Yesterday was National Poetry Day and BBC Breakfast trumped again in the ‘fascinating’ ratings with their feature on the power of rhythmic prose when it comes to managing stress, anxiety and even depression.

Apparently, poems can help people to express thoughts and emotions, in clever and relatable ways, referred to by Anthologist Ana Sampson as a ‘digital detox’

We all know Shakespeare was a famous poet but did you know that his modern day rep is Stormzy – along with many other rappers who use rhyme and rhythm to help them express their thoughts and feelings about ‘stuff’ going on in their lives?

This year’s theme is Truth and yesterday was all about encouraging people to express themselves and speak their own truth. And Poet, producer and mental health campaigner Charly Cox has certainly spoken her truth over the years…she used to spend up to 10 hours a day on her mobile ‘phone as a means of escaping her miserable reality from the battlefield of anxiety and depression. Having discovered the power of poetry as a means of positive escapism – time to consciously slow down, digitally detox and be mindful – she now uses her time and her mobile device to write poetry to help her cope with her anxiety.

BBC News also reported the fascinating fact that poetry can not only access the more creative parts of our brain but also aids memory, so reading (and writing) poetry is proving to have positive benefits in both managing AND reducing the onset of dementia.

Charly Cox’s collection of poems is called She Must Be Mad – well clearly not if this research is anything to go by!

I have to surmise then, that my own Mum’s weekly dose of Poetry Hour, which she has on a Tuesday evening downstairs in the lounge with her ‘flatmates’ is actually a well-thought out, researched activity for this prestigious independent living establishment – because the ‘old’ girls (and some of the ‘old’ guys) LOVE their weekly poetry fix! They choose a different theme each week and surf the net (or the library) to find a suitable poem for the theme; learn it off by heart and then recite it on the night. Interestingly, there’s not the slightest chance of my Mum (or anyone else living in that apartment block) going ‘fruit-loop’ anytime soon, so I guess those weekly recitals must be having some seriously good health benefits for her and her posse! Either that, or it’s Wednesday’s gin & tonic afternoon (or Friday’s cheese & wine night) that’s keeping them all so on the ball.

Thought I’d finish this week on a little poem myself, given it was National Poetry Day yesterday and it’s a poem that we ALL need to be reminded of every now and then – because this particular poem really DOES have some seriously good health benefits in its lyrics. Smiling has been scientifically proven to release those feel good endorphins of Dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin – AND it does take 38 muscles to frown and only 6 to smile, so we really ought to be saving energy and doing a lot more smiling anyway!

Enjoy the poem – and SMILE!

Smiling Is Infectious

(Author Unknown)

Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realised
I’d passed it on to him.

I thought about that smile,
then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine
could travel round the earth.

So, if you feel a smile begin,
don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!

smiley ball.jpg Until next time – keep FIT!

Marie X

Hello... I'm Marie Cross

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