How to keep exercising outdoors in the drought

“How CAN you keep exercising outdoors in the drought????”

I’m writing this blog post because over the past year lots of people have said they just don’t know how I can keep exercising outdoors in the drought. We typically think of nature as nurturing and health-giving, a place of solace and retreat. Being confronted by a shockingly dry environment with frequent bushfires, brown landscapes that used to be green, National Park closures, and dry waterways, it’s clear that nature has a shadow side as well.

flowers before the drought

“It’s REALLY tough!”

To be completely open, I’ve also questioned how I can keep exercising outdoors in the drought. The whole climatic situation has been tough. Really tough! The ripple effect of the drought has swept up farmers, wildlife, local businesses, ‘town’ people, and those in the cities. We’re all affected in various ways either directly or indirectly. There’s a pervasive and damaging sense of hopelessness, and like any emotion, it’s contagious. Yet a sense of hope is exactly what we need to survive difficult or traumatic situations. Where there’s hope, there’s life. Without it, we spiral into a self-fulfilling doom and gloom mentality.

Exercising outdoors has been very confronting. I can’t walk on my home trails without seeing or smelling death. The brown dust colours my view as if I’m looking through a sepia filter. Ticks are in plague proportions. Swarms of good ole slow country flies are driving me nuts. The heat is unbearable. And there’s not enough water for washing your hair after a workout.

My stress tank is overflowing! How about you?

My connection with nature runs very deep, as does my yearning to be active. But in this tough time, I also came down with shingles. My stress tank began to overflow. I had to do something differently. Bushwalking and bike riding whilst constantly thinking about the drought and feeling unwell was contributing to the stress.

So what CAN you do when being in nature is SO stressful?

You have to put your creative thinking hat on to find a solution when things get tough. What worked before is no longer effective. The questions people keep asking me (and that I wanted solutions for too) are:

  • How can I reconnect with the side of nature that heals and nurtures and teaches?
  • How can I enjoy my time outdoors without feeling overwhelmed?
  • What mindset shift do I need?
  • What actions do I need to take?
  • How can I keep exercising everyday?
exercising in the drought
Exercising in the drought has it’s challenges

So I set you to explore this new territory and experiment with the possibilities!

Here are 6 solutions that I’ve discovered. I hope they work for you too!

1. Podcasts

If you haven’t got on the bandwagon yet, then you really need to! Podcasts are audio shows, a bit like a radio show, that you can either stream from the Internet or download onto a device to listen to later. I download episodes from my favourite shows onto my phone, plug my ear phones in, and listen to inspiring, energising interviews while I walk. Instead of focusing my attention on my surroundings, I lose myself in the show and arrive back home with excitement for life and new ideas to put into action. Watch out for a future blog post about my favourite podcasts suitable for Android or Apple.

2. Set an Intention

Before heading out on a walk or ride, I often choose an intention – something I want to focus on or get out of my experience. This is a personal choice, so it can be anything at all. Some of the intentions I’ve set for myself go like this:
“Today I will notice new growth”
“Today I will focus on the sensations in my legs”
“Today I will find fun”
“Today I will discover colour”
“Today I will notice sounds”

3. Mindful Walking

With mindful walks I like to focus on one sense at a time and when I notice my mind has wandered away from my body, I gently bring it back to rest on my senses. I’ve especially enjoyed focusing on my sense of hearing – noticing the many different bird calls, the sounds of the breeze in the trees, my footsteps on the ground, insects buzzing around, wallabies bounding along. I usually focus on one sense for a few minutes, then move onto another one. With my sense of touch, I focus on how it feels to have clothes on my skin, feet in my shoes as I take a step, muscle movement, sunscreen on my face, leaves brushing my skin. When I focus on my sense of sight, I challenge myself to find colours and light and patterns that I don’t normally notice. You can also use a meditation app with a guided practice for mindfulness of walking.

4. Photography

I’ve discovered that taking photos along the way really helps me to bring my attention to the beautiful things. Sometimes I combine photography with an intention or a mindful walk so that I can collect images that bring me joy, and at the same time it helps my brain to collect evidence that there is hope.

5. Make it Social

Walking or riding with other people can be really helpful because the focus is on that invisible connection between myself and someone else. Give me a deep and meaningful conversation with a friend any day, plenty of laughs, a chance to debrief the stuff of life that drives me crazy, and to celebrate the rest. Sometimes, too, there’s a sneaky competitive edge that sees me running or riding faster when I’m with others. Inevitably that ends up in a heap of laughs too, gasping for air, heart pounding out of my chest, and the satisfaction that I’ve done my weekly interval training.

6. Mix it up

I’ve always said “I’m not a gym person”. I’ve built a business and identity around my outdoor adventures. BUT, being unwell and being in the drought has helped me re-set my rigid thinking about exercise. Instead of going outdoors everyday, I went to an aqua class with a friend, did loops of the river walk in town where it’s a bit greener, and took up an irresistible offer to join a gym. I’ve extended the variety of exercise I get which is a fantastic thing! It will help me enjoy and have greater success with my outdoor adventuring which I’m still doing at least a couple of times a week. Going to the gym also gets me focusing on my sadly neglected strength training (one of those things I really ‘should’ be doing at my age!), all whilst staying out of the flies and heat. I get to make new friends and pace myself sensibly (sort of) as I recuperate. At home I’ve also begun a more regular yoga practice – something I’ve been wanting to do but it’s been a lower priority until now.

To Sum Up: Choose Your Focus!

It’s really all about CHOOSING WHAT YOU FOCUS ON. When we feel like we have What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?no control or influence over a situation (like the drought), it’s important to push the pause button, think about it creatively, and choose your focus. Like many people, I’ve struggled with exercising outdoors in the drought. The ideas I’ve shared in this article have made a huge difference to me, my mental state and my physical health. My hope is that they help you too.

Let me know what works for you! Have you got some other ideas to share with our readers?

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 get motivated to exercise

How do YOU get motivated to exercise? It’s cold, blustery and misty outside today. I spent most of summer yearning for the cool Arctic breeze to greet me so I can go walking or riding any time of the day without feeling like I’m going to pass out from the heat. After our long, hot, drought-ridden summer, winter has finally arrived. And here I am, huddled in my flannelette pyjamas, fluffy dressing gown and hand-knitted knee rug dreading the thought of going outside.

It’s a tricky head space to be in – knowing that I advocate for an outdoor adventurous lifestyle, and yet here I am, cocooned in my layers, inside my house, and trying desperately to find another thing to delay me before I go outside.

Being very conscious that my actions and values are simply not in alignment, I’ve given myself a stern talking to this week. Motivation is a pretty fickle thing. You can never rely on it. It’s a feeling that comes and goes and is affected by many different things – both positively and negatively. Sitting around waiting for motivation to arrive is fruitless. You need to take ACTION, and motivation will follow in its own good time.

motivation is fickle

I figured I’m probably not the only one who’s struggling at the moment (tell me that is so!!), so I’ve put together a list of tried and true strategies to get us exercising, no matter the weather, and no matter our motivation levels!

18 ways to get motivated to exercise

  1. Be accountable! To someone else, like a friend that you’ve agreed to meet for a walk. Or simply write your planned exercise activity in your diary and let others know ahead of time about your commitment.
  2. Something is better than nothing! Don’t get caught in the all-or-nothing type of thinking. If you’re running short on time, do what you can – 10 minutes is better than nothing.
  3. Make exercise part of your daily routine so there is little room for debate about what you’re going to do and when.
  4. Choose your reward! External rewards work well for some people – think of stickers for your exercise chart, or buying that new piece of gear when you’ve kept to your commitment. Or do you prefer to acknowledge that you feel great on the inside, knowing you’ve chosen well despite it being difficult, or noticing that you feel better?
  5. Celebrate your achievements! Be joyful for the hard work you’ve put in. But be careful you don’t self-sabotage your efforts by spending the rest of the day on the sofa or munching on a box of doughnuts.
  6. Change it up! Any activity that you repeat over and again can lose its gloss. Change your activity, route, place or even the time of day you’ve been exercising.
  7. Change how you see yourself! When you identify with a “healthy me, happy me” mentality, you’ll focus on healthy choices. Conversely if you see yourself as lazy and unfit, your actions are likely to reinforce that attitude.
  8. Break it down! If an hour of exercise seems like an eternity, then you’re going to dread it again tomorrow. Break it down into time portions, or ‘sets’. When I swim laps, I work on 10 minute sets each of kick board, freestyle, backstroke and so on. You can break your walk or ride up into sets too, aiming for a certain number of minutes, steps, mileage or landmarks in each set.
  9. Set goals! Register for an event and use it to keep you on track with your ‘training’ exercise. Or set a new goal each week, for example to walk 25 kilometres or to go to 3 classes by the end of the week.
  10. Do what works for YOU! Get a routine going that works FOR YOU. It’s your life. Your family. Your work situation. Your community. Whatever exercise routine you choose, make it do-able for you.
  11. Focus on something enjoyable! It could be the way the grass is blowing in the breeze, the smell of the wattles flowering, how awesome your new t-shirt feels, the increasing strength in your legs as you pound the pavement.
  12. Sign up! Check out what programs, challenges and memberships are available in your area or online.
  13. Pay your way! Does financial investment motivate you? Some people feel an extra commitment to get out the door after purchasing a membership, training program, new shoes or other equipment.
  14. Get expert support! Exercise physiologists and personal trainers can customise exercises and training plans that gradually build up as you do.
  15. Do what you love to do! If dancing around the lounge room to loud music is your thing, then do it! If digging holes in the paddock to put new fence posts in is your thing, then do it! If running marathons is your thing, then do it! You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.
  16. Be realistic! Know what is do-able for you and set your expectations and goals accordingly to boost your confidence, sense of achievement, and motivation.
  17. Do it for yourself! You’ll feel better, you know you will!
  18. Do it for those around you! Exercise and nature has incredible benefits for the way our brains work, the way we feel, and the behavioural choices we make. Generally, we’re nicer people to be around when we’ve looked after ourselves.

You owe it to yourself as well as others!

And if that’s not enough reason to motivate me to get outside on a blustery day, then I remind myself that I’m accountable to the community of women around me. The women who get involved with my projects, counselling and mentoring programs. I constantly encourage these women to get outside and get active, yet I also know how challenging it can be at times. I owe it to my family, friends and the community of women I work with to shut up, show up and practise what I preach.

Women exercising outdoors

In the end, a little bit of discomfort to get going will reap amazing benefits for the rest of the day. It doesn’t sound that hard, but, man oh man, that gusty wind sure is blowing away some of my motivation!

How will you manage your motivation today?

Let me know:

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to motivation to exercise?

And what strategies work for you?

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.

Daisy Spoke: The Story Behind the Name

Kathryn Walton
Kathryn Walton: the blogger behind Daisy Spoke

Hello! My name is Kathryn Walton. I’m the blogger behind Daisy Spoke and I’m absolutely thrilled to have you visit me on my blog. I’d love to hear from you anytime and hope that we’ll get to know each other a lot more, have a chat here and there, and share stories that inspire. Stories that get to the heart and soul of the important stuff in life.

In this post, I’ll share a bit about why I created my blog “Daisy Spoke” and also a bit about the ‘me’ that’s sitting here writing. The me that’s so much more than a job title (“blogger” or “mental health social worker” or “mother” or “wife”). The real me. Where I started and how my life path has unfolded, the things I love to do, and my hopes and dreams for Daisy Spoke.

A regional life

Born in Brisbane, I’ve lived most of my life in regional Queensland including the Wide Bay area, Redlands (before it became a city in its own right), and more recently the Southern Downs. I love being close to the rural heart of our country with easy access to National Parks, spectacular sunsets, and views that go on for days and days. It’s a dream come true for my family. Everyday we wake up surrounded by native bushland and animals, and the starry night sky is absolutely breathtaking. As with everything in life, living in the bush has its harsh realities. The region has been significantly impacted by many years of drought that affects the livelihood and wellbeing of primary producers with ripple effects across the country and beyond. For myself, I also grieve deeply for the land, the plants, animals, empty waterways, and the fruit, vegetables and other plants I can no longer grow and harvest for my family. 

Study and work pathways

Going back a few years (or more!) I really didn’t know what I wanted to do out of school, and at someone’s suggestion I enrolled in Social Work at the University of Queensland. I spent the next four years feeling quite lost in my course, but stuck it out to the end. When I graduated I took on a job in child protection and later worked in youth support before making the exciting move back to regional Queensland with my husband and two young children. I completed more studies, had another baby, and over the years took on a variety of part-time and contract jobs. It seemed that as a Social Worker, there were many options available to me in regional Queensland including school counselling, hospital work, and the Child and Youth Mental Health Service. I could see gaps in the delivery of services that left vulnerable people without support. My passion for connecting with children led me to open my private counselling practice in 2005. With the flexibility of setting my own hours, I was better able to juggle the responsibilities of parenting and paid work.

From individual to group work

After many years of providing play-based therapy and simultaneously supporting parents (usually mothers) I began to offer groups and workshops for women focusing on building inner life skills such as resilience, and healthy lifestyle habits that impact positively on mental health. I’d learned how important these skills were in my own life, and I knew I could offer support to other women as they put them into practice too.

Daisy Spoke” is born

In my 40’s I discovered the joys and challenges of mountain biking. This parallel universe has never failed to deliver lessons that are mirrored in my everyday life, and so I was drawn to search for creative ways to inspire other women to engage in outdoor adventures. With the roll-out of the new broadband satellite system across the region, I had access to a reliable Internet connection for the very first time. Hence, my blog “Daisy Spoke” was born. Here was a chance to get my message beyond my geographical area, beyond the 1:1 face-to-face sessions, beyond the small group workshops. The Internet meant that I could now share stories that inspire and empower women everywhere to be the pro-active force they need in their own lives.

Why the name “Daisy Spoke?

It wasn’t hard choosing a name for my blog. Daisies are my favourite flowers. I love their simplicity, colour and tenacity to thrive in all conditions. “Daisy” is also a figurative name for all women and girls. “Spoke” is a word with multiple meanings. From a vital structural part of a bicycle wheel, ship’s wheel or an umbrella, to the action of voicing, expressing and representing. Daisy Spoke is a platform through which I can share my love and passion for those things that inspire and empower me in the hope that they might also inspire and empower you to thrive in life.

Daisy Spoke’s future

Although Daisy Spoke was founded in my mountain biking journey, I’ve also used it as a platform to share evidence-based information about mental health, wellbeing, and the value of life skills such as goal-setting, time management and self-talk. Looking into Daisy Spoke’s future, I can see her growing and blossoming, just like we all do when we’re loved and nurtured. My intention is to share more and more stories about mountain biking, bushwalking and outdoor adventuring; creating and connecting; women gathering together and gentle kindness. I want Daisy Spoke to inspire you to explore your inner and outer worlds, to get outside and to be as active as possible in nature whether it’s on your bike, on foot or by any other means, and to listen to your heart with kindness and compassion.

I’ve discovered how important it is to talk to yourself with kindness. This has been one of my lessons learned on my bike. You need to be a friend to yourself in order to get the most out of yourself: “What do I need right now? Do I need to spend time in nature? Do I need to move my body? Do I need to spend time in quiet? Or with other people? Do I need time and space to create beautiful things? Am I balancing time spent serving others, with time spent serving myself?”

So, who am I?

Hello, my name is Kathryn. I’m a blogger. I’m a mountain biker and bushwalker, a Mum and a wife. I’m a business owner and innovator. I like home-cooked nutritious food. I struggle to get myself to bed early (“There’s so much life to live!”) and I struggle to get up early (“I’m so tired!”). I’m a passionate advocate for the active outdoor lifestyle (it keeps me vaguely sane). I have a deeply creative heart that finds immense joy in sewing, painting and craft; and intense frustration in not being able to ‘do all the things’. And despite the fact that I felt so lost when I first left school, I can see now that my path was steadily unfolding before me and will continue to unfold. Who knows what’s around the next corner or the next mountain for this individual and her blog?

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.

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.

7 ways to improve your mental health at work

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We spend a lot of our waking hours in the workplace so it’s no surprise that work and personal life impact each other. It’s an issue we mustn’t ignore. Many of us have been trained or at least socialised to separate our ‘professional selves’ from our ‘personal selves’. To put on our ‘worker’ hat at work, our ‘parent’ and ‘partner’ hat at home, and our ‘volunteer’ hat at weekend sports events. We juggle the different parts of ourselves, keeping our guards up and being careful not to cross boundaries. READ “HOW MANY HATS DO YOUR WEAR?”

But can we completely separate the different parts of our lives? And should we? What are the implications, both good and bad? And how can we re-integrate ourselves when we feel like we can’t keep it all together, or when there is a major change in our work or personal lives?

The real mental health issues in the workplace

Employees, managers and business owners are all in the same boat. Where do we even begin to sort out the issues? In late 2018 Bel du Bois from Darling Downs Wellness Therapies and myself surveyed our community. The results were really interesting. 54% of people said that multiple roles and responsibilities was one of the main health and wellness concerns in their workplace. Stress, unrealistic workloads and communication difficulties also rated very highly.

The struggle to keep it all together

I know first hand what it’s like to juggle family and work responsibilities, and *try* to be calm about it all. Many of us struggle with it, yet few of us talk about it openly. We feel pressure to appear to be coping, on top of things, and to have it all together. But pretending everything’s okay doesn’t make the stress go away. Work, family, home and personal health all suffer.

Whose responsibility?

There is increasing pressure on workplaces to address mental health and wellness issues. This is great because instead of sweeping it under the carpet, we’re beginning to talk about, to acknowledge it and to manage it better.

Obviously the responsibility doesn’t sit entirely with our workplaces. We also need to address industry regulations, state and national policy, and cultural norms.

As individuals we also need to take a degree of responsibility for those things within our control – that means taking a good hard look at ourselves, our reactions in stressful situations, our attitudes, our behaviours, and the supports we choose (or don’t choose) to access.

What this means is that to improve mental health we really have to take a multi-tiered Plan of Actionapproach. We must support workplaces and managers and business owners to create a mentally healthy culture. We need to advocate for industry reform, policy and legislation that reflects a mentally healthy culture. And we need to support individuals and groups in our community to develop inner skills and behaviours (that is, the things we can control!) that enhance mental health. Read on for some tips on how you can begin to put mentally healthy actions in place today.

7 ways to improve your mental health at work

1. Remember that you are a human, not a robot. Life isn’t all smooth sailing, blue skies and cheery hearts. You have thoughts and emotions. They are real. You react to the world around you. The world around you reacts to you too.

2. Find your tribe. A supportive, open, caring community around you is what we all need. If you don’t have that, take steps to create it.

3. Build your resilience – physical and mental. The best ways to begin doing this are through exercise, having active hobbies, feeding yourself nutritious food, getting good quality sleep, and developing a powerful mindset.

4. Expand your stress management skills. You can never have too many tools in your “Coping Kit”! Read books and articles on stress management. Go to workshops. Find a counsellor. Listen to podcasts. Do an online course.

5. Find constructive ways to address your workplace issues. This may mean direct communication with your employer, industry, union or association. There may also be changes you can initiate yourself that will make all the difference eg renegotiating your work hours, equipment available for you to do your job, or the length of your lunch break.

6. Make choices that nurture your mental health and physical health. Often it’s the little things that make the biggest difference, such as choosing to go for a walk at lunch time. But sometimes we need to muster up the courage to make the bigger decisions, such as changing jobs or moving locations.

7. Ask for help. If the first person doesn’t support you in the way you need, ask someone else. Keep going until you find the right person. There are so many online resources these days that you’re no longer limited to what’s available in your local area.

Ready for more?

Wellness in the Workplace

If you relate to anything in this post, I’d love you to join me for The Wellbeing Project, a collaboration between myself and Bel du Bois from Darling Downs Wellness Therapies. We’ll be delving into these topics (and more!) in detail in our dynamic, interactive workshop “Wellness in the Workplace” to be held in Warwick on Wednesday 13th March 2019. You’ll get the latest evidence-based information and proven skills and strategies to function at your best in the workplace and in your personal life. You’ll learn techniques to build your resilience, have more energy, manage your work and home stresses, and feel healthier and happier.

Creating and facilitating workshops brings me a lot of joy. I love knowing that I’m making a difference to a room full of people instead of only one person at a time. Bel and I have thoroughly enjoyed our planning meetings at the beautiful cafes around town and we’ve got so much amazingness in store for you. This workshop is definitely not a typical ‘dry’ boring training day!

So …..

Are YOU ready to re-energise, grow your coping skills, discover strategies and techniques to use at work and home, learn ways of communicating effectively with different personalities, and discover resources and supports to guide you into the future? You can have all of this when you choose to take positive action towards better health and wellness at work by investing one day of your life in “Wellness in the Workplace”.

Read more information or make a booking for “Wellness at Work”

More workshops coming soon! Subscribe so you don’t miss out!

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 Many Hats Do You Wear?

I often wonder “How many hats do you wear?” It’s something that goes through my mind because I often struggle with the hats I wear. Some days I think my problem is simply that I have way too many hats, or that some of them just don’t suit me and I should give them away. But other days I’m all over it. On those days I go to bed feeling completely satisfied and know deep down in my heart that I’ve got exactly the right number of hats (and the right types of hats) that I need in life.

Multiple Roles and Responsibilities

“Hats?” you say ….. Well, I’m not talking here about the kinds of hats you wear on your head to keep the sun off or the cold out. Here I’m talking metaphorically about the different roles and responsibilities we each have in life. To list them all would take pages and pages, so here are a few of the hats that I wear and juggle every day:

  • mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin, niece
  • friend
  • bushwalker
  • mountain biker, mountain bike instructor
  • innovator, creator, writer
  • business owner, entrepreneur
  • facilitator, counsellor, consultant
  • community member
  • club / association member
  • household manager, cleaner, cook, organiser, shopper, bill payer, transporter
  • supporter, mentor, mentee
  • consumer

The Struggle is Real

Now if life went smoothly all the time, I’m sure I’d have no issue with my hats. But life’s not like that. Life is messy, and chaotic and unpredictable. Routines and plans go out the window as I work my way through Plan A, then Plan B, and Plan C, and then I wonder “Will it ever stop?” I’m juggling a business, home, and a personal life, switching between hats constantly. Sometimes I don’t have a clue which hat to put at the top, and which hat to leave at the bottom of the pile. The struggle is real people! So this leads me again to my question ““How many hats do you wear?” And “How do you juggle the different hats you wear?”

My Crazy Hat Lady Examples

Let me explain my dilemma a bit more with some real life crazy hat lady examples:

  • I hastily throw my ‘entrepreneur hat’ off and grab my ‘mother hat’ as I rush to meet the ambulance that’s taking my son from school to hospital after a playground accident. In A&E I’m balancing my hats on top of each other as I flit between support person, consumer, organiser, business owner, wife and household manager.
  • In my home office I put my ‘writer hat’ on but I’m wearing the ‘organiser hat’ underneath and that’s the one that everyone recognises and gravitates towards. It’s like a beacon that attracts moths on a hot summer night.
  • Sometimes when I’m wearing my ‘mountain biker hat’ or my ‘bushwalker hat’, I unconsciously slip my ‘innovator hat’ on as well. Then off I go with the fairies, blissfully dreaming and creating as I wind my way mindlessly along the bush trails which I know and love.

From Struggle to Juggle

It’s true that I find myself struggling from time to time with the multiple roles and responsibilities I have. But one thing is certain – it definitely pays to check up on the hats you are wearing very regularly. Do they still fit? Are they comfortable? Do you still need all of them, or want all of them? Is there a hat you could happily pass onto someone else who could make better use of it? Is there a new hat you’d like to try on for size? Are you basically happy with the hats you’re wearing and content to keep juggling them as needed? Or would you like to change something? Perhaps improve your juggling skills, or drop a few hats and not bother picking them up, or maybe you’ve got your eye on a new hat you’d like to wear?

Going from ‘struggle’ to ‘juggle’ is a two-part process. Firstly, you need to review the logistical side of the hats you wear. This includes weighing up your priorities, assessing how valuable and feasible each hat is, doing a cost / benefit analysis of each hat, investigating clashes between the hats, and checking how much each hat weighs. Secondly, you need to create a mindset that best serves your health and wellbeing. Are you focusing solely on the heavy weight of one of your hats and neglecting the joy it brings to your life? Or conversely, have you been blinded to the problems your hat brings because you have an unhealthy attachment to it? Think about why you wear the hats you do. If it’s out of habit, unrealistic expectations or fear of letting it go, then it might be time to swap that hat out of your collection and try on something else for size. What other changes could you make to move from ‘struggle’ to ‘juggle’?

What Hats Do You Really Want to Wear?

Doing an audit of the hats you wear can be incredibly freeing and satisfying. You will feel less stressed, more resilient and happier in all areas of your life.

  • So, what hats do you really want to wear?
  • How can you prioritise them?
  • How can you improve your juggling skills and minimise the struggling?

I’d love to hear! SEND ME A MESSAGE

Are you ready to have inspiring conversations, discover the latest and greatest proven techniques to juggle your workload, improve your sleep and manage life’s stresses?

REGISTER FOR “The Wellbeing Project: Wellness in the Workplace”

Wednesday 13th March 2019
Warwick, Queensland, Australia

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.

Adventures In the Great Outdoors

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Daisy Spoke has started some new adventures! 

Welcome to Episode 1 of The Great Backpacking Adventure in which I turn to overnight hiking to learn more life lessons through an outdoor adventure lifestyle.

My best memories and my best learning about life have come from spending weekends and holidays in the great outdoors. As a child my parents whisked us away for family holidays in our caravan or tent, taking in wonderful adventures as we immersed ourselves in some of Australia’s most iconic landscapes. We took walks in the grandeur of rainforested mountains enthralled by stories of our ancestors’ pioneering days. On secret secluded beaches we discovered ocean life washed upon the shore – evidence of another world we could barely begin to imagine. Across the deserts we drove, soaking in the wonder of the sunrises and sunsets, a land of extremes in myriad ways.

Family Beach Camping

My teenage years brought the opportunity to go camping with my Girl Guide and Ranger crews. As a restless sleeper, I knew then that my best sleeps came after a day in the outdoors, hiking, learning woodcraft skills, cooking over a campfire, canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, riding bikes and simply being with others who loved the adventure as much as I did.

Beach Adventures

It was no surprise then that at uni I met and married a kindred spirit of the outdoors. We spent our leisure time exploring all the usual National Parks trails within a few hours drive of the city, playing frisbee in the park, cycling the local roads and pathways, paddling on the bay and local creeks, and filling our lives with regular camping trips near and far.

Rainforest Adventures

As our children arrived on the scene, they too were included in our adventures which were modified to accommodate their growing needs. Nurturing their love of the outdoors has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far. To see their little faces eagerly joining in on walks, creek paddling and bike rides has been completely heartwarming. And to hear their excited voices asking questions, always asking questions, soaking it all in, enthusiastic about nature and adventure, curious about their world and seeing themselves as a valuable and integral part of it has been a spirited journey.

Trop[ical Rainforest Adventures with Children

Through family illness and injury, study stresses and sporting commitments, work pressures and ties to family, friends and farm animals, we’ve kept up our habit of spending much of our leisure time in the great outdoors. Sometimes our adventures have been confined to the backyard (albeit a sizeable acreage of dry bushland) because that’s all we could do at the time. However sometimes our adventures have taken us to amazing far off places – interstate road trips with the trailer packed to the brim with camping gear. We’ve camped and hiked in awe-inspiring places like the The Warrumbungles, Mt Kaputar, the Blue Mountains, Carnarvon Gorge, Atherton Tableland, Central Australia, Birdsville, Innamincka, Gibraltar Range and Sturt National Park. By the time Miss E reached high school, she’d spent more birthdays in our tent than she had at home.

Family looking over FNQ viewpoint

And now this year I sensed I was ready to take on a new challenge. A challenge that would combine my much-loved experiences of camping with the physical challenge of bushwalking – I decided that this year I was going to have a go at backpacking! Something I was never interested in at all until now. I mean, why would you want to carry a heavy weight on your back for hours to a campsite when you can so easily tow a trailer with everything you could possibly need (and more), and pull up right beside a campsite to unpack, in easy walking distance of the bathrooms, and with plenty of walking trails to choose from right where you are! But the inner self doesn’t always operate on logic, and I’ve learned to trust myself when I sense that I’m ready for something new. Back-flipping my thinking didn’t come easily though. I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and asking myself “why?” and I don’t really have that answer yet. But what I do have is a strong pull towards challenging myself, stretching my abilities and coping skills, and discovering new possibilities for myself, not limiting myself. Surprising as it may seem, even to me, the life learning in this backpacking adventure has only just begun!

The beginning of navigation and trekking adventures

Stay tuned for my next episode of My Great Backpacking Adventure as I take off on my first overnight hiking expedition!

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.

THRIVE for Women Online Group

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” — Maya AngelouDaisy Spoke Banner

I’m so incredibly excited to announce that registrations are now open for my online group program THRIVE for Women! Dozens of women have participated in the face-to-face version of this group over the last 6 years and now at last I’m able to offer it online so you can participate in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere else)!

THRIVE for WomenWho is it for?

Women often have many roles to fill at work, home and in the community. Self-care often comes last on our list of things to do. Yet there are many actions we can incorporate into our day to strengthen us, help us to be more efficient and effective, enable us to think more clearly and make better choices. When we routinely use these actions, we begin to THRIVE – not just survive!

Are YOU ready to take action? To be consistent with the habits that help you to feel strong and capable? To function at your highest level? To get on top of your stresses? To achieve your goals? To develop mind and body strength? To think like a winner? If so, THRIVE for Women is for you!

What topics are covered?

After many years of working with people one-on-one, I’ve created this group program addressing the issues women often share:

  • How can I sleep better?
  • How can I maintain a routine of exercise and nutrition that I love, and that is good for my mental health?
  • How can I choose and stick to goals?
  • How can I get unstuck when things don’t go to plan?
  • How can I juggle the priorities in my life?
  • How can I best manage the stresses in my life?

THRIVE for WomenHow does THRIVE for Women work?

THRIVE for Women includes a weekly group video call on different wellness / mental health topics, handouts on everything we cover in the calls (plus more!), a private discussion page, and a BONUS one-on-one session for participants at the end of the program!

** The live group video calls will be held weekly for 6 weeks commencing Monday 23rd July 2018 from 7:30pm to 8:30pm (AEST). You’ll need a device with a web cam or inbuilt camera connected to a reliable Internet connection (eg tablet, IPAD, computer). We’ll be using a safe video conference platform called Zoom for the video meetings – it’s easy to use and all instructions will be given to you before THRIVE starts!

Why join an online group?

I’ve run face-to-face women’s groups for many years now, and they’ve been so successful that it’s time to take them online! This way you can join in from the comfort of your own home. No more child care issues. No more transport or parking hassles. No more juggling work responsibilities to get to the group.

What are the benefits for me?

There are so many benefits when you join THRIVE for Women:

  • discover the latest PROVEN strategies for MIND and BODY health
  • CONNECT with other women and learn from each other in a CONFIDENTIAL and FRIENDLY atmosphere
  • grow RESILIENCE, INNER STRENGTH, SELF-COMPASSION and WELLNESS
  • develop a range of SKILLS for living a life that THRIVES
  • explore a different topic each week through LIVE ONLINE VIDEO meetings (a recording will be available if you are not able to make it to a live session)
  • PROBLEM-SOLVE the real issues that get in the way of self-care routines
  • access INFORMATION SHEETS, CHECKLISTS and a PRIVATE DISCUSSION GROUP
  • OVER 6 HOURS of access and support in a group that would cost you hundreds of dollars one-on-one
  • guidance by an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker using EVIDENCE-BASED approaches
  • participate in a BONUS one-on-one session to really make the biggest difference in your life!

THRIVE for WomenHow much does THRIVE for Women cost?

To celebrate the launch of THRIVE for Women online, you can currently register at the SUPER-SPECIAL PRICE of $175 with the added BONUS of a one-on-one session at no extra cost. (The total value of this program is over $1000, so it really is amazing value for everyone who registers for this first launch! That’s over 7 hours of contact with an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker guiding you towards a life that THRIVES, plus all the written material and resources for future reference, plus the connections made with the other group members!)

How do I register?

Registrations are easy! Simply click here to go to the booking site where you can make a secure payment online and provide your contact details. Once registered, you’ll receive an email from me with more details about how we will connect together.

What women are saying about Kathryn’s face-to-face groups

100% of past participants have strongly agreed that the group assisted them to develop new knowledge and / or skills in managing their mental health.

The best part of the group was “…..meeting new ladies and realising I wasn’t alone in my feelings or shortcomings, but then learning there are ways I can improve my life.”

“To feel comfortable with the group in a non judgemental way. Learning new ways to think and put into practice stress management. And let go of things out of my control.”

“Realising there are other ways of thinking. There are some things you just can’t control…..no matter how much you worry about them.”


THRIVE for WomenI have some questions ……..

 

If you have any questions, simply send me a message or give me a call on 0455 992 419. As always, I’d love to hear from you!