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Well being - help with keeping your mind healthy

Dr Brenda Dawes-Burritt (Psychologist)

1 June

While I was ill I got to thinking about all the things I had to do. Everyone these days seems to have an endless list. Cooking, cleaning, planting seedlings, trying to take over the local village newsletter, renewing car insurance, selling coutryside-themed tat to tourists, etc.

And I have been wondering why? After all, much of what we do is not necessary. In one respect, we'll all be dead before long, and history won't remember our petty achievements. So why bother doing anything? Once you have saved enough to feed yourself and buy the daily bottle of sherry, why keep working?

Well, some will say that people define themselves by their work. If they stopped their little projects and daily tasks, not only would they end up sitting amongst a messy pile of take-away boxes but their self-esteem would become hollow. People gain a level of self-worth by being able to say I am a handywoman or similar. I think this is the basis of Marx's communism - which of course has repeatedly been proved to be correct, hasn't it.

Defining yourself by your actions is all very fine but surely you don't want to define yourself by all the boring stuff? Why do that sort of thing - the basic daily chores? If you don't clean the living room today it will be fine and people rarely go to bed at the end of the day delighted that the purpose of their existence is having a clean living room.

Having thought a bit about this and done some research, I think the best advice I can give to help you justify doing anything at all, is boredom. We are all designed as animals to get bored. If you have no hobbies or activities - you will become bored and that has a provable health impact. Bored people die quicker because they cling less determinedly to life.

So, for health reasons, have a hobby. But make it something you find fun. Do only the minimum of cleaning to avoid the growth of bacteria in your fridge and spend the time saved doing something entertaining to distract yourself from the pointlessness of life.

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