Archive for the ‘Member Wellbeing’ Category

MEMBER WELLBEING – Exam Stress & Anxiety

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Exams can be stress­ful and be anx­i­ety pro­vok­ing. Stress is what you expe­ri­ence when you start to become over­whelmed by a stres­sor (approach­ing exam) and your cop­ing meth­ods are either not help­ful (avoid­ance or risky behav­iours) or not enough.  Anx­i­ety is future based. That is, we wor­ry and feel anx­ious about some­thing we are about to do although our feel­ings and asso­ci­at­ed thoughts may be dri­ven by past expe­ri­ences.

Whether you are in the final years of high school or at uni­ver­si­ty, there is no escape from the expe­ri­ence or pres­sure of exams. Some peo­ple approach exams with a pos­i­tive mind­set, see­ing it as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to demon­strate what they know and per­haps pre­fer­ring the short pain of an exam to that of an assign­ment.  How­ev­er, it would be fair to say, these peo­ple are the minor­i­ty.

Exam peri­ods can also be stress­ful for fam­i­lies, as the per­cep­tion and often real­i­ty is that a lot depends on exam results. Whilst there are many path­ways to future aca­d­e­m­ic stud­ies and career choic­es, schools still por­tray exam per­for­mance as a path­way to future suc­cess. So, what can we do to man­age and alle­vi­ate the stress and anx­i­ety asso­ci­at­ed with exam times and what are the signs to look out for if nor­mal stress and anx­i­ety start to become some­thing more.

First­ly, it is impor­tant to under­stand that some stress and some feel­ings of being anx­ious are nor­mal.  Our brains are wired to iden­ti­fy risk and our bod­ies are designed to respond to it.  When faced with a sit­u­a­tion which brings on fear (exam), the brain and body respond by get­ting ready to either fight, flight (run away to safe­ty) or in some cas­es we freeze.  A lit­tle bit of stress is actu­al­ly good for us and has been demon­strat­ed to improve per­for­mance. Why? Because it increas­es arousal and makes you alert.  Under these cir­cum­stances, the brain is able to use the pre-frontal cor­tex (front of brain, respon­si­ble for log­i­cal think­ing, prob­lem solv­ing and con­trol) to approach the stres­sor and use cop­ing strate­gies to solve the prob­lem or resolve the threat. Too much stress and this expe­ri­ence cre­ates a chain reac­tion with the release of hor­mone and chem­i­cals which may make you want to run or freeze. So rather than being able to use high­er order prob­lem solv­ing and think­ing, here, the brain goes into prim­i­tive mode.  Typ­i­cal­ly, this is when you feel over­whelmed and unable to cope with the sit­u­a­tion. Here, the pre-frontal cor­tex is unable to func­tion and the more prim­i­tive part of the brain, the amyg­dala, along with the hypo­thal­a­mus and the pitu­itary gland takes over, releas­ing adren­a­line and cor­ti­sol which can lit­er­al­ly leave you frozen in fear, unable to recall any­thing from all those hours of study and pos­si­bly want­i­ng to run as far away as pos­si­ble.  The more you pan­ic, the worse it gets.

So, what can we do to help man­age stress and anx­i­ety?

Let’s begin with par­ents, why because they can actu­al­ly be cru­cial in help­ing young peo­ple to remain calm.

Parents;

  • Aim to choose your bat­tles and words wise­ly. Do you want your child to do well at school or have a tidy bed­room?  It is unlike­ly you are going to have both so decide ear­ly and stick to it.
  • Pay atten­tion to your child’s emo­tion­al health and well­be­ing. Pos­i­tive mes­sages and sup­port from you in times of stress and what your child learns about them­selves and you at this time will set your child up for life, more so than exam results.
  • Look out for changes in behav­iours and sleep­ing and eat­ing pat­terns. Is your child par­tak­ing in more risky behav­iours ie drink­ing and oth­er sub­stances?  These can be ear­ly warn­ing signs of some­one who is not cop­ing and needs sup­port.
  • Make sure you have a good rou­tine for your child, ie reg­u­lar meal times (even if they don’t eat it or binge at KFC) and good qual­i­ty food.
  • Find some­where in your house where they can study away from oth­er noise and dis­trac­tion. Bed­rooms do not make the best study places as they are for sleep but yes, this will take some nego­ti­a­tion and pos­si­bly a trip to buy some fan­cy study items!
  • When your child tells you that “you don’t under­stand”, they are prob­a­bly right! It is so much hard­er now than when you were at school.  Kids mature lat­er and job prospects real­ly are quite poor.  They are already putting enough pres­sure on them­selves; you load­ing on more is often not help­ful.
  • If your child doesn’t want to exer­cise, go do it your­self. It will help with your stress lev­els too.
  • Let them know that you love them, tell them it is okay to feel stressed and ask them what you can do to help.
  • If they don’t get the results you or they are hop­ing for, it’s okay, we all learn as much if not more from fail­ure than we do from suc­cess.
  • Avoid ask­ing oth­er par­ents or young peo­ple what their results were. Instead, just con­grat­u­late them for try­ing their best and get­ting through the exam peri­od.
  • Focus on sup­port­ing your own chil­dren. Com­par­ing your child to anoth­er is not help­ful and can actu­al­ly be harm­ful.

Students;

  • Break your study down into lit­tle bits and do it often with decent breaks in between.
  • Reward your­self for your efforts with healthy activ­i­ties or treats.
  • Find a study bud­dy, make it fun but get the task done. Being pre­pared is the best way to tack­le exams.  You are less like­ly to want to run if you are feel­ing pre­pared and con­fi­dent and this takes some com­mit­ment from you.
  • Have a good rou­tine, eat, sleep, relax, study, socialise. Rou­tines make life pre­dictable and pre­dictabil­i­ty reduces stress and feel­ings of being anx­ious.
  • Exer­cise doing some­thing you like with peo­ple you like. Exer­cise reduces the feel­ing of being anx­ious, it helps to get those chem­i­cals out of your sys­tem and cre­ates bal­ance and makes you feel good (tru­ly!).
  • If you are feel­ing stressed or over­whelmed, talk to some­one you trust. Peo­ple will lis­ten if you let them know how you are feel­ing.  If they aren’t lis­ten­ing, find some­one who will.
  • Avoid the temp­ta­tion to par­ty hard. Rely­ing on drugs and alco­hol to fix your prob­lems will only bring you more prob­lems.
  • Seek feed­back and guid­ance from your teachers/lecturers/tutors. It is their job to guide you on what you should be study­ing and most of them will do this hap­pi­ly, espe­cial­ly if they see that you are putting in the effort.  If ask­ing in front of oth­ers is intim­i­dat­ing, ask to see them on your own and out of class or send them an email.
  • When faced with the nag­ging bed­room drag­on, give a lit­tle. Just tak­ing up your dirty dish­es to the kitchen is like­ly to cre­ate some sort of har­mo­ny.  Remem­ber, your par­ents real­ly do love you; they just have a weird way of show­ing it some­times!
  • When exams are done, they are done. The results can’t be changed and they are your results.  Com­par­ing your­self to oth­ers is often not help­ful for you or them.  You are all dif­fer­ent and will all get there in the end.
  • Learn from the expe­ri­ence, what worked for you and what might you need to change for next time. It is okay to fail an exam, it is not the end of the world, it might just sig­nal that some adjust­ments need to be made.

For more infor­ma­tion and some use­ful tools for par­ents and young peo­ple on exam stress, anx­i­ety and sur­viv­ing school or uni­ver­si­ty, have a look at the fol­low­ing:

What is real­ly impor­tant to remem­ber is that some feel­ings of being anx­ious are nor­mal.  Feel­ing anx­ious does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean you have anx­i­ety.  Clin­i­cal anx­i­ety requires a diag­no­sis from a qual­i­fied med­ical pro­fes­sion­al and has cer­tain cri­te­ria which must be met.  Clin­i­cal anx­i­ety has a sig­nif­i­cant impact on your abil­i­ty to func­tion, dai­ly and over a peri­od of time or is extreme in cer­tain, sit­u­a­tion­al cir­cum­stances.  If you have any con­cerns about your­self or a loved one, a great place to start is your GP.

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted…

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Lone­li­ness and the feel­ing of being unwant­ed is the most ter­ri­ble pover­ty. – Moth­er Tere­sa

Human beings by nature are social crea­tures and there is a ben­e­fit in ‘run­ning with a pack’, as being part of a group increas­es safe­ty and resources. Some peo­ple are per­fect­ly hap­py in their soli­tude and for oth­ers, they can be sur­round­ed by hun­dreds of peo­ple and still feel ter­ri­bly and painful­ly alone. Some researchers sug­gest that the pain felt from lone­li­ness is designed to make you seek out oth­ers, to increase your well­be­ing and min­imise the risk of being iso­lat­ed.

Peo­ple who expe­ri­ence lone­li­ness describe a sense of empti­ness, worth­less­ness and lack con­nec­tion to oth­ers and lone­li­ness is a risk fac­tor for var­i­ous men­tal and phys­i­cal health prob­lems such as depres­sion, anx­i­ety, drug and alco­hol addic­tions, sui­ci­dal thoughts and behav­iours as well as obe­si­ty, com­pro­mised immu­ni­ty and vas­cu­lar con­di­tions.

We heard recent­ly from our Pres­i­dent Alis­tair Cook, how the impor­tance of feel­ing part of our Club and the sup­port received from our mem­bers has been invalu­able to him­self and his fam­i­ly as he bat­tles his diag­no­sis of can­cer.  Social move­ments such as Act, Belong, Com­mit, recog­nise that social net­works such as clubs and com­mu­ni­ty groups, can pro­vide valu­able oppor­tu­ni­ties to con­nect with oth­ers and build mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ships. Clubs pro­vide the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­nect with oth­ers who share sim­i­lar inter­ests. They also pro­vide the oppor­tu­ni­ty to make a con­nec­tion at times when con­nec­tions get lost, such as peo­ple mov­ing away from fam­i­lies and fam­i­ly break­downs; when lives are chang­ing for exam­ple, when becom­ing a par­ent for the first time, or when loved ones become ill. For oth­ers, clubs pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty to give back and share a life­time of knowl­edge and expe­ri­ences when work lives come to an end.

How­ev­er, often with­in clubs, sub-groups exist, that is groups of peo­ple who form mini-groups with­in a main group. Whilst it is human nature to mix with those who share sim­i­lar likes and val­ues, the sub-group often unin­ten­tion­al­ly makes it dif­fi­cult for new­com­ers to feel wel­come and ‘fit-in’.  We have all expe­ri­enced what it is like to turn up some­where where you know no-one, yet it appears every­one knows every­body else. How dif­fi­cult it can be to pluck up the courage to turn up hop­ing that some­one will wel­come you and say ‘hi’.  For some, it is far more dif­fi­cult to take this risk than for oth­ers, and the fear or expe­ri­ence of rejec­tion means that they will nev­er return again, mean­ing that the oppor­tu­ni­ty to build a new friend­ship is lost for all.

So, as our sum­mer activ­i­ties come to an end and new oppor­tu­ni­ties such as Phat Chix, evening swim­ming train­ing etc., com­mence, take time to wel­come new peo­ple into these groups.  Sim­ply by stop­ping to intro­duce your­self, wel­come some­one into the group and tak­ing those first steps to build a new rela­tion­ship, you may actu­al­ly be pos­i­tive­ly con­tribut­ing to chang­ing their phys­i­cal health and well­be­ing and the feel-good feel­ing that you will get, actu­al­ly increas­es your health too!

MEMBER WELLBEING – The President’s health message

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

I want to share with you my recent can­cer diag­no­sis in the hope that my per­son­al sto­ry will moti­vate you to tack­le your own health con­cerns. I want you to hear this straight from me rather than whis­pers, and I want you to be able to freely speak to me about it.

I’m not telling you this for sym­pa­thy – I want this sto­ry to encour­age you, and I want you to think about our club’s Well­ness Pro­gram with a renewed inter­est.

My issues start­ed short­ly before Christ­mas when I strug­gled to uri­nate and so I went to the doc­tor. He pre­scribed antibi­otics that failed to do any­thing and then I was sent to a urol­o­gist. She also pre­scribed antibi­otics and when that didn’t work she arranged for a “scope test”.

It was late Jan­u­ary – the busi­ness end of the sea­son when Coun­try Car­ni­val had been and gone and almost every com­ing week­end includ­ed a com­pe­ti­tion – and I found myself in a hos­pi­tal with a cam­era broad­cast­ing the inner work­ings of my blad­der on to a screen. Ini­tial­ly, the cam­era did not detect any­thing abnor­mal, but as the device turned around the enor­mous “bun­dle of coral” appeared on the screen.

It was a tumour. A big one.

I have strug­gled to find the words to tell this sto­ry as I’m a log­i­cal thinker and this diag­no­sis still seems com­plete­ly illog­i­cal – this sim­ply makes absolute­ly no sense to me what­so­ev­er.

I’m 45-years-old – which the spe­cial­ists say is a young age for this type of tumour. I am fit and I lead a healthy lifestyle, and in the sim­ple terms used by the doc­tors — I’m unlucky.

But we don’t choose the hand we are dealt, we can only play it as best we can.

The diag­no­sis was unex­pect­ed and came as a com­plete shock, with one ques­tion burn­ing in my mind – what does that mean? The test was com­plete and surgery was planned for 18 Feb­ru­ary to remove the tumour. I walked out of the hos­pi­tal to my wife Michelle, but would not share the diag­no­sis until we were alone togeth­er in the car.

She was fright­ened. This was the most alarm­ing health issue I had faced in my life to date. Telling my teenage sons was also an extreme­ly dif­fi­cult task.

The sub­se­quent surgery suc­cess­ful­ly removed the tumour which the doc­tors described as “high-grade” but “non-inva­sive”. Oth­ers words includ­ed “self-con­tained” and “fast-grow­ing”.

All of this trans­lat­ed into the best pos­si­ble news for this par­tic­u­lar type of tumour.

I’m not yet out of the woods and I cur­rent­ly have a ureter­al stent from my kid­ney which is a con­stant source of pain that I will be liv­ing with for the next few months.

In addi­tion to the pain, the stent pre­vents me from train­ing. This is my main source of frus­tra­tion at the moment – exer­cise is a big part of my life at our surf club.

I was in peak phys­i­cal con­di­tion just before this in readi­ness for the WA Mas­ters Surf Life Sav­ing Cham­pi­onships at Sor­ren­to in March and, despite being two weeks post­op­er­a­tive (much to Michelle’s hor­ror), I was amazed and proud to take away a Gold in the Beach Sprints and Sil­ver in the Beach Flags – a goal I had to achieve.

Aussies are on but I could feel my phys­i­cal form suf­fer­ing through the lack of train­ing and I, there­fore, can­celled our fam­i­ly trip in favour of pro­gress­ing my treat­ment.

In April I will com­mence immunother­a­py – once a week for six weeks deliv­ered direct to my blad­der which car­ries its own risks, and may con­tin­ue month­ly after that for up to three years, but I know the alter­na­tives are far worse.

Fur­ther to this, I will under­take quar­ter­ly scope tests. The prospect of this tumour return­ing is gen­er­al­ly regard­ed as high giv­en the nature of the tumour that was removed.

I don’t want peo­ple to treat me dif­fer­ent­ly. It is what it is and you have to get on with it.

I want to remind every­one that every­one has some­thing going on in their lives – even though it may not be obvi­ous on the face of things.

I want to encour­age our won­der­ful surf club com­mu­ni­ty to take the time to ask oth­ers how they are going, it doesn’t take much.

I have seen this Club pull togeth­er in a very spe­cial way this sea­son. I have seen it in com­pe­ti­tion – with ath­letes from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines jump­ing in to assist their fel­low club mem­bers at car­ni­vals.

I have seen it on our incred­i­ble beach each week­end dur­ing club days with the old men­tor­ing the young, and the young re-ignit­ing the pas­sion of the old.

I have seen it with major events such as the Nip­pers Car­ni­val host­ed at Mul­laloo in Jan­u­ary.

Club mem­bers have pulled togeth­er in sup­port of me since my diag­no­sis and this has been tru­ly heart-warm­ing – it’s also a major rea­son I want peo­ple to talk about their own issues. There’s always some­one there to lis­ten, help or to speak to, you don’t need to go through things on your own.

It is impor­tant to ask oth­ers if they are ok but it is equal­ly impor­tant to lis­ten to what they are say­ing and how they are say­ing it as com­mu­ni­ca­tion takes many forms. Fur­ther, it may encour­age anoth­er to care­ful­ly con­sid­er their own health and, where nec­es­sary, take action.

For me – I am going to con­tin­ue serv­ing as your Pres­i­dent, albeit with a small break now the sum­mer sea­son is com­plete to recov­er from the ini­tial treat­ment. It’s a role I feel priv­i­leged to have and in this role, I con­sid­er it my duty to share this mes­sage to help oth­ers. Men, in gen­er­al, are extreme­ly poor at deal­ing with health issues or ask­ing for help and I’d like this to change.

Do not suf­fer in silence.

Thank you to Luke Eliot and Pam Bubrzy­c­ki for your con­tri­bu­tion to this mes­sage.

MEMBER WELLBEING – SLEEP

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Recent­ly, there has been an increased focus and aware­ness of sleep and many Aus­tralians are report­ing sleep issues.  Step into your local book­store and you will find a whole sec­tion ded­i­cat­ed to sleep and many of us now pur­chase items such as can­dles and herbal med­ica­tions to help us sleep and wear elec­tron­ic devices which track sleep allow­ing us to scru­ti­nise sleep pat­terns on a dai­ly basis.  Yet, many peo­ple don’t actu­al­ly under­stand the process of sleep, why we need it and how our actions and behav­iours inter­fere with and inter­rupt this impor­tant bio­log­i­cal process.

The sleep/wake cycle is trig­gered by a com­plex inter­play between exter­nal cues such a day and night, hor­mon­al influ­ences and oth­er phys­i­o­log­i­cal func­tions such as eat­ing and exer­cise.  Each night, we pass through sev­er­al stages of sleep which are bro­ken down into Non-REM (rapid eye move­ment) sleep and REM sleep.  Most of the night is spent in Non-REM sleep with about 20–25% of our time in REM sleep when most dreams occur.  REM sleep is more fre­quent ear­li­er in the night and decreas­es in length and inten­si­ty as the night pro­gress­es.

Non-REM sleep starts with a relaxed state with a pro­gres­sion through sev­er­al stages where brain waves slow, breath­ing deep­ens, and your heartrate slows as your blood pres­sure falls. After a while, you enter REM sleep where your phys­i­o­log­i­cal state rep­re­sents that of being awake yet your mus­cles are in a paral­ysed state only mov­ing for twitch­ing and spasms pri­mar­i­ly seen in the eyes which flick­er back and forth.  The whole cycle lasts about 90 min­utes and you progress through around 4–6 of these cycles through­out the night with peo­ple sleep­ing less as they age.

Sleep allows the body and brain to rest and recov­er and it is essen­tial for opti­mal health and well­be­ing. Sleep makes us feel bet­ter.  It increas­es our ener­gy, helps us to con­sol­i­date mem­o­ries and learn­ing, pro­motes brain cell con­nec­tions and improves over­all func­tion­ing and well­be­ing. Yet, accord­ing to the 2016 Sleep Health Sur­vey of Aus­tralian Adults(1), 30 to 45 per cent of Aus­tralians have poor sleep health.

Poor sleep has been asso­ci­at­ed with weight gain, the onset of dia­betes, an increased risk for car­dio-vas­cu­lar dis­ease, depres­sion, anx­i­ety, a com­pro­mised immune sys­tem and poor­er cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing includ­ing risk assess­ment and sleep depri­va­tion has been asso­ci­at­ed with high­er error rates of impor­tant tasks such as dri­ving.

Sleep reg­u­lates the metab­o­lism and is impor­tant for the release and reg­u­la­tion of hor­mones such as ghre­lin and lep­tin which is impor­tant for appetite con­trol. Peo­ple who sleep less than six hours per night are more like­ly to have a high­er body mass index (BMI) than peo­ple who sleep for 8 hours.  In fact, lack of sleep is the third high­est risk fac­tor for obe­si­ty after lack of exer­cise and overeat­ing.   Sleep­ing also reg­u­lates the release of insulin which reg­u­lates our blood sug­ar lev­els and reg­u­lates the stor­age of fat.  High­er lev­els of insulin are asso­ci­at­ed with weight gain and dif­fi­cul­ties metabolis­ing fats in our blood.  Poor sleep also inter­feres with the sig­nals from the brain which sig­ni­fy the sense of full­ness after eat­ing and can increase crav­ings for sug­ary foods.

Sleep also plays an impor­tant part in our men­tal health.  When we sleep, our brain reg­u­lates the release of cor­ti­sol, the ‘stress hor­mone’.  Poor sleep increas­es cor­ti­sol which is linked with increased symp­toms of anx­i­ety and chron­ic sleep depri­va­tion has been cor­re­lat­ed with the onset of clin­i­cal depres­sion.  Alco­hol and drug abuse prob­lems are also more preva­lent in peo­ple who expe­ri­ence poor sleep as peo­ple often attempt to ‘self-med­icate’ using alco­hol and or drugs in an attempt to bring on the onset of sleep.  Whilst alco­hol and drugs ini­tial­ly make you feel sleepy, they then stim­u­late the brain mak­ing remain­ing asleep dif­fi­cult and can increase the like­li­hood of devel­op­ing an addic­tion dis­or­der.

The Sleep Health Study (1)found that near­ly 50 per cent of all adults report hav­ing two or more sleep-relat­ed prob­lems which impact­ed on sev­er­al of their life domains.  Some of the prob­lems report­ed by par­tic­i­pants includ­ed expe­ri­enc­ing sleep dis­or­ders such as; insom­nia where it is dif­fi­cult to fall asleep or stay asleep, Nar­colep­sy where peo­ple sud­den­ly fall into REM sleep dur­ing nor­mal day­time activ­i­ties, Sleep Apnea where peo­ple stop breath­ing dur­ing sleep and night­mares and night ter­rors all of which not only affect func­tion­ing and well­be­ing but can be high­ly dis­tress­ing.  Whilst some of these con­di­tions have a neu­ro­log­i­cal basis, the best way to avoid sleep issues is to not mess with the sleep/wake cycle and to have good sleep hygiene.  Like every­thing else which is good for us, this requires dis­ci­pline and rou­tine.

Our reliance on dig­i­tal devices and social media is prob­lem­at­ic and is hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant impact on our sleep with con­cern­ing con­se­quences.  Night time com­put­er usage is a major con­tribut­ing fac­tor to poor sleep with 44 per cent of adults report­ing inter­net usage just before bed every night.  This rate increased to 75 per cent in the 18–24 yr age brack­et.  Twen­ty nine per cent of adults report dri­ving whilst drowsy at least once a month and 20 per cent report hav­ing nod­ded off at the wheel whilst dri­ving.  Twen­ty one per­cent of men and 13 per cent of women report hav­ing fall­en asleep at work, and 29 per cent of those sur­veyed report mak­ing errors at work due to feel­ing sleepy (1).  Being too tired was also a com­mon rea­son for miss­ing out on social activ­i­ties with 45 per cent of 18–24 yr olds report­ing that they missed out on at least one social event in the past month due to being tired.

With poor sleep impact­ing so many areas of our lives, here are a few things you can do to improve your sleep;

  • Have a reg­u­lar rou­tine for wak­ing, eat­ing, exer­cis­ing and going to bed.
  • Spend time out­doors, this pro­motes hor­mones which help set and main­tain your body clock
  • Try to avoid day time naps
  • Exer­cise dai­ly
  • Avoid caf­feine in late after­noon
  • Prac­tice relax­ation tech­niques to wind down after a busy day
  • Avoid excess alco­hol use and quit smok­ing
  • Have a good bed­time rou­tine and only go to bed when you are sleepy
  • Avoid tele­vi­sion and oth­er elec­tron­ic devices in the bed­room which can keep you awake or wak­en you dur­ing the night
  • Check out web­sites (dur­ing the day­time) which have plen­ty of tips to help you get qual­i­ty sleep like Beyond Blue and the Sleep Health Foun­da­tion.
  • Above all, if sleep prob­lems con­tin­ue to be an issue, vis­it your GP.
  1. Report to the Sleep Health Foundation 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults

MEMBER WELLBEING – GOAL SETTING

Monday, January 21st, 2019

Many of us use the month of Jan­u­ary to set our­selves some goals for the year. Typ­i­cal­ly, we aim to change some­thing we are not hap­py with, for exam­ple our health. Whilst it is great that we reflect upon and revise our health sta­tus and lives in gen­er­al, set­ting goals which are dif­fi­cult and unre­al­is­tic can leave us feel­ing dis­heart­ened, upset and like fail­ures. Equal­ly, set­ting goals which are too easy can also be prob­lem­at­ic in that the changes we make are unlike­ly to be sus­tain­able, sim­ply because we did not have to work that hard to get there. Any change requires plan­ning and true change can take up to two years to incor­po­rate into our lives ensur­ing that change not only hap­pens, but the changes we make then become the new way of being.

Some sim­ple ways of increas­ing our chances of suc­cess in set­ting and achiev­ing goals and ongo­ing, sus­tain­able change can be to set what are called SMART goals. SMART stands for Spe­cif­ic, Mea­sur­able, Achiev­able, Rel­e­vant and Time Based. Here is how you can incor­po­rate SMART goals into your desired change set­ting you up not only for increased oppor­tu­ni­ties of suc­cess but also plan­ning for those lit­tle hic­cups which might occur;

SPECIFIC:

What exact­ly is it you want to change? Name it, write it down, tell trust­ed oth­ers.

MEASURABLE:

What will the change look like, how will you know you are mak­ing a change?

What is the high­est lev­el of change you are aim­ing for, what is the low­est lev­el you would still be hap­py with and where is some­where in the mid­dle? How will you know change is occur­ring? Per­haps a dai­ly, week­ly, month­ly progress chart can help here. If it is some­thing phys­i­cal, take a pho­to, take some mea­sure­ments.

ACHIEVABLE:

Is the goal real­is­tic? Typ­i­cal­ly, you want to be about 70% con­fi­dent you can make this change. The con­fi­dence rat­ing of 70% ensures the goal isn’t too dif­fi­cult or too easy. Find­ing a bud­dy or join­ing a group who is also inter­est­ed in mak­ing this change increas­es your like­li­hood of suc­cess. It’s much hard­er to walk away or not turn up when you are account­able to oth­ers besides your­self.

RELEVANT:

Does it mean some­thing to you? Is it your goal? Are you invest­ed in the change? Change which means noth­ing to you or which you may be try­ing to do to please some­one else is just hard work and can leave you feel­ing guilty, frus­trat­ed and like a fail­ure. Here, you need to be hon­est with your­self and hon­est with oth­ers.

TIME BASED:

How long are you going to give your­self to make the change? Can you break this time­frame into incre­ments with small goal ori­en­tat­ed reward points along the way? Be care­ful not to reward your­self with some­thing which is a step back­wards towards the behav­iour you are try­ing to change! To increase your chances of suc­cess, look for­ward, what events which are com­ing your way and may be a threat towards goal achieve­ment? Plan for them.

Oth­er tips that can help are con­sid­er­ing the fol­low­ing:

  • Write your goal down, say it out aloud and share it with some­one you know who will be sup­port­ive. There are many tem­plates for SMART goals on the inter­net, have a look and down­load one.
  • Plan­ning is the key. What prepa­ra­tion will you need to do to increase your chance of suc­cess? Who can help you and what does that help need to look like? Are there cer­tain sit­u­a­tions which you might need to avoid where you know you will be tempt­ed in the ear­ly stages of change?
  • What can you replace the behav­iour you want to change with? For exam­ple, going for a walk at a time when you might nor­mal­ly do the behav­iour you want to change.
  • Think about last time you tried to intro­duce change, what worked well and what didn’t? Can you use some­things you learnt from your past attempt to increase your suc­cess this time?
  • Would help from a pro­fes­sion­al increase your like­li­hood of suc­cess?

Above all remem­ber, along the way you are like­ly to face some hic­cups. Hic­cups are lit­tle speed bumps on your road to change. You know the ones, the days where work or home are stress­ful and despite the best laid plans, life just gets in the way or when you get sick or injured and you just feel like giv­ing up. Again, be real­is­tic, here, accep­tance is the key. Every­one has bad days when it all seems too hard. It’s when you con­vince your­self that the bad day has ruined all of your efforts and there is no point in get­ting back on track when the hic­cups become a major prob­lem. Here are some things you can do to stop a hic­cup from becom­ing a total dis­as­ter:

  • Reflect – what hap­pened and why? What might you need to revise to make the goal achiev­able again?
  • Time­frame – allow your­self to feel like this/behave like that for an after­noon or 24 hours but then, it’s back on track. Pick your­self up and dust your­self off!
  • Turn to one of your sup­ports – some­times hav­ing a bud­dy who will help you get back on track or just lis­ten to you is all you that you actu­al­ly need­ed.
  • Remind your­self – why did you set this goal and what was so impor­tant about it in the first place?
  • Be kind – don’t say any­thing to your­self that you would not say to your best friend!

Final­ly, if you have already start­ed your 2019 goals and are hav­ing a few hic­cups, don’t wor­ry, you can always use some of these sim­ple tips to help you get back on track. Some­times, you just need to take a step back to be able to move for­ward again.

Next time, we’ll look at sleep, some­thing we increas­ing­ly strug­gle with yet if we can get it right, has major impacts on our over­all well­be­ing.

MEMBER WELLBEING

Friday, January 11th, 2019

As announced by our pres­i­dent Alis­tair Cook in Decem­ber, the board has approved a three year plan aimed at increas­ing our member’s and in turn our com­mu­ni­ties’ well­be­ing.

This ini­tia­tive is ground break­ing for surf life­sav­ing clubs in West­ern Aus­tralia and brings surf life­sav­ing into line with oth­er organ­i­sa­tions and sport­ing codes.

The ini­tia­tive is aimed at increas­ing your under­stand­ing of what actions you can take to keep your­self and sup­port oth­ers to keep well. It will increase your aware­ness of how your men­tal health is pos­i­tive­ly impact­ed by your phys­i­cal health and how clubs such as Mul­laloo SLSC have a vital part to play in encour­ag­ing and enabling behav­iours which increase well­be­ing.  It will edu­cate our younger club mem­bers (and be a good reminder for the not so young) on the impor­tance of pos­i­tive life habits such as good nutri­tion, good sleep, the effects of reg­u­lar exer­cise, hav­ing a rou­tine, how to build resilience and the impor­tance of belong­ing and giv­ing to a com­mu­ni­ty.

The Back to Front Christ­mas Tree which recent­ly saw many gifts being dis­trib­uted to the hun­dreds of home­less peo­ple in Perth was the first event to be held under this port­fo­lio. Thank you to all who con­tributed, the gifts were grate­ful­ly received by Ruah and brought much joy to those who oth­er­wise would have gone with­out. Next year we hope to build on this activ­i­ty and pro­vide a Christ­mas morn­ing break­fast to ensure that no one is alone in our com­mu­ni­ty on Christ­mas morn­ing.

The edu­ca­tion­al aspect of this plan will see Patrol Cap­tains and Age Group Man­agers giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate in a two day Men­tal Health First Aid Train­ing Course. This is aimed at giv­ing these lead­er­ship roles the skills and knowl­edge required to iden­ti­fy and respond to those who may be show­ing signs of men­tal health chal­lenges in the same man­ner that we respond to those who need some phys­i­cal first aid. This train­ing is high­ly valu­able and will be run twice dur­ing the off sea­son.  It is impor­tant to under­stand that whilst the train­ing helps to iden­ti­fy, under­stand, and pro­vide an ini­tial con­ver­sa­tion­al response to men­tal health issues, it does not qual­i­fy hold­ers to pro­vide treat­ment. How­ev­er; it does teach some good sim­ple tech­niques equip­ping trainees with the abil­i­ty to sup­port peo­ple to seek treat­ment from either their GP or a qual­i­fied men­tal health prac­ti­tion­er.

The ini­tia­tive will also see impor­tant sup­port num­bers such as Life­line not­ed on our clubs home page and reg­u­lar arti­cles placed in our newslet­ter, the first will be on how to set your­self up for suc­cess when set­ting New Year’s Goals. No doubt the hordes of novice run­ners, cyclists and swim­mers who hit our won­der­ful Perth beach­es, pools and roads every year around this time will be think­ing about!