Raise your hand if you made a new years’ resolution on Dec 31st?
Keep your hand raised if you’re still sticking with it……. good work!!! Go enjoy your reward and see you next month!
Now, for the rest of us… what happened?
Many people make resolutions in the hope that the new year will fill them with some amazing new sense of motivation and will that allows them to hit the gym five days per week, or completely give up sugar or alcohol, or make sure they check off their lists each day to keep on top of their life. And it works for a little while! But sadly, the ticking over of a giant clock on a tower doesn’t imbue us with any new magic – we’re still the same people we were at one minute to midnight as we are at one minute after midnight. So how can we change that person into someone who enjoys 5am runs or completely abstains from coffee and cake?
The sort answer is: with great difficulty.
You can change your habits, but you need to know WHY you want to change them. For change to stick, the reason behind it has to be truly valid for you, otherwise excuses start to creep in and it all starts to crumble.
For example, say you want to start going to the gym more often. On the surface you may just want to lose weight, but that’s the kind of reason that is quickly toppled by excuses (it’s raining! it’s cold! I’m tired! I’m hungover!). If your reason for losing weight carries more weight, however, those excuses seem more flimsy by comparison and are less likely to work. Reasons such as preventing heart disease which might run in your family or wanting to be able to engage with your kids for more than 3min at a time tend to be the reasons that keep people on the right track far more effectively than a vague sense of wanting to weigh less than they do now.
Finding someone to help you work out the ‘why’ of your habit change can help make that change achievable long term. Sometimes it will simply be a matter of spending an hour or two hashing out what’s really important to you, where your priorities lie, what you’re willing to give up or put on the backburner and what you truly want to achieve.
Once you have that worked out, you’ll be better able to plan your changes and set yourself up for success, rather than setting yourself up for failure.
I was consulting with a patient when she mentioned she is working on herself to be more patient with others. That she often finds it difficult to work with people who she feels are wrong or who insist on completing tasks in a way she views as incorrect. That she has trouble tolerating the idiotsyncracies of others.
It was an accidental word, a slip of the tongue and the mind, but I loved it. She had meant to simply say ‘idiosyncracies’, but I think she actually wanted to say ‘idiots’. The result was a beautiful word that describes exactly what she feels she needs to tolerate in her life: the idiosyncrasies of idiots.
At this time of year especially, everyone can become a little unreasonable, irrational and downright ridiculous. The end of the year often spells increased pressure for people to finish things off, plan for the coming year, spend a lot of time and money doing things they may not really want to, all whilst dealing with temperature extremes (it’s been incredibly hot and stormy here, which I’m sure doesn’t help with rational thought!) and diets that have probably been filled with Christmas party staples and champagne.
Perhaps if we stopped and took a moment to consider the idiotsyncracies of others, we would be better able to handle some of these pressures. If we acknowledged that yes, we think other people are idiots – they are irrational, stupid, demanding, unreasonable, or any other term that fits our feelings about them – but they are still human. As such we need to also acknowledge their idiosyncracies – they are probably also innovative, enthusiastic, creative, industrious, big picture people who just do things differently to us or need a different routine to what we need.
By taking into account that others simply have different needs and requirements to get through their day, while acknowledging and allowing for that pang of pride in our own rational and superior selves, perhaps we’d all find ourselves getting along with less stress and more happiness in our lives.
Unless they’re driving in front of me ……….. in which case, did that idiot get their license out of a cereal box???
Last week I did my Level 1 Compounding course (more on that later!) and given that I needed to be on the Brisbane northside by 9am, this meant crossing from Ipswich through the city in peak hour traffic. There’s no way I was going to do this by car (the amount of fuel and time wasted for peak hour journeys through the city with only one person in a car makes my heart ache), so I decided to take my bike….
…that I hadn’t ridden in nearly 18 months…
As a motorcyclist, there are certain challenges I’ve faced – bikes being very tall and heavy, protective clothing that doesn’t really fit properly, trying to fit glasses into helmets, but the most challenging has been balancing childbearing with riding. Having babies has meant several breaks from riding – it’s hard to put on a helmet when morning sickness makes being upright a challenge or plopping an 8mth pregnant belly onto a bike comfortably!
With my first pregnancy I stopped riding early on and due to a difficult pregnancy and birth, I didn’t get back on the bike at all until nearly the start of my second pregnancy. I was so fixated on my pain that I didn’t enjoy riding and used any excuse to put it off. I eventually sold that bike because it made me sad to see it sitting unused in my garage.
I ended up buying another bike. It was smaller, lighter and an astonishing shade of purple! After my second pregnancy I was a bit more confident about getting back on the (mechanical) horse, but I still put it off for months because I was terrified about getting through a certain turn on a particular hill. My fear held me back so much and I knew it wasn’t rational, but when I finally took the bike out for a twilight run, I wondered what it was that had held me back? What was all the fuss and internal noise about? There was really nothing there.
This last pregnancy, I stopped riding at about 3mths when nausea made it almost impossible to wear a helmet, but I knew the bike wasn’t going to be neglected for long. I had thought after a nearly 18 month break I should probably do a practice run, but I was keen and I felt more than ready. I ran through the elements of riding and the route I would take over and over in my head in the preceding days (“Cool Runnings” came to mind!) and that morning, I pulled on my husbands Draggins (baby belly is taking a bit longer to reduce this time around…), strapped on my tiny backpack, took a deep breath and kicked into gear without a single hesitation or doubt to hold me back. I’d done this for a decade.
I knew how to do this.
I could definitely do this.
How was it? Is was just like riding a bike… you never really forget 😉
I’ve had this conversation six times this week with various people and each time there has been a pause, a moment of silence, then a slow nod of understanding. The conversation was about regular psychologist appointments as part of preventative medicine for good mental health.
All too often, we look at therapy as a band-aid solution to a crisis – something we do when things have gotten beyond our control and we’re absolutely, positively not coping. This is how we are expected to deal with significant unanticipated events, such as grief following a sudden and unexpected loss or other trauma, but what about all the little things in our lives that add up to tremendous stress and trauma that doesn’t seem so bad, but might be a growing issue?
I see patients come into my practice with a focus on looking after their bodies – the exercise, they eat well, they want to keep their heart, liver, kidneys, uterus and skin healthy. They want to do whatever they can to protect their body from future damage and are already putting in the hard work now to prevent problems down the line.
Except for their brains, of course. Sadly, the brain (the most important organ of all!) is often forgotten among the other aspect of what is seen as ‘healthy’ living. We often don’t think about how to protect or recharge the brain, how to prevent problems of the mind down the line.
This past week I’ve been speaking about the analogy of seeing a psychologist as a last resort as being similar to major surgery – it’s done when absolutely necessary in unforgiving circumstances. An amputation or stent placement – a last resort in dire circumstances. We don’t think of needing anything for a paper cut. Or two. Or three. Or even ten. But what about a hundred paper cuts? A thousand? How many of these tiny, seemingly insignificant events would it take before we’re bled dry? And how many should we endure before seeing help?
When I suggest regular therapy as part of a preventative health routine, I’m suggesting that a regular debrief or feedback session is a way of dealing with those thousand paper cuts so they don’t end up becoming critical. Therapy can reinforce coping techniques or give a safe space to explore potentially difficult feelings and conversations.
If everyone went to therapy regularly for those mundane events, I feel there would be far less need for crisis therapy when those same mundane events overwhelm us.
Guest Blogger – Andrew Browne
I was going through the back catalogue of one of my favorite YouTube channels the other day and came across this video and it really struck a chord with me as both a passionate gamer and the parent of three beautiful children under 5. The video is a touch over three years old now, but it’s still relevant today – perhaps even more so. I recommend all parents with young kids, regardless of whether or not you are a gamer yourself, stop reading this now and watch the video.
Now, if you’re not a gamer and pay any attention at all to the news you may be under the impression that video games are only for antisocial losers who are on the fast track to committing a mass shooting. While this isn’t the place to discuss how inaccurate this is and why the media do this, what it does do is promote misunderstanding and fear of video games. And that can be very harmful to your relationship with your children.
Gaming culture is now so mainstream and intertwined with modern culture worldwide that, no matter how hard you try to stop them, your children WILL be exposed to video games to some extent and it will start from when they’re toddlers. You can either chose to embrace this and participate alongside them, helping to guide their first steps from when they’re old enough to stop dribbling on the controller. Even if they leave you behind as they get older, it’s still something positive you shared and can help open conversations when your children need it.
Or you can be afraid and negative, either making it something your child feels alone doing or attempting to outright ban your child from them. That will create a divide between you, a sore point used as ammo to provoke or prolong an argument.
The non-gamers reading this may be going “That’s all well and good, but I only know Grand Theft Auto and/or Call of Duty from the News and neither are suitable for my toddler”. Well, I’m here to help! Here’s a few examples of games I play with my kids:
Abzu – available for PC and Playstation 4
An undersea adventure of a game that came out only a week or two ago at time of writing. It’s stunningly beautiful, both visually and musically, and simple enough that both my two and four year are able to control the action with minimal assistance. They’ve learned heaps about marine animals, things like the difference between fish and whales/dolphins or that there are sharks that eat plankton.
Spintires – PC only
A bit of a surprise, but my two year old loves this one and has christened it “Bumpy Truck” (which is very cute!). He sits up on my lap steering while I work the pedals at his request for “forward” or “back”. He’s worked out how a steering wheel works and that running into trees/rocks/deep water is bad.
Slime Rancher – PC only
A bit too complex for the two year old, but the four year old loves it. Bright, colorful and the slimes make cute, if odd, farm animals. She’s learning a lot about about farming practices, like planting crops and feeding domestic animals, plus a bit about economics when selling the produce of different types of slimes. There’s also an element of physics as you can vacuum up slimes then shoot them out so they bounce around.
I’ve just returned from a glorious few days on the North Coast of NSW attending the inaugural Australian Naturopathic Summit. It was a fantastic event with naturopaths from all around the country coming together to share their experiences, their expertise and their excitement at the way the profession is progressing.
I’ve come away with a sense of tremendous excitement, not only on how to make my practice and treatments successful, but on what success means to me. Success means something different for every person and over the course of those few days I had the opportunity to think about what it meant to me.
For the most part, success to me means a practice that is sustainable and stable (I know my patients aren’t vanishing and my patients know I’m not vanishing!), but now I see that for my definition of success there’s a large dollop of balance required. As some of you know, my third baby arrived on NYE last year and my priorities and plans had to change significantly. While these were big adjustments, they were not bad in and of themselves. I’m still working on my balance of the various facets of my life – work, study, family, friends, self – but I think I’m finally achieving some measure of success there. The professional side of success will take more time, but the personal side of success is a lifelong task that I think I’m finally understanding. After all – it’s only taken me 30-something years so far…
So what does success mean to you? How do you measure it? How do you know when you’ve attained it?
Every woman who’s ever had a baby has been given the same advice – cuddle your baby, accept all offers of help, sleep when the baby sleeps…
Hahahaha! Oh, that last one always got me! Who’s got time to sleep when the baby sleeps? Is the laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, looking after older children and work just going to happen on its own?? When the baby sleeps is when stuff gets done!
As it turned out, today I had the perfect opportunity to test out that last piece of advice to see if it was possible to sleep when the baby sleeps and not be eaten up with guilt.
We’d been up most of the night with a grizzly, unhappy, sick and teething baby – come morning, there were two grizzly, unhappy, exhausted parents. Sound familiar? One of us got to drive an hour to work, the other got started right away. I managed to get through most of my day by setting tiny goals such as making breakfast for the toddler, making some peppermint tea and forgetting to drink it until it’s stone cold, finding a laundry basket that didn’t have gumboots or glitter in it (toddlers are fun!) – just small achievable wins.
By 3pm, however, I’d hit my wall. The baby needed to be cuddled constantly, my upper body was about to go on strike (he’s 9kg after all!) and I was losing my ability to see straight. I lay down with bub and closed my eyes for just a second… …and woke up 20min later to the toddler asking for strawberries and the baby grasping at my chest. What happened? Where did the time go? I was just going to close my eyes for a second!
When the mind and body need to rest, it will happen. The laundry and deadlines were still there, but then so were the house and the children. Everyone was still happy and no-one was wondering why I was sleeping. If a 2 year old can accept the practicality of a nap, why do adults beat themselves up over it so much? Those 20min of rest allowed me to be a better mother and worker for the rest of the day. It’s time people (but especially women) let go of the expectation that superhuman stamina is standard and accept that a nap can be exactly what’s needed. Laundry be damned!
Today is my birthday. It was a day like many others, except it featured cake and pink lemonade (this is how you party when toddlers are involved!). As I was chatting, I realised that people do want to hear about how they can improve their health, but they also want to be heard.
From tomorrow I will be adding a weekly piece on a variety of topics. Today, I want you to tell me what you want to know more about. Let me know if you want to know more about upcoming events, common disorders (or less common ones!) or information about various herbs, minerals or vitamins. If you ask really nicely, I might even start including recipes!