles, and sitting in the car for an hour each day couldn’t be that healthy. With the increasing popularity of commuting by bike, I have tried cycling but the distance and the hills have always defeated me getting into a routine.
Until last year, a friend proudly showed me her new electric bike. Due to a heart problem cycling around the Lakes had become unrealistic, but her e-bike had extended her cycling career, and she was passionate about her regained freedom. She still pedals, but the motor smooths out the hills. Great fun!
That got me thinking; could my 20 mile commute become realistic on an e-bike? After much deliberation I took the plunge, assuring my wife that I really would use the bike regularly and it wouldn’t sit in the garage for most of its life, and four months later, I am still regularly riding in and out of work, and what is more important is that I am looking forward to the journey each day I commute by bike.
So what’s it done for my wellbeing? At Brathay we talk about increasing resilience leading to enhanced wellbeing. Over and above being a bit fitter and a bit thinner, and feeling like I have reduced my carbon footprint a little, what is more important is that the ride to work and back is a chance to ‘be’, which I believe increases my own resilience.
During the hour, I can think about the day I have in front of me, or just gone, be they filled with opportunities or challenges. But the rhythmic pedalling and of course the whirr of the electric motor pushing me up those hills, is a calming, quiet experience that most definitely enhances my own wellbeing.
So whether you cycle on an e-bike or not, walk or run, my lesson is to find some time to recharge the internal batteries, the ones that drive our own wellbeing.