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Breathe Magazine – Issue 57

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In this issue: Golden glory – Threads of time – If you don’t ask… – Hidden from view – The middle way – Body talk – The sting of the second arrow – Heady scent – Inner workings – New kid on the block – Out for a stroll

‘Look after yourself.’ How many times must this phrase be used every day, whether as a casual sign-off to a chat with a friend or a heartfelt plea to a troubled loved one? It’s mostly well-intentioned, kind, genuine. And it seems straightforward. How difficult can it be, after all, this ‘looking after yourself’? Well, like many things, it’s complicated. For some, it’s easy, others find it hard, most are somewhere in the middle.

The physical aspects might seem discrete and undemanding. Eat a nutritious diet, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, engage in physical activity. Yet often these basic needs go unmet, unrecognised even until they become extreme – a painful back after sitting for too long in an awkward position, a raging thirst having gone for hours without liquids.

Step forward digital reminders to walk, drink, take a screen break. And that’s all good. But they’re largely one-dimensional. They can’t decode the body’s messages. They can’t know, for example, if fatigue equals stress or a bad night’s sleep or whether a racing heart equals worry or excitement. That takes human knowledge, personal knowledge, which comes from actively listening to the body’s signals, developing a greater understanding of what they mean and learning what actions might be taken to prevent them becoming problematic, for both body and mind.

The physical aspects of ‘looking after yourself’ are neither discrete nor undemanding. They’re more closely connected to emotional and mental health than often imagined. And while digital reminders can have a role to play in serving them, perhaps it’s wise not to relinquish the lead.

Cover Illustration: Lylean Lee

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