Health, Romans and default fonts

Quick question – Can fonts make you Ill?

When I started writing this morning I had a real problem with Times New Roman. (This is what happens when you are ill – you tune it some funny details in your life.)  But, look at it – It looks terrible on the page! – if you used it every day I think it would make you unwell and depressed. Apparently, you can do this, here’s how to fix your fonts forever.

And “New Roman”? Was that really a thing? Did Romans briefly re-invent themselves with new haircuts and tunics just before they withdrew to Rome and gave up their empire? It’s an amusing vision, but we’re getting off topic – a sign you’re a little off your game.

Still, maybe that’s why the empire faded out? – took their eye off the ball. Too busy with hair-gel when they should have been defending Hadrian’s wall. Many a great empire falls into disrepair because of a surprise attack by the narcissism tribe. A huge loss of focus and an era ended.

Anyway, I have recently had a cold. It’s been rubbish. As you can see, my brain is still a little scattered and I’m starting a whimsy about fonts instead of writing about Health. I’ve been really surprised how mentally disruptive illness can be. Drifting concentration is a sign you’re not well. Also, this week I have dropped things, lost my balance and coordination a couple of times, and generally been off my game and been overly frustrated and emotional about small challenges at work. These are all little signals from your subconscious that something isn’t well in the world of me.

Eating has gone a bit out of control too – suddenly my diet was besieged with marauding flapjacks, coffee and other nomadic comfort foods. Look out – you’re surrounded by increasingly bad choices, as the lost ninth roman legion once said (written in ‘Times New Roman, if they had sent a parchment scroll back to Rome about their predicament).

So after admitting I had a cold and needed to go down a gear, I moved away from flapjack based rescue food to a healthier recovery menu, started managing my caffeine intake and monitoring my paracetamol levels. I was starting to rattle at one point from all those pills – it’s another signal you need to make some changes.

Changing perspective for a moment, If you take a step back from it all, what are the stages of a well-managed illness and bouncing back from being in the pit of unwell?

I’m not really that ill in the scheme of things (some people have much bigger health problems – I acknowledge that) but here are five stages that mark my recent experience that you can use to shape (or plan) your recovery from ill health back to wellness.

Notice that you are not well

The first thing that happens is stuff starts to slip. My recent illness started with me feeling absolutely amazing one day and then overnight I noticed a real difference in my energy levels and my outlook. Energy and frame of mind went first.

Increased emotions, tiredness and your mental state goes next. This is not surprising as your body is busy fighting an attack, so energy and resources get diverted to bolster your defences.

For me this comes in tiredness and concentration at work, shortness of breath and increased use of my inhalers for asthma and loss of positive outlook in the morning. I’m a morning person, so it’s a notable change.

Like Poker, look for your own ‘tell’ when your health next takes a nose dive, so you can take control and adjust things for a faster recovery.

 Adjust your activity (invest in rest)

 If you’ve got an ailment, put a new thing on your To Do list – Rest.

Modern life is not designed for this, technology and culture and constantly interrupting us and encouraging us to do more, multi-task, connect, get involved, sign up, join up, just do IT!  This is not helpful when you are ill.

As a busy parent or committed manager, it’s hard to get out of many of your activities. but, you need to cut the pace as rest is essential for recovery. Athletes build this into their training programmes. You need to do the same.

If you can’t opt out of your schedule and take a duvet day, look for ways to dial things down. Leave work early, take a proper lunch break, put some self-care into your day. This might take some creative thinking, but there’s always some flexibility.  Find a way to put some fire breaks into your day.

Decide on the turning point

At some point in the last few days, I decided to stop being ill (afterall not an attractive destination) and start moving towards well again.

From conversations with people with a more serious illness, this is a key moment in recovery (minor in my case, but it did happen). Keep up your patterns of rest, but find ways to move towards your ideal state again. Focus on where you want to be in your language to yourself. How will you recover and feel better today?   Start some exercise again. Put down the flapjack and pick up a banana! Maybe buy some vitamins. Invest in health.

In change-curve theory, you’re moving across the threshold to thinking about the future at this point, in case you were interested.

Design a better state of recovery

This is another thing that isn’t credited in modern life. Do get back to it – phase things back in, but make some choices on what you restart – is this activity still good for you? Good to pose a few questions and take the opportunity to be selective in setting up your new schedule. What could you do to improve your health for next time? Maybe you’d recover faster if…

And think positive, take pleasure in just getting back to normal. Be a little grateful for good health again. Not everyone has this luxury.

Reflect on what you learned

Being unwell is (annoyingly) part of life and it’s important to see what you can learn from any experience or change of state or situation. Once you’ve recovered, use the opportunity positively to reshape a few of your practises and habits.

Here’s some ideas – why not try some of these:

Go mad and write a blog article (like I did), or be more minimal and at least note just your warning light signals on starting to feel unwell (so you can start your recovery plan) and what you did to fit in more rest, to bounce back.

You could also be more mindful of what you say in your head – are you thinking about not being well (a negative frame – so you’ve failed or lost your wellness) or are you marching like a purposeful Roman legion, down the road to recovery – a positive vision, focussing on better times ahead, avoiding less useful distractions.

Mine was a very minor illness, but these points apply to all recovery cycles. Noticing what you say to yourself, the warning signs and the tipping point for recovery are important skills. And look for the positives – take some time to consider if your default font need changing.