Archive for the ‘Member Wellbeing’ Category

MEMBER WELLBEING: Movember — Supporting Men’s Health Month

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

It’s been just over six months now since I wrote my ini­tial arti­cle on my own health jour­ney and with Movem­ber now well under­way I felt it time to pro­vide an update.

My ini­tial can­cer diag­no­sis back in Feb­ru­ary now seems like a very long time ago as there have been many oth­er things tak­ing over my life, pos­i­tive­ly.

Since April I have been through six week­ly immunother­a­py treat­ments fol­lowed by a biop­sy which iden­ti­fied fur­ther high grade tumour polyps in my blad­der. It was explained to me that this may be new growth or have been rem­nants of the orig­i­nal tumour which were missed — obvi­ous­ly I hoped for the lat­ter! As a result, I was pre­scribed three fur­ther weeks of treat­ment.

Now all of this takes time. Between each course of treat­ment and sub­se­quent check is a wait of about six weeks. If noth­ing else, this process has taught me to be extreme­ly patient! It’s just over six weeks now since I went in for my lat­est biop­sy. The good news is the sur­geon found no new growth and noth­ing vis­i­ble that war­rant­ed a biop­sy. The down side was she now want­ed me to under­take a fur­ther course of what they term ‘main­te­nance treat­ment’.

I wasn’t told how long the main­te­nance would be but assumed it was anoth­er three weeks of fun. When I received the call from the Oncol­o­gy team to book in, I was shocked to learn that my main­te­nance treat­ment was now a once a month event for the next twelve months. Well that was kind of a blow to the sys­tem! For sev­er­al days I felt defeat­ed that the jour­ney was now going to be extend­ed by a fur­ther year…not what I want­ed to hear! As the days passed, I slow­ly let it sink in. I spoke with Michelle and the boys along with my very under­stand­ing boss, and it all fell into the thoughts of ‘it’s only twelve ses­sions’.

What I’ve learnt about this treat­ment is how much it actu­al­ly takes its toll on the body. First­ly, the anx­i­ety and stress of actu­al­ly going through it — I’m not going to lie, catheter­i­sa­tion is not a pleas­ant expe­ri­ence, and the after effects of treat­ment are becom­ing cumu­la­tive. For those of you who have expe­ri­enced cys­ti­tis, the day of treat­ment is effec­tive­ly that all day…on steroids! After that, because I am being giv­en a dose of live BCG vac­cine (used against tuber­cu­lo­sis), the immune sys­tem kicks in the next day and I then get flu like symp­toms for some days after that.

On the pos­i­tive side I’ve had a great year keep­ing my mind busy. I have final­ly fin­ished my Grad­u­ate Cer­tifi­cate in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion that I start­ed through Surf Life Sav­ing Australia’s lead­er­ship path­way, and which I sank plen­ty of time into (thanks for your patience Michelle). Work has cer­tain­ly been busy and chal­leng­ing, and not for­get­ting my role of Pres­i­dent of this won­der­ful Club which has allowed me to have many con­ver­sa­tions with many awe­some and sup­port­ive peo­ple. Add to that nor­mal home life with my eldest son Josh going through his ATAR ‘expe­ri­ence’ and my youngest Aron choos­ing his sub­jects for his upcom­ing year 11 jour­ney. Life has been busy but extreme­ly reward­ing.

Any­way, my first two month­ly treat­ments are now com­plete with the next two booked in, fol­lowed by my next check in January…not my pre­ferred birth­day present, but nec­es­sary!!

The point of my mes­sage is this. In what has now been termed men’s health month, if I can save one per­son, help some­one face their health fear or just sim­ply start a con­ver­sa­tion about some­thing that is trou­bling them, then I’m glad to have shared my per­son­al sto­ry. There are oth­ers going through much worse than me, and those who have already endured some­thing and come out the oth­er side. It’s easy to tell some­one you’re there for them to help but how many of us actu­al­ly ask for that help when we need it? Men espe­cial­ly are extreme­ly stub­born, and some feel it a weak­ness to seek help or advice from oth­ers. With this mes­sage I’d like to chal­lenge that and say it’s ok to speak out.

My own con­tri­bu­tion to Movem­ber is to take part and raise mon­ey to assist in the sup­port of men’s health, much to the dis­gust of Michelle who hates me with any facial hair! It’s only for 30 days in total which is a very short time in the scheme of things. My ask of you is to sup­port your fel­low Club mem­bers who are par­tic­i­pat­ing this month and we’ll check out the mo’s on Fri­day 29 Novem­ber.

Alis­tair Cook

MEMBER WELLBEING: Back to Front Xmas Tree

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Our club has a Well­ness ini­tia­tive, which encour­ages club mem­bers to look after their own well­ness as well as con­nect to their com­mu­ni­ty and reach out to oth­ers who may be strug­gling or who are less for­tu­nate.

Last year, club mem­bers were giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to spread Christ­mas cheer by plac­ing a gift for some­one who was expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness under the back to front Christ­mas tree in the club lounge.

This year, you are being asked to help spread a lit­tle bit of Christ­mas cheer to women and chil­dren who will not be spend­ing Christ­mas as home, sim­ply because home for them is not a safe place to be.  These fam­i­lies will be spend­ing Christ­mas in one of the refuges which sup­ports women and chil­dren who are escap­ing domes­tic vio­lence.

So, if you would like to let these fam­i­lies know that they are not alone and that some­one does care, kind­ly con­sid­er donat­ing a small wrapped gift under the tree which will short­ly be placed in the lounge.

I have spo­ken with refuge staff, and sug­ges­tions for ide­al gifts are;

  • Ladies pam­per kit, sham­poo, con­di­tion­er, hair brush­es and slides
  • Lip sticks, chap sticks, mois­turis­ers
  • Eye shad­ow, mas­cara, eye lin­er
  • Sun­screen, mois­turis­er, razors,
  • Feet care, nail-pol­ish, nail pol­ish remover,
  • Nail pol­ish, emery boards, hand crème
  • Face masks, eye mask, mois­turis­er
  • Mag­a­zine, show­er gels, body sponge/glove
  • Hair treat­ment, brush­es, combs, slides, scrunchies
  • Dry sham­poos, deodor­ants, leave in con­di­tion­er or hair masks
  • Hat, sun­screen, lip balm, sun­nies
  • Oil dif­fuser (no can­dles please), book, face mask

Chil­dren (placed last only because the kids are nor­mal­ly well looked after at Christ­mas, it’s the Women and Mum’s who tend to go with­out)

  • Lego (please place age appro­pri­ate­ness on label)
  • Card games eg, uno, skip-bo, snap-bo)

Any­thing you give will be very much appre­ci­at­ed and will cer­tain­ly bring a smile to someone’s face who is doing it very tough over the Christ­mas peri­od.

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki

Member Wellbeing: Mental Health Week

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

This week is Men­tal Health week in WA and the theme is ‘how we work, live, learn and play’ recog­nis­ing that men­tal health, more specif­i­cal­ly good men­tal health, incor­po­rates all aspects of our lives.

One of the most com­mon ques­tions asked about men­tal health is “Why do so many peo­ple suf­fer from poor men­tal health?”  The answer is very com­plex and as the theme of this year’s Men­tal Health week sug­gests, mul­ti-faceted.

As men­tioned in pre­vi­ous arti­cles, how we work has changed sig­nif­i­cant­ly over the past few decades most­ly due to advances in tech­nol­o­gy.  You don’t actu­al­ly have to be in one phys­i­cal loca­tion to work any­more with many work­places encour­ag­ing flex­i­ble work­ing arrange­ments such as work­ing from home and mobile work­places.  What this means is that the lines between work and home becomes blurred and the sense of belong­ing expe­ri­enced from attend­ing one’s place of work dis­ap­pears.

Humans are rela­tion­al and hav­ing a sense of con­nec­tion to each oth­er helps us to cre­ate our iden­ti­ties and feel as though we are val­ued and belong.   The sim­ple act of see­ing the same peo­ple each day and the rela­tion­ships we build from our work used to last a life­time, how­ev­er, these expe­ri­ences are dis­ap­pear­ing with many peo­ple hav­ing sev­er­al career changes in their lives and the chance to build long and mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ships with col­leagues often no longer exist.  If we add to this the fact that many young peo­ple now have to delay their pro­gres­sion to adult­hood until late into their 20’s due to extend­ed peri­od in edu­ca­tion and lack of long-term employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties, work no longer pro­vides the same sta­ble oppor­tu­ni­ties to devel­op mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ships that it once did.

The same can be said for how we live. It has been sug­gest­ed that this gen­er­a­tion of adults are the loneli­est we have ever been as a soci­ety.  We are indi­vid­u­al­is­tic, liv­ing in our own homes, not know­ing our neigh­bours and many fam­i­lies no longer live in the same coun­try, state or town as their rel­a­tives.  The rate of mar­riage break­downs adds to the dis­con­nec­tion between mem­bers of fam­i­lies.  Sim­ple acts like the fam­i­ly din­ner have dis­ap­peared and rather than com­mu­ni­cat­ing face to face, we text or email each oth­er, some­times whilst under the same roof.

Our places of edu­ca­tion and learn­ing have had to adapt to the changes in fam­i­ly and the make-up of the wider com­mu­ni­ty.  Teach­ers have to add resilience and how to appro­pri­ate­ly express one’s emo­tions to their cur­ricu­lums.  Some schools have tak­en the step of hav­ing a ‘Kind­ness Week” which is actu­al­ly real­ly sad.  We are born to seek out oth­ers and to live in packs and to form mean­ing­ful attach­ments with those we care about who are pre­dictable in their behav­iours and with whom we can share a sense of safe­ty.  Kind­ness is for most, an innate behav­iour and schools hav­ing to ded­i­cate a week to teach our chil­dren how to be kind is frankly quite con­cern­ing.

As for how we play, the obe­si­ty cri­sis in Aus­tralia is tes­ta­ment to the fact that play time is also dimin­ish­ing in our com­mu­ni­ties and with it the chance to prac­tice impor­tant skills like shar­ing, win­ning, co-oper­a­tion and loos­ing.  Like every­thing else in life, if we don’t have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tice skills, then we don’t know how behave when we win, lose or fail.  There­fore, we sim­ply do not have the lan­guage or skills to be able to cope when life throws us a curve­ball.

Add to this, 9,000 peo­ple sleep­ing rough on our streets every night, the ever increas­ing rates of sui­cide and domes­tic vio­lence in our soci­ety, it is no won­der that our rates of men­tal ill­ness are also increas­ing.

So, what can we do about what seems to be an over­whelm­ing prob­lem?  Like every­thing else that seems unsur­mount­able, we need to start with the sim­ple acts.  Here are a few sim­ple things you can try this week to improve not only your men­tal health, but the men­tal health of those in your com­mu­ni­ty;

  • Pay atten­tion to how many elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions you are send­ing this week. Can you replace some of those with a face to face con­ver­sa­tion or some­thing more per­son­al?  For exam­ple; instead of send­ing a sms or emo­ji for a birth­day, spon­ta­neous­ly vis­it them, phone them to say ‘Hap­py Birth­day’ or send a card with say­ing some­thing thought­ful.
  • Say hel­lo to your neigh­bour when you see them. If they are elder­ly or poor­ly, offer to get them some shop­ping or put out their bin.  A sim­ple act of kind­ness can mean so much, if you do this with your kids, they will learn to care for oth­ers from your exam­ple.
  • Have a board game night with friends and fam­i­ly, let the kids loose and show them that this can be okay (you can also let them win one or two and remind your­self that loos­ing is okay too).
  • Attend one of the local com­mu­ni­ty events for Men­tal Health Week or go to a com­mu­ni­ty event like a school fete. Click here for events.
  • Have a go at doing the well­ness wheel it might help you to iden­ti­fy areas of your life that you may need to pay atten­tion to.
  • Want to know how to invest in your own hap­pi­ness, watch this Ted talk 
  • Go for a walk with the kids around the block before or after din­ner with no devices, you might find out a lot in that walk.
  • Watch a fun­ny movie, laugh­ing togeth­er builds bonds and good mem­o­ries.
  • Book a hol­i­day, you are prob­a­bly due one!
  • Leave work ear­ly or at least on time.
  • If you want to know how lost con­nec­tions adds to the expe­ri­ence of anx­i­ety and depres­sion, watch this Ted talk by Johan Hari or read his book, Lost Con­nec­tions.
  • Final­ly, if you haven’t watched old people’s homes for 4 year olds yet, give it a look. It gives a very insight­ful look into how the sim­ple acts of con­nec­tion and kind­ness change the rates of depres­sion and anx­i­ety.  It pret­ty much sums up the entire theme of men­tal health week and gives some real­ly good feel good moments too!


Monday, September 16th, 2019

There has been a huge body of research and evi­dence around the con­nec­tion between what we eat and how we feel and func­tion.  It is now under­stood, that the gut, and specif­i­cal­ly the bac­te­ria in the gut, help to cre­ate and reg­u­late impor­tant hor­mones and enzymes which direct­ly impact our mood and well­be­ing.  Basi­cal­ly, it is like every­thing else in life, the qual­i­ty of what you put in, direct­ly impacts the qual­i­ty of what you get out and how long our bod­ies can work effi­cient­ly with­out suc­cumb­ing to dis­ease.  Check out this arti­cle for a sim­ple yet impor­tant mes­sage which might make you change your mind about what your next meal may be or at least will help you under­stand and track the impact your food choic­es are hav­ing on your well­be­ing.

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki

MEMBER WELLBEING – Achieving a healthy Life and Work Balance

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

Most of us are spend­ing more and more of our wak­ing hours at work.  Whilst there has been a sig­nif­i­cant increase in part-time work­ers, many part-time work­ers have more than one job.  Cur­rent sta­tis­tics show that the aver­age Aus­tralian spends some­where between 39 and 50 hours a week at work with those in min­ing, trades and the health sec­tor mak­ing up the major­i­ty of those work­ing long hours.  With these sorts of trends, it is no sur­prise that we spend more time with our work col­leagues than we do our fam­i­lies.  So how do we main­tain our work/life bal­ance, when work is increas­ing­ly creep­ing into our out of work hours?

If your home is like most, you prob­a­bly have an office (or an unused din­ing table) where the work office slow­ly creeps into the home space.    Your mobile phone is prob­a­bly linked to your work email and your car to your phone.  You start the morn­ing check­ing emails on your phone, then jump into the car and busi­ness begins.  You eat lunch at your desk or whilst dri­ving from one appoint­ment to the oth­er and fin­ish the day, parked in your dri­ve way end­ing the last work calls for the day.  Sound­ing famil­iar?

Here’s a few sim­ple ways you can claim back your life and bring bal­ance into your work and home space;

  • Try to avoid eat­ing lunch at your desk. Instead, use your unpaid lunchtime to increase your well­be­ing and decrease your stress lev­els.  Go out­side, to a park, read a book or catch up with a friend.
  • Try doing some lunchtime exer­cise or yoga with a col­league. Hav­ing a laugh with a friend at lunchtime reduces stress and gives you that extra burst of feel good hor­mones to get you through the after­noon.
  • Get into the habit of only check­ing your emails when you get to work. Even bet­ter, don’t have your out­look set to open up at your email.  Try set­ting it to open at your cal­en­dar.  That way, you can start your day on your terms, not every­one else’s.
  • Take your work emails off your phone, or at very least, turn off the noti­fi­ca­tion sound.
  • Leave your lap­top and work phone at work at the end of the day, or at least turn them off.
  • Avoid using your phone on the way to or from work. Instead, play your favourite CD or pod­cast and enjoy the dri­ve.
  • Plan to take your hol­i­days and take them.
  • If you find you can’t get your work done in your work­ing hours, have a con­ver­sa­tion with your employ­er. They may not be aware and may be able to get you some sup­port.  Warn­ing here, more mon­ey will like­ly only bring your more respon­si­bil­i­ty, not nec­es­sar­i­ly improve your well­be­ing.
  • When you get home, do some­thing to end your work day like change your clothes and take the dog for a walk or the kids to the park. This sets the bound­ary between work and home.
  • Leave work doc­u­ments at work. This stops your home office becom­ing an extend­ed ver­sion of your work­place where you are like­ly to do many unpaid work hours.
  • Last­ly, clear that din­ing table and start using it for what it is meant for, fam­i­ly meals. You’ll be sur­prised what you actu­al­ly find out when you sit down as a fam­i­ly or with friends and con­nect over a meal hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion.  I chal­lenge you to use Sep­tem­ber as the “Bring back the fam­i­ly meal month!”

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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


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;


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


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.


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.


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.


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.