Physical Activity and Exercise: What’s stopping you?

When it comes to physical activity and exercise, we all know it’s good for us, but there are plenty of things that can get in the way. I wonder …..what are the obstacles that get in your way of being active?  

Is it time? Money? Health? Weather? Tiredness? Maybe you want an exercise buddy? You don’t know what’s around or how to get started? You have caring responsibilities for other people? Or perhaps you’re worried you’ll be the slowest, most uncoordinated, oldest, or the only one without the latest trendy gear? Maybe pain or worry about medical issues is an issue?

There are so many things that can stop us even before we get started, or that get in the way of keeping the momentum going. It’s one thing to know that physical activity and exercise is good for us, and it’s definitely another thing to actually get out there and do it.

Move Your Large Muscles

The evidence is rock solid – no matter where you live, how old you are, or what your cultural background is. One of the best things you can do for yourself, family and community is to get moving. This means doing activities that use your larger muscle groups. I’m talking here about movements that involve your whole legs and whole arms or your whole body, so if you think that shuffling that pack of cards or pressing PLAY on your remote is considered movement, then you’re simply cheating yourself and your health.

Large muscle movement also means you’ll use more energy, something that’s pretty challenging when you feel tired. I know it sounds illogical, but when you’re tired, you generally feel better if you get up and move, or better still, do some exercise (see below) because movement and the right intensity of exercise can ‘give’ you energy.

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re moving because of work tasks, home activities, for leisure or for transport. Simply moving instead of sitting, standing or lying down for long periods reduces your risk of developing certain non-communicable diseases including depression, and poorer general health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published recommendations about physical activity to improve the health of the world’s population. These recommendations have been developed after comprehensively examining hundreds and hundreds of studies from all round the globe. Many countries, including Australia, have used these recommendations to write up specific guidelines to help us get more active. It makes sense from an economic as well as a health and wellbeing perspective to get moving.

The Australian Guidelines for Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour

The Australian Guidelines for Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour state that we should aim to:

  • Accumulate 2 ½ to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity (this takes some effort but you can still talk while moving) or 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of vigorous intensity physical activity (this takes more effort and you will be breathing faster – huffing and puffing), or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week. (The everyday-easy-to-understand-version of this is 30 – 60 minutes of exercise per day depending on intensity!)

  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.

  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.

  • Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. Start by doing something, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.

  • Minimise the amount of time spent sitting and break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

  • The guidelines now also include recommendations for children over a 24 hour period which includes sleep and activity routines.

Exercise vs Movement 

If you’re ready to take your general moving and grooving up a notch and reap added health benefits, then an exercise plan will help you to structure your physical activity to reach your health or fitness goals. Basically, exercise is a routine of physical activity with the purpose of improving one or more aspects of fitness, for example, strength, aerobic capacity, endurance, flexibility. And it’s amazing how a bit of huffing and puffing each day can improve your mood as well as your general health! But don’t go it alone. There are a number of health professionals who can support you towards improved health and mood so you reduce the risk of injury, sickness and low motivation.

Invite others onto your support team!

Your doctor

If you have any health, injury or medical issues you are concerned about, please check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Once approved, you can also ask for a referral to an exercise physiologist or exercise scientist, or you can refer yourself. Your doctor can also help you access help for respite (if you are a carer) and other services that will help you to get more active.

Exercise physiologists and exercise scientists

Exercise physiologists and exercise scientists have trained at university level to support people to get more active, and many of them specialise in working with people with medical issues. Most health funds provide a rebate for consultations, or you may be eligible to access a Medicare rebate or even fully funded consultations with a referral from your GP if you are eligible.

Personal trainers

Personal trainers usually have Certificate or Diploma level qualifications to provide exercise programs to help you reach your fitness goals. You can find personal trainers at many recreation centres and gyms, as well as self-employed in the community.

Group exercise & exercise buddies

Exercising with other people can be very motivating for a lot of us. Being able to socialise whilst moving can make it more enjoyable. Many recreation centres including swimming pools and gyms offer group exercise classes. Have a look for a class that is appropriate for your health needs and fitness goals. If you’re unsure, ask at the centre. Recreation centres and other fitness organisations can benefit from your feedback as it helps them to develop programs and classes to meet the local need. Don’t forget, you can also create your own opportunities for group exercise (or general movement) by asking a friend to go walking with you, have a round of golf, do some gardening or housework together, or walk to your favourite cafe for a cuppa and back home again.

The best advice is to move more, sit less

So remember, no matter what’s getting in the way of movement (that is, your physical activity and exercise), there are people here to help you. You are the captain of your own ship, and you can invite anyone onto your team. Remember that ‘something is better than nothing’ and you can gradually build up from ‘something’ to more and more. The main point is that simply by moving more and sitting less, you’re being kind to yourself and reducing your health risks. So keep moving, just keep moving, and gradually work your way to better health.

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How to Look After Your Own Mental Health

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Many of us have grown up believing that to be a ‘good’ person we must always put others before ourselves. Whilst it’s important to care for others and contribute to society in positive and constructive ways, it’s very unfortunate that many people stop caring for themselves and find it difficult to ask for help. We don’t want to burden our families, friends or even our doctors with our ‘problems’ so we tell ourselves that things will get better soon if we keep going, keep pushing on, put on a brave face and try to figure things out for ourselves. There can be a lot of shame and worry that stops us seeking help.

It’s okay, and in fact completely normal, to have moments of despair, anger, sadness, disappointment, grief, anxiety, frustration and confusion. When we accept this is a normal part of being human, it can be a little easier to reach out and ask for help, or share our upsets with someone else. There are different ways you can access help without feeling like you are being burden on others around you.

1. Counselling

worries and mental health

My clients often tell me they come to counselling because they want a safe, confidential, unbiased space to talk through life’s challenges and unload the heavy issues they’ve been carrying. Counselling can also help you problem-solve, prioritise, and develop new skills and strategies. There are many types of counsellors so I recommend talking to your GP who can match you up with a counsellor to meet your needs.

GP Mental Health Treatment Plan

If your GP creates a Mental Health Treatment Plan for you, they can refer you to an accredited Mental Health Worker such as an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, psychologist or other mental health worker with a Medicare Provider Number. You can then claim a rebate from Medicare for up to 10 sessions. Some Mental Health Workers bulk-bill or offer discounts for Seniors or Health Care Card holders.

Urgent Help

If you are feeling very stressed or suicidal, your GP or hospital doctor can refer you to a service that is ready to respond and support you very quickly.

Self-refer

If you prefer, you can self-refer to a counsellor but you will not be able to claim a Medicare rebate. You may be eligible to claim a rebate through your private health insurer however it is important to check before going ahead.

Public Health

Other services are available through the public health system which may be a good fit for your needs too. Your doctor can give you guidance on the best service for your needs.

2. ‘Low Intensity’ Face-to-Face Support

If you don’t think you need counselling but you’d like a bit of support, you may be able to participate in a local group or individual program such as mindfulness training or coping skills training. Once again, the best way to get connected with the right service is having a chat with your GP. Your regional PHN website may also also list these services. Many ‘Low Intensity’ services are funded or subsidised by the Federal Government or not for profit organisations which makes them more affordable.

(For example, if you live in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region you might like to have a look at a clickable map with a list of mental health services.)

3. Online Services and Supports

If you don’t think you need to see a professional, you can access online services and supports. This is not a substitute for individual counselling, but it can be a terrific way of finding information and support from the privacy of your own home. I suggest using websites that are supported or authorised by Australian government bodies or universities so that you know you are getting the best evidence-based information and support. Here are a few recommended websites to get you started:

Black Dog Institute

Black Dog Institute mental health

Black Dog Institute translates world leading research into easy-to-understand information to build a mentally healthy world. On this website you can find:

Beyond Blue

Beyone Blue mental health

Beyond Blue provides information and support to everyone regardless of age or where you live. On this website you can find:

  • Support services for yourself or someone else
  • Information about mental health including anxiety and depression
  • Online forums
  • Online web chat service (you can text or type a conversation with a support worker)
  • Phone and email support services

DV Connect and Womensline

DVConnect mental health

DV Connect Womensline is the only statewide telephone service offering 24/7 support for women who are experiencing domestic or family violence. They offer free, professional and non-judgemental telephone support wherever you live in Queensland. They can arrange practical assistance such as crisis counselling, intervention, transport and emergency accommodation for Queensland women and their children who are in danger from a violent partner or family member. Browse the website or call 1800 811 811 (free call from any public phone).

Men’s Line

Mensline mental health

Men’s Line offers telephone and online counselling for men with family and relationship concerns or mental health concerns. On this website you can find information about:

  • anger, anxiety, depression, stress, responsible drinking
  • relationship problems
  • family violence
  • how to help yourself or someone else who is having suicidal thoughts
  • telephone, online chat, and video chat counselling

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health combines research, clinical care and practical education for women and health professionals. They translate and disseminate research and medical evidence into easy to understand health information. The website includes information about a very wide range of women’s health topics and includes:

  • booklets, fact sheets, articles
  • podcasts
  • webinars
  • recipes
  • tutorials
  • workplace health
  • Women’s Health Week

Do YOU have a favourite online resource? I’d love to hear! Send me an email with your tips and hints!

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Calm on the outside, agitated on the inside

Calm on the outside, agitated on the inside. Does this sound like you? How is that for you? Is it working in your favour? Or is there something you’d like to change?

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Picture This

Goomburra landscape
The stunning landscape at The Grain Shed Retreat, Goomburra Valley (PHOTO CREDIT: Darling Downs Wellness Therapies)

I’d like to invite you to picture yourself relaxed and at ease sipping a cool drink as you gaze out at the rugged mountains and the ancient valleys that surround you. A gentle breeze reminds you of the changing seasons. Thinking towards your future, your confidence rises. Your calm demeanour is a reflection of genuinely feeling calm on the inside. You’ve gained clarity about your dreams and goals, and you’ve tapped into your inner strengths. In the company of like-minded women, you’ve acknowledged the challenges that have held you back. The time for change has come. You’re ready to do things differently, to make self-care a priority, to celebrate who you are, and to take actions that align with your values and purpose.

With a clear plan for working towards your personal goals, you know just what you need to do. You no longer waste your energy stressing over things you can’t change. As you focus more and more on those things you have control over, your circle of influence expands. As you become increasingly inspired by your dream, so too you inspire others around you. Despite the inevitable challenges, you stand grounded in confidence knowing that you’re never alone, that you have the inner and outer resources to maintain your momentum.

Does this sound like you? Or perhaps something you’d like to experience in life?

Inner self, outer appearances

No matter how you appear to others, you are the only one that truly knows your inner turmoil, struggles, challenges, and disappointments. You might go through the motions of being a high functioning worker, mother and partner, but inside you could be experiencing agitation or distress. Lost dreams, worries, a lack of fulfilment – these are just some of the experiences women often keep to themselves. Stewing away inside they create a hot bubbly mess that has us feeling bitter and helpless. But still, we push on. Not happy or content. But we keep on going.

What if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way?

It’s true ….. it doesn’t have to be this way. I know. I’ve been there. Several times. I’ve also walked alongside many women who’ve experienced something similar themselves. We all have a different story, different experiences, but there are also many common threads. By sharing these threads, we get to weave a new story. A more powerful story that builds us up, that empowers us, instead of depleting us.

Companionship, community and connection are key factors

Companionship and community are two of the keys to writing a new story. When we’re very isolated from others we have difficulty thriving. Looking back I can clearly see the turning points in my own life when I connected with the people who became my tribe. I’ve had a couple of very special relationships with other women who truly ‘got me’. They accepted me just as I was. They lifted me up and showed me there’s more to life than the narrow window I’d been looking through. They demonstrated assertiveness and values-based action. They were friends and mentors who have had a profound impact on how I saw myself.

In recent years I’ve also had the privilege of being part of a community of women who openly encourage, inspire, embrace, love and connect with each other in incredibly meaningful ways. This tribe of women reflects many of the values so important to me – independence, connection, innovation, peace, creativity, courage, companionship, community. They’ve taught me that I am enough. Just me. The way I am. No labels. No definitions. No limitations. And that’s given me the space to be even more than I ever thought I was or could be.

I’m still an introvert, I still love my time alone. But now it’s not lonely alone-time. I am deeply connected with others and I’m part of a tribe. We don’t desperately need to be with each other all the time. But the fact that we know we’re a stand for each other, that we’re part of a supportive community, makes each of us stronger and enables us to make a difference in our worlds – both inner and outer.

Women Empowered Retreats

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This is my philosophy behind the Women Empowered Retreats. I know the benefits of connecting women together in deep, rich, meaningful conversation. I know the power of sharing stories in safe spaces. The power of connection and community. The power of knowledge and information sharing. The difference that inspiration makes to our sense of happiness, contentment, and fulfilment. The feeling of being calm on the inside, not just looking calm on the outside.

Every woman is drawn to our retreats for different reasons and will have a different experience from anyone else. Each retreat explores a different theme that weaves together elements of personal growth. But at each retreat we come with an open mind. We seek to be informed, inspired and empowered to be ourselves. We offer a gentle balance of information sessions, reflective activities, mindfulness practices, creative arts, movement, nature, and soul-nourishing food.

Whether you are simply looking for time and space to recharge, or if you are looking for a deeper meaning in your life, you will be inspired and empowered to live the life you love.

An invitation to discover calm on the inside

If this sounds like a slice of heaven to you, then we’d love you to join us for any of our upcoming retreats. This could be the beginning of your journey to discover what it feels like to be calm on the inside, or perhaps it’s an opportunity to connect with a community who will inspire you as you take action towards your dreams. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the region, whether you come alone or with a friend, you’ll be joining a strong, growing community of women who know the value of self-care, personal growth, and connection with others.

Our upcoming “Women Empowered’ events include:

“Yarn & Yoga in the Country”
Friday 26th July 2019 during the Jumpers and Jazz in July Festival

(PHOTO CREDIT: Darling Downs Wellness Therapies)
  • Hike Your Mountain (June 2019)
  • Yarn and Yoga in the Country (July 2019)
  • Women’s Health Retreat (September 2019)
  • Spring Retreat (October 2019)

To keep up to date with details as they are released, subscribe to my emails via my website and follow me on Facebook.

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How to exercise on a budget: what about walking?

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How DO you exercise on a budget?

There are so many pressures to spend your hard-earned money on, well, ummmm ….. basically everything! Including exercise. If you tune into the world around you or if you’re easily hooked into comparing yourself to others, you’ll probably believe that you HAVE to pay for a gym membership, you HAVE to buy fancy equipment to get fit, and that you HAVE to have the latest super-tech clothes if you intend to work up a sweat (which kind of goes along with exercise!).

Well I’m telling you that all these have-to’s are simply not true. Sure, some of those fancy clothes or equipment can enhance your exercise, but for aeons humans have coped quite well with little or no special exercise equipment. I mean, exercise is basically improving your strength and aerobic health through activity that puts a load on your body. It doesn’t HAVE to cost anything, and crying poor is never a reason to stay on the sofa.

Back in my day …..

Ask your grandparents or great grandparents (if they’re still around) and they’ll tellfirewood you what it was like back in their day. I bet they’d say no one needed any gyms or fancy schmancy pants in the olden days: exercise consisted of a hard day’s work out on the farm fixing fences, collecting and chopping wood for the kitchen fire, walking to the shop and doing the laundry in a boiler!

You don’t need a big budget!

Yes, times have changed and it’s a different world we live in, but there are some things that have stayed the same. To exercise on a budget, you simply get back to the basics – focus on your daily dose of physical activity instead of the frills-and-all approach that can suck you in. Get yourself a decent pair of shoes, pull on some comfy clothes and a hat. Slap on some sunscreen. Grab a bottle of water. And you’re all good to go walking, one of the best and most accessible types of exercise we have.

Why is walking ideal? Oh my goodness, let me count the ways!

  1. You can set your own pace
  2. It’s convenient – slip on your shoes and get out the door no matter where walking in bootsyou live or work or travel
  3. You can do it alone or in a group
  4. You’ve probably already got everything you need to go walking
  5. If you don’t have everything, you still don’t HAVE to spend a lot to get started
  6. No special equipment needed
  7. It’s free in general – to tell you the truth, there are a few places I’ve been to that charge a small fee such as a day entry fee to some National Parks or car parking fees in busy tourist or urban spaces, but that’s the exception not the rule. Walking is one of the cheapest ways to exercise on a budget.

Walking ….. “BORING!”

Walking is boring, you say? Well, anything’s boring if you repeatedly do the same thing day after day, in the same place, and in the same way.

Never be bored again!

Here are some ideas to vary up your workout so you’ll never be bored again, even if you need to exercise on a budget (and that’s most of us)!

  1. Mix it up – walk in different placeswalking on the beach
  2. Choose different length walks – some days go long, and other days go short
  3. Go solo, or meet up with a buddy
  4. Join a walking group
  5. Have a go at Park Run
  6. Change up which direction you go on your usual route
  7. Challenge yourself to an uphill climb
  8. Relax with a downhill walk
  9. See the city sights on an urban walk
  10. Climb those stairs – repeatedly!
  11. Go exploring on a water walk – river, dam, ocean
  12. Treat yourself to a bushwalk – check out National Parks, State Forests, reserves
  13. Wander along the beach, feel the sand between your toes
  14. Walk with a purpose: walk to work, school, a friend’s place, bus or train station, shops
  15. Swap your usual routine and enjoy the sights at a different time of day
  16. Grab a map and compass and give orienteering a go
  17. Use a navigation app or device to pre-plan your walk – you can even be really creative by designing a funky picture that overlays the streets and then follow that on your walk
  18. Pace the paddock or local park
  19. Walk with a backpack for added load, or take some light hand weights
  20. Walking meetings are all the rage!
  21. Have a walking break at lunch time or after work to wind down and de-stress
  22. Leave your car a few kilometres from work or the train / bus station and walk the rest of the way
  23. Earn as you walk – deliver newspapers or pamphlets house-to-house
  24. Go window shopping
  25. Take your kids for a walk after school while everyone chats about their day

Walking can be your go-to exercise too!

Walking has always been my go-to exercise because I can do it almost anywhere, any time, with little equipment, no expense, and all the benefits of feeling great and knowing I’m giving my future health an awesome boost! And you can too! Start with any of the ideas above and let me know how you go, or share your other ideas with me on how to exercise on a budget. 

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

8 Reasons to Get Back to Nature

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In a world that expects us to be efficient, effective and resourceful, we risk letting go of those things that sustain our energy, health and creativity. One of these things is time spent in nature. Here are 8 reasons why time spent in nature is never a waste of time.

1. Nature is a sanctuary from the pressures of modern life

We live in a world that expects us to deliver outcomes and meet deadlines. We have constant pressure to be productive and to not waste time, energy or resources. Many people feel increasingly stretched and strung out with our outcomes-based society. Nature provides a sanctuary from the pressures of modern life. When we step outdoors into the forests, mountains, deserts, beaches and waterways, we immerse ourselves in a bigger world. We are at play, not at work.

Nature setting - beach

2. Nature gives your brain a break

Brains are like busy factories mass producing thoughts, decisions, predictions, reflections, assessments, judgements, assumptions and beliefs all whilst keeping our hearts beating and our lungs breathing. There’s a lot going on inside our heads whether we realise it or not. Getting outside into some green space gives your brain a much needed break from the type of thinking it does all day. Nature is a trigger for your brain to switch modes and operate on a different level – a bit like a mini holiday!

3. Nature restores and re-energises

When we’re busy we tend to cut back on things that seem less important or urgent at the time. Usually this means we cut ourselves short on self-care. We run ourselves into the ground working harder and faster whilst putting less priority on how we are going to sustain the pace. Half an hour outdoors can be enough time for your mind to begin to reset and for your body to feel re-energised. It’s an investment you can’t afford to miss.

Nature - mountain view

4. Nature refocuses your attention

Modern life runs at a pace requiring us to be thinking and doing multiple things at once. Research shows this isn’t necessarily the most efficient (or joyful) way of living. When we focus on one thing at a time, we tend to operate more efficiently and effectively. Although it might feel slower because you’re used to being in the fast lane, it’s actually more productive in many situations! Regular time in nature can teach you to bring your attention to your immediate surroundings. This helps you to let go of your stresses, gently engage all your senses, and refocus your attention when you’re back in your everyday routine.

5. Nature shows you how to slow down

Do you find yourself reacting to a pressured lifestyle by working even harder, hoping that when you get to the bottom of your ‘to do’ list you’ll be able to relax? Sorry folks that isn’t a strategy that is sustainable over the long-term unless you give yourself regular breaks to slow down and switch off. Your ‘to-do’ list will never go away. There will always be something else that demands your attention. When you prioritise time in nature, you learn to slow down – in a good way. Your brain has a much needed rest and you come back to your ‘to-do’ list with a fresh perspective and new energy.

6. Nature stimulates creativity and innovation

You don’t have to be an artist to appreciate the special gifts that nature has on offer. Any one of us can savour the creativity and innovation that often comes with time spent in nature. Perhaps it’s associated with the opportunity to slow down and refocus, I don’t know for sure. But what I do know is that some of my best and most successful ideas have come to me when I’ve been out walking or riding.

7. Nature gets you active

A major contributing factor to chronic disease, including depression, is inactivity. Nature is the natural antidote to a sedentary lifestyle. With so much space to stretch out and explore, so many wonders to be discovered, so much fresh air to breathe and trees to hug (well, maybe that’s just me), what more incentive do you need to get out and get active.

Natur

8. Nature improves efficiency and effectiveness

Have you ever gone in search of the perfect time management technique, tool or app hoping to be rescued from the stress of managing multiple roles and responsibilities? Despite the numerous time management tools available to us, time management is actually all about managing YOURSELF, not time. If you really want to improve efficiency and effectiveness, invest part of your day, everyday, outside in nature. If you’ve read all the other reasons why time spent in nature is not a waste, then it will be obvious to you that it’s one of the best investments you can make to improve your effectiveness and efficiency at work, home and in your relationships with other people.

Let's sum up!

Time spent in nature is NEVER a waste! Oh let me count the ways ….. (well, at least 8 of them anyway!)

1. Nature is a sanctuary from the pressures of modern life

2. Nature gives your brain a break

3. Nature restores and re-energises

4. Nature refocuses your attention

5. Nature shows you how to slow down

6. Nature stimulates creativity and innovation

7. Nature gets you active

8. Nature improves efficiency and effectiveness

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

Top Ten Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

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A good laugh and a good sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book” (Irish Proverb)

There’s no doubt about it, a good night’s sleep can make all the difference to how we feel and how well we function. In this article I share my top ten tips for a better sleep.

Sleep affects mental and physical health

Sleep is a vital ingredient for physical and mental wellbeing, yet 33-45% of adults report having inadequate sleep*. The consequences of poor sleep are not just cosmetic (“Oh gawd, look at the dark circles under my eyes!”). Of more serious concern to the individual and the whole community are health problems, worker safety and performance, and risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Sleep is complicated!

The research tells us there are many factors that affect sleep quality and quantity. Now everyone’s different and some of us are more sensitive to some of these factors than other people. It’s not a black and white science that we’re dealing with – many of the studies have been done in clinical settings (not in the home) and have tested for more extreme conditions of one factor at a time, rather than a mixture of different factors that we’re more likely to experience in our everyday lives. Sleep is a complicated process. The cause and effect is not always direct and clear, so what seems helpful at first glance (for example drinking alcohol or smoking before bed), may actually be masking the issue (such as stress and anxiety).

Find out what works for YOU

So part of the trick to getting a good sleep is getting to know yourself first including what’s most likely to help and hinder your own situation. The research base is a great place to start experimenting to see what conditions work best to give you a refreshing night’s sleep.

Plan of Action

Here are my top ten tips to improve your chances of a fabulous sleep:

1. Feelings of safety

If you don’t feel safe, have a chat with someone you trust, or your doctor or a counsellor to develop a plan to feel safer.

2. Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs … and food

Substances such as caffeine (think coffee, chocolate and energy drinks), alcohol, tobacco and other drugs may bring a temporary feeling of relaxation, but they can also disrupt hormone production, sleeping rhythms and other health issues. Likewise, your eating habits may have an impact on your sleep. Avoid spicy foods if this causes discomfort and avoid large meals and drinks at bedtime. There is some evidence that certain foods might help you sleep better – wholegrains; some nuts, fruits and dairy foods; and caffeine-free tea.

3. Pain levels

Chat with your doctor or health practitioner if pain is preventing a good night’s sleep. Pain is a complex phenomenon with a wide range of causes. There are many different pain management techniques to choose from – find out what works best for your overall health and wellbeing.

4. Medication

Some medications can make you feel drowsy, and others can make you feel more alert. Check in with your doctor or pharmacist for advice on anything to do with medication.

5. Exercise and napping

Benefits of exerciseIn my professional (and personal) experience, one of the most effective ways to improve sleep is to increase your exercise, especially in the morning. Moving around throughout the day and reducing how long you are sedentary for is also helpful. Some people find it helpful to have a short nap during the day, but later in the afternoon may disrupt your night time sleep.

6. Light and dark

Get yourself some morning light. This triggers the production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for your inner body clock – you’ll feel sleepy when it gets dark in the evening. Despite many people using TV and devices just before bed or even while they are in bed, the type of light they emit and the stimulation they provide can really impact your sleep. The recommendation is to turn devices off an hour or so before bed and don’t take them into your room.

7. Stress Management

Stress quote Dr Kerryn PhelpsManage your daytime stresses so that you’re not holding that tension when you go to bed. Learn body relaxation techniques as well as mind relaxation techniques. Mindfulness training is particularly useful. If you’re locked into a vicious cycle of insomnia, it can be helpful to have some cognitive behavioural therapy sessions to power up your thinking and make positive changes to your sleep.

8. Routine

Find an evening routine that’s helpful and then follow it. This might take some experimenting to see what soothes you and what stimulates you. Make your routine a habit, and remember that it can takes weeks of adjusting to a new habit or routine before you see the full results.

9. Environment

Are you comfortable in bed? Is it too hot or cold? Too soft or hard? Noisy? Smelly? Too light or too dark? Is it relaxing and comforting? Avoid doing work or studying in your bedroom as this can build an association with a wakeful or stressed state.

10. Caring Responsibilities

Are you responsible for the care or wellbeing of other people, livestock or pets through the night? If possible share your caring responsibilities with someone else so you can take turns at sleeping a bit longer, or a bit better.

Let's sum up!

So there you have it – my top ten tips to improve your sleep, and the best thing about it is you can start experimenting right away! If your sleep doesn’t improve after trying these strategies, make sure you have a chat with your doctor. There are some medical and psychological conditions that may need more specialised interventions to get you the super sleep you deserve!

*”Report to the Sleep Health Foundation 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults” Robert Adams, Sarah Appleton, Anne Taylor, Doug McEvoy, and Nick Antic (The University of Adelaide, The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health) Read the report 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

5 Hacks to Save Time for Busy Women

Stress management skills are invaluable, and for busy women juggling lots of hats at once, they are a necessity. So what does stress management actually look like? As with many things, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to managing stress. It’s different for everyone and everyone is different. But we can dig through the layers of stress that many busy women carry around with them and focus on a few strategies that prevent stress becoming a problem in the first place. Time is one of the most common elements that contribute to stress. Read on to learn about 5 hacks that will save you both time and stress.

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Hack #1 Be self-disciplined

Busy people are constantly on the go, moving from one task to another, often in a reactionary way. Distractions can side-line us into all sorts of things that are neither urgent nor important. Learn to discipline yourself to stay on task (unless there’s an emergency of course!) and to say ‘no’ more often. Whenever you say ‘no’ to someone, something, or yourself, it opens the space for you to say ‘yes’ to the most important things in your life. Ultimately, by avoiding time wasters you’ll save your time for the most important things in your life and feel much less stressed!

Say no so I can say yes

Hack #2 Batch your tasks

I LOVE this hack! Batching can be done in just about every area of life. Here we’re thinking about mostly routine tasks that can save you time when you use a ‘mass production’ or ‘assembly line’ approach. My favourite batching hacks include:

  • Get the ironing done and dusted all at once instead of one item at a time (and usually in the hectic rush of getting ready for the work / school day).
  • Bake multiple batches of muffins at once and freeze heaps of them for next week
  • Cook double quantity meals and either freeze or refrigerate the leftovers for another night (think savoury mince, risotto, lasagne – all delicious and can be reheated, re-purposed or dressed up for another night).
  • Work tasks can often be batched too. For myself this includes blog writing, administration tasks, making videos, and creating social media postings.

In what other ways can you save time and reduce stress by using the batching hack?

Fresh baked pie

Hack #3 Be selective

Time is a commodity that we trade for something else like money, leisure, work, travel, sleep and so on. Is there room for you to be more selective about how you trade your time? Are you unnecessarily busy? Are you trading your time for something of inferior value? If so, you can begin saving time by taking up the habit of asking yourself “Is MY time worth trading for THIS?”

time management clock

Hack #4 Delegate, let go of full control

Ouch, easier said than done! Yes I KNOW! The struggle is real when I want things done ‘the proper way’ and it seems I’m the only one who CAN or WILL do it that way. Sigh ….. let’s get real here though. When you delegate tasks you’re also giving the other person the chance to learn a skill and develop confidence in themselves. Think of the underlying message of competence vs incompetence that you send out when you’re always the one taking charge. We need our children and employees to grow skills, to become independent, responsible, competent and confident. That won’t happen if we hold onto control all the time. Think of it as an investment. The time you spend teaching them now, will have amazing payoffs in the future and definitely save you time and stress in the long term. Keep in mind the famous saying Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Letting go

Hack #5 Set your priorities

Busy people can easily get their priorities all mixed up in the hectic chaos that is life. And it becomes a vicious cycle. Set your priorities for the day and let everything else fit in around it – if it can! Stress builds up when we fight to fit things into our day (or our life) when we simply don’t have enough time for it all. And once time has gone, we can’t get it back. Be sure to fit the most important things into your day first, and anything else that stacks in is simply an added bonus!

Let's sum up!

Time management is a proactive way of managing stress. The 5 hacks outlined here will save you precious time and reduce your stress when practised regularly and habitually. Here they are again!

  1. Be self-disciplined
  2. Batch your tasks
  3. Be selective
  4. Delegate, let go of full control
  5. Set your priorities

What are your biggest time wasters and your best time saving hacks?

Take a Minute for Your Mind

Take a Minute for Your Mind LogoHAVE YOU SIGNED UP FOR MY FREE 7 DAY CHALLENGE “TAKE A MINUTE FOR YOUR MIND”? Available for a limited time only! For more information and to register, go to the OFFERS tab on my website!

 

 

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full. 

Frights, Flights, and Fears: Look back to see how far you’ve come

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Life can hand us plenty of frights, flights and fears but it’s good to look back occasionally to see how far you’ve come. I’ve been reflecting on this over the weekend when I noticed some old fears resurfacing, and rather than get caught up in the stories they told me, I chose to look at how far I’ve progressed.

I was eager to get back on my mountain bike after a couple of weeks away road tripping, bushwalking and trail running which I absolutely loved, but I also love riding my bike and Kathryn on MTB riding through a gullywas missing it. When I started riding on the weekend, I noticed some of those old worries pop up that only surface when I’ve been off my bike for a while. They used to hang around me a lot. Well actually, most of the time! But I’ve worked really hard at keeping them in their place in recent years. Deciding to blog about them has been one of the most empowering actions I’ve taken. They could no longer lurk away in the dark depths of my mind, stewing and multiplying and expanding by the minute. Many of them simply lost their power when I brought them out into the light of day. Have you read my blog about how I worked through a step-by-step process to manage my fear of “the scary corner”!

So here I was on Sunday morning with an incessant barrage of inner talk going on in my head:

“That’s too slippery.”

“I can’t ride down that gully.”

I’m going to hit that tree.”

I’m hopeless at riding on ‘technical’ terrain.”

My back tyre keeps slipping out. I can’t ride up here.”

There are too many rocks.”

There are too many low hanging branches.”

I have to go slowly round this corner so I don’t fall off.”

I’d better walk this bit.”

That’s where I fell before.”

That’s another place I fell off.”

That’s where I nearly fell on the snake when I stopped too quickly and went over the handlebars.”

..and so on and so on. It was very loud in my head!

NOW I want to say that the most powerful step YOU can take if you find yourself in a similar situation is simply this: NOTICE what’s going on in your head. Simply NOTICE. The situation doesn’t’ have to be about riding a bike. It might be the thoughts you have associated with speaking to an audience, introducing yourself to someone, going out in the dark, driving in the city traffic, swimming with sharks, flying on a plane, or absolutely anything at all! Simply NOTICE what your mind says. And with the power of noticing what’s going on in your head, you can then choose what to do next.

Kathryn looking calm and happy on her rideI’ve been practising and teaching this technique for a lot of years, and yet still I sometimes forget to do it when the moment arises. The thing is that on Sunday morning I DID NOTICE those fearful thoughts bouncing round my head. And guess what? I didn’t care about them. I didn’t let them bother me. Instead of giving them the power of my attention and allowing them to expand and bully me into playing it too safe, I chose to dig up another thought from my mind vault:

This is a confidence cycle. I only worry about these things when I’ve been off my bike for a couple of weeks and out of practice. Just ride. Focus on how far you’ve come over the past few years. Don’t let those worries bully you or keep you small, or limit the fun you’ll have today. You’re sensible. You won’t do any crazy dangerous stuff. You’re safe. Just ride.”

And so I focused on how strong I felt and that all the recent running has made a positive difference to my strength and aerobic fitness. I enjoyed the feeling of sprinting up a couple "Tough Girl" socksof short hills engaging my quads in an exertion that a couple of years ago would have been painful (if not impossible)! I pedalled in a higher gear than normal and found it easier than expected. I noticed what I did well and trusted wholeheartedly that my confidence will be back real soon. I glanced down at my fabulous new “tough girl” socks reminding myself of my strengths and the stories I can tell myself about what I CAN do. And as I looked back over the past few years, I could see how far I’ve progressed in managing my fears on the bike. I’ve developed resilience and practised some of life’s most valuable skills that I’ve transferred into other areas of my life.

Yes, frights, flights and fears will always be there, but you can choose how to handle them. Practise. Persist. And occasionally look back to see how far you’ve come.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full. 

5 ways to maximise your financial confidence

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Maximising financial confidence is not something many of us think about, yet it’s such an important topic. Financial confidence impacts the choices you make every day. Your core beliefs about money, spending, finances, savings and debt are all tied up in your financial confidence. The most recent Women Empowered retreat “Framing My Future” reflected on financial confidence and resulted in some amazing insights, affirmations and commitments by the women who gathered together.

Financial confidence and stress is often a silent and limiting roadblock that many women experience, and what’s more, many women are not even aware of its presence or its power. By digging down a bit and shining a spotlight on it, you can identify if financial confidence is a roadblock for you too. Then, you can choose what you’d like to do about it. You have the power within you to create a powerful mindset that will guide you past all sorts of roadblocks and light up the pathway to your future.

Here are five key ways to maximise your financial confidence!

1. Identify a financial goal

best things in life start with a dreamDo you have financial goals (or other goals), perhaps some goals for yourself, and others you share with another person?

How do you actively contribute to your goals?

What actions do you take or habits do you have that move you closer to your goals?

What actions do you take or habits do you have that keep you distanced from your goals?

2. Use your voice to communicate about finances

Do you use your voice in relation to money?

What words or phrases do you use in relation to money?

Where do you use these words and phrases? With whom?

Where or how did you learn these words and phrases?

How do these words and phrases contribute to your confidence (or lack of it) with money?

How do you value your own worth and how do you communicate this?

3. Identify your family financial patterns

Is this something I have control over?How did your family of origin handle money issues?

Were financial issues spoken about openly?

What roles did your parents and others have in relation to money when you were growing up?

What feelings come up for you when you think about money and spending?

What skills, attitudes and patterns did you learn from your family?

Are there any patterns you would like to break free from?

4. Understand how your brain and budgeting work together

Do you budget? Do you know how to budget? Do you want to know how to budget?

Do you know where your money goes? Where are the leaks in your budget?

Do you check statements for fraud or unexplained expenses?

Is there a pattern to your spending, eg pre-menstrual or other patterns? And how do you feel when you are in the process of spending?

Spending money can stimulate dopamine, a bioi-chemical produced in our brains that make us feel good. It can keep us spending even if we haven’t budgeted for it.

What other activities give you a hit of dopamine while you stay in control and without sabotaging your budget or goals? Eg crossing tasks off a to-do list, doing something that gives you a sense of achievement, trying something new.

5. What is your earning potential?

How do you feel about your job or role?What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?

How do you feel about how much you are earning?

How much would you like to be earning?

What limits your earnings?

Which of your inner beliefs limits what you think you are capable of, or capable of earning?

Can you identify a new goal for yourself that challenges these limits?

Let's sum up!

Financial confidence is not set in stone. It’s something we can work on in the same way we can extend our knowledge and the other skills we have. Financial confidence is just one of the many contributors to our overall confidence that is shaped by our inner beliefs and perpetuated by our habits and actions. Do your mental health and sense of wellness a favour by gently challenging your financial confidence – let me know how you go!

DNA Insight LogoDonna Neale-Arnold was my co-facilitator and special advisor at our recent retreat. She shared her warm, caring and holistic approach to financial management through a series of reflections interwoven with journalling and creative activities. Donna’s rich experience has developed through working in the banking sector as well as in community services as a financial counsellor and in the health sector with her homeopathy and holistic counselling practice DNA Insight at Red Rose Healing Centre in Warwick QLD.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

Nine Powerful Mind-based Strategies

This post is all about using powerful mind-based strategies to boost your resilience and enhance your sense of wellness. In my last blog post I stepped you through how to create your own recipe for success and happiness that grows from a base of action-based strategies. Your recipe included actions that enhance physical and mental strength such as meditation, exercise, socialising, nutrition and sleep among others. Today we’re adding to your mix with powerful mind-based strategies!

Click here to read my last blog post “Recipe for Success and Happiness: getting the mix right!”

When you have a solid routine of action-based strategies enhancing your resilience, you’ll be ready to make effective use of mind-based strategies as well (the psychological jargon is ‘cognitive strategies’). These tend to be a little bit trickier than the action-based strategies because they deal with things we can’t see, like our thoughts, feelings and attitudes. But mind-based strategies can be incredibly powerful so they are definitely worth practising.

When you combine helpful actions with powerful mind-based strategies, you’ll create a deep sense of wellness and inner strength. You’ll be better equipped to manage stresses and will be able to bounce back more quickly when life throws those curve balls. As a result, you’ll know what it is to experience success more often and your satisfaction and happiness will soar. BUT the key point is that you need to PRACTISE them. All of them. Repeatedly. Don’t give up. New habits can take weeks to gel, so stick at it!

Mind-based Strategies

1. Keep a bagful of helpful questions handy – “I ask myself …”

  • Am I using black and white thinking? Where’s the grey?
  • Am I exaggerating the situation?
  • What does this situation look like from other perspectives?
  • Will this matter in 5 years time?
  • What’s the worst thing that could happen?
  • Am I filtering out the positives / negatives?
  • Am I really to blame? Is it my responsibility to fix?
  • Is this label / judgement helpful?
  • Am I jumping to conclusions?
  • Where is the evidence that what I’m thinking is true?
  • Am I assuming I know what the other person is thinking / feeling?
  • Are my expectations realistic?
  • Am I focusing on things outside my control?
  • What would my older wiser self advise me to do?

2. Work towards goals – long-term, medium-term and short-term

Break them up into little steps and focus on one little step at a time. A personal example of mine was when I registered for “Chicks in the Sticks”, a 3 hour women’s only enduro mountain bike event. I had months to prepare myself physically and psychologically which was a good thing because I’d never been in a bike race before and was terrified at the idea! I broke my goal down into smaller goals such as joining regular group rides, developing a training plan with increasing ride lengths and levels of difficulty, and having some coaching sessions.

3. Don’t give up when things don’t go as expected

Use a problem-solving technique to brainstorm ideas (even the crazy ones!), evaluate your options, choose one option, implement it, review how it’s going, and repeat this process as often as necessary.

4. Give yourself words of affirmation, reminders that you are ok

Many of us talk down to ourselves in critical ways, we tend to notice our shortcomings and weaknesses, but there’s a whole lot more to ourselves that needs some attention too! For example, tell yourself “You did great!”, “You are enough”, “Wow you’re getting stronger all the time!”

5. Gather a store of mantras, statements, quotes or ways of being that you intentionally choose to live by

You can collect them from songs, poems, books and social media in addition to listening to your own inner wisdom. Write them on sticky notes, in a journal or diary, print out visual reminders to stick around your home or workplace, or even use them as screen savers and wallpapers on your electronic devices. Some examples include “Just do it”, “One drop raises the ocean”, “Keep it simple”, “Just breathe”, “Stand tall”.

6. Get yourself a playlist of mentors and role models

They might be people you know and admire personally, or they could be people you’ve read about, or even characters from movies or books. When you find yourself feeling anxious or angry, ask yourself “What would [insert name of someone you admire] say or do in this situation?” One of the tracks on my personal playlist is a mountain bike coach I went to a couple of years ago. I sometimes hear his voice when I’m riding technical terrain on my bike “Get down low. Lower!”, and “Look up. Higher!” These words have been invaluable as I’ve learned to manage my fears about riding.

7. At any time you can call upon 5 seconds of courage

That’s all it takes to pick up the phone, make an assertive statement, click on a button or walk away from a situation. Think what YOU could do in YOUR five seconds of courage!

8. Develop a mindful approach to living

Notice more of your inner world and the subtleties of the world around you. Really get to know yourself, your patterns, thoughts, reactions. With this powerful knowledge you can then make conscious choices to do things differently, or the same. You’ll be in charge of your responses instead of the other way around.

9. Visualise how you would like things to be

Picture yourself doing something you want to achieve, or being the sort of person you’d like to be. Visualisation can be used for relaxation (eg visualise yourself lying on the beach, your stresses trickling away into the sand beneath you) or to help you progress towards a goal (eg visualise yourself speaking in front of an audience, feeling confident, upright posture, smiling, relaxed). When I’m feeling nervous about riding my bike on a particular section of track, I stop for a few moments and picture myself riding it the way I want it to go, as if I’m watching a short video of myself successfully negotiating that section. It truly is a powerful mind-based strategy and one you can use in every area of your life.

Free printable to keep your powerful mind-based strategies in play!

So there you have it – some really powerful mind-based strategies to throw into the mix. And to help you keep your strategies in play, I’ve created a free printable for you. “I ask myself …” is a beautiful keepsake of the helpful questions listed above. You can download it for free from my website, ready to print and display. This will be a valuable tool to keep your powerful mind-based strategies present everyday.

Each month you’ll have access to a new FREE PRINTABLE on my website that will guide you on your journey of wellness. To make sure you don’t miss out, sign up for my email “Grounded Inspiration”. You’ll be the first to hear about my latest offers, news and inspirations. When you sign up, you’ll also have EXCLUSIVE ACCESS to a mini-workbook “Success & Happiness”, a unique guide to creating your own recipe for happiness using action-based strategies that beautifully compliments my last blog post.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.