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A Blog by Lunebase
Feel Good Story

17 year-old blind athlete and TikTok star takes Paralympic swimming gold

Sometimes your hobbies can take you far further than you might expect them to.

Anastasia Pagonis is a prime example of how commitment to a leisure activity can take you to incredible new heights, even while overcoming adversity. Though her eyesight started to diminish around age 11, Pagonis continued with her passion of swimming.

At first, she struggled to maintain her usual form, sometimes “struggling to make it across the pool without bumping into a lane”. However, Pagonis maintained a consistent schedule, and by connecting with her coach, Marc Danin, she was able to overcome not only her own hardship, but her competitors.

In fact, Pagonis recently made history at the Paralympics by setting a new world record in the S11 400-meter freestyle at 4 minutes and 54.49 seconds, a full 10 seconds ahead of the second-fastest swimmer.

Equally impressive is the other side of Anastasia’s fame. Before attending the 2021 Paralympics, she was already well known to millions as a TikTok star, answering often mundane questions around her physical disability.

While you may not fancy yourself as a TikTok celebrity, there’s a lot to be said for following your passions through – you never know where they might lead you!

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Spotlight

Finding happiness in hobbies

The past month at Lunebase HQ has brought with it a new hobby for one of our founders, Aaron. Keen to prove to his young sons that he’s still as young and hip as ever, Aaron’s been tearing up the streets on his new surfskate (actual footage of Aaron in action 👀).

What is a surfskate you might ask? Simply put, a surfskate is a skateboard for surfing the street. Surfskates use special trucks that enable riders to mimic the feel and flow of a surfboard.

Many of us would call leisure time one of the most important for our wellbeing. It gives us time to focus on something we enjoy, so that we can relax, refresh and recharge.

But what is it about taking up a hobby that makes it so exciting and beneficial?

The benefits of hobbies are well studied, and include:

  • Better physical health. People who scored higher on the enjoyable activities test had lower body mass index, smaller waists, lower blood pressure, lower stress  hormones and better overall physical function.
  • More sleep. While you may think that a hobby will take up too much of your leisure time or cut into your sleep, it’s proven to be the opposite, aiding in more positive and restful sleep.
  • Lower stress. Try crochet to cut the cortisol.
  • Happiness. People who often participate in activities they enjoy tend to have greater life satisfaction, and feel their lives have a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
  • More friends. Spending more time on hobbies and leisure pursuits was associated with having a larger and more diverse social network.

Creative outlets outside of work also make for improved performance in your day job. A study of 430 workers found that having a hobby gave workers a chance to recover from the demands of their jobs, increase their sense of control, and become better at creative problem-solving while working.

(Our tip: Don’t pick a hobby just because it will help you at work! Pick a hobby that makes you happy, any other improvements will be just a bonus.)

When was the last time you tried a new hobby? How about a surfskate?

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Spotlight

Five top tips for living green

There’s no debate about human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases being the biggest driver behind climate change. Recently, climate change has again made the headlines in the wake of a newly-published UN report on global warming, which some environmental experts have dubbed “our final wake-up call”.

This fresh press has got us thinking… 🤔

The science is clear. Earth surface temperatures are rising, and extreme weather phenomenon are either increasingly likely or already happening. We’re concerned. Here at Lunebase, we’re proud to be fully powered by renewable energy. And while we understand that the actions of the few outweigh those of the many – Oxfam reports that the world’s richest 10% cause double the CO2 emissions of the poorest 50% – we also recognise that every individual has their part to play in helping the planet, and collective action is the only way forward.

But what does the science say are the best steps we can take to reduce our carbon footprint?

First, let’s look at the numbers. On average, the UK contributes 12.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide (equivalent) to the atmosphere, per person, per year.

And if we break that down in terms of the impact of daily activities, we can see how individual adjustments can, collectively, make a huge impact (thanks BBC):

Read on for our take-home top tips for reducing your carbon footprint:

  1. Avoid the car wherever possible, or trade it in for a shiny new Tesla.
  2. Try to adopt a plant-based diet, or where possible, reduce your consumption of meat and dairy.
  3. Long-haul flights should be the exception, not the norm. If travelling to the continent, try the Eurostar!
  4. How well insulated is your loft? Not only will this one benefit your carbon footprint, but we all enjoy shaving a few pounds off the heating bills.
  5. Speaking of which, how about replacing your gas boiler with an electric heat pump? They’re set to be a key part of the UK government’s plan to make UK homes greener over the next decade.

Wellbeing Champions Newsletter

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Feel Good Story

10 year-old diagnosed with rare eye disease that left him blind is now training for England

Mikey Poulli has been a football fan for as long as he can remember. He cheered for Arsenal from the stands played for his local club from the age of 5, with dreams of becoming a professional footballer.

This all turned upside down for Mikey after a routine eye test at age 6 revealed he had ‘Rod Cone Dystrophy’, a very rare, incurable eye disease that in most cases eventually leads to blindness.

By the end of the next season, Mikey’s vision had deteriorated to the extent that he was officially legally blind.

But despite the devastation for Mikey and his family, he was not deterred. Mikey attended sessions for Visually Impaired Football, where the specialist coaches immediately recognised his talent.

Mikey now trains with England, and videos of his incredible talent have gone viral online. His achievements are proof that adversity in any form can be overcome!

We’re looking forward to the day we can see Mikey help it coming home… ⚽

Spotlight

To mask, or not to mask? That is the question

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, countries around the have introduced laws forcing people to wear face masks and coverings in public places, and workplaces, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

From the 19th July, Boris Johnson has confirmed that these mandatory requirements are to be halted in Englandand we will move from a “universal government diktat to relying on people’s personal responsibility”.

But what does this mean for commuters and busy workplaces up and down the country? What will be the new status quo? How might we enjoy thew3 new freedoms, whilst still respecting the wishes and concerns of others around the risk of transmission of Covid-19?

After all, vocal groups have been very strongly debating the pros and cons of compulsory mask-wearing for months prior to the new guidance. Which, in itself, introduces a lot more room for personal opinion into the debate.

Read on for our top-tips on how to avoid a social faux pas.

When to consider wearing a mask at work:

  • In any crowded, indoor workplace, or any indoor workplace where you work in very close proximity to other people
  • If you work around immunocompromised people, or people who live with those who are immunocompromised.
  • If anyone in your workplace makes a request for those around them to wear masks, or signals that the lack of mask-wearing is making them uncomfortable.
  • If any of your work colleagues are not fully vaccinated.

Above all, it’s best to respect everyone’s opinions and outlooks on mask-wearing, even if they don’t align with our own.

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Feel Good Story

Man with Alzheimer’s remarries wife after forgetting they’re married

A 56 year-old man from Connecticut has proven that his love for his wife is undying, even under the strain of neurological disorder like Alzheimer’s.

Lisa Marshall, wife and caretaker for Peter Marshall since his diagnosis in 2018, explained her own confusion and heartache at Peter’s young diagnosis: “I didn’t know anything about Alzheimer’s. It was something you get when you’re 80.”

Lisa began documenting their journey on the Oh Hello Alzheimer’s Facebook page.

In 2020, while watching a wedding scene on television, Peter pointed at the screen and asked Lisa if she’d like to marry him. ” He didn’t know that I’m his wife,” said Lisa. “I’m just his favorite person.”

On April 26 of this year, the couple renewed their vows in front of close friends and family. Lisa says there “wasn’t a dry eye in the house”, and she “hadn’t seen Peter that happy in a very long time.

“I just want to be open and honest and tell people what we’re experiencing, because you might too,” Lisa told Today.

If you or a family has been affected by Alzheimer’s or you’d like to learn more, visit the Alzheimer’s Society website for support, advice and information resources.

Wellbeing Champions Newsletter

Monthly collection of news, wellbeing updates, lifestyle tips, and feel-good stories - delivered right to your inbox every third Thursday.

☕ Five-minute round-up. 🤐 No-spam ever. 👋 Unsubscribe at any time.
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