Connected?

How is it that we have access to more information than ever before and yet, as a society, our health is, to say the least, struggling?

And that we are more ‘connected’ than any generation in history, and social isolation is a real issue in our time?

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Photo via VisualHunt

When it is laid out like that, its hard to ignore, but it’s true.  We think we are so ‘in the know’ but we often aren’t!!

The power of community is a phenomenon that our ancestors had right – they knew being part of an extended family was good for health, (for a variety of reasons) and that it most definitely takes a village to raise a child. But, here we are and it seems, we have mostly gotten ‘too cool’ for the village!  Why?  There are lots of reasons, of which, I’m sure you can think of without me!

Look, I’m not saying you should invite every family member to be part of your household/village, that would be extreme, and for some, too much to take!  Though wouldn’t it be awesome to chill out with the people who feed your soul more often?? Or just to know you belong to something bigger than yourself?

This belonging is one of the keys to resilience as defined by world-renowned Dr Michael Ungar of The Resilience Research Centre, based in Canada.  I had the honour of hearing this man speak about resilient youth last year in Brisbane – and I can tell you, one day wasn’t enough!!  He has dedicated an unbelievable amount of time to researching resilience and how it affects both individuals and communities.  You can see his work at http://resilienceresearch.org

Sorry, I’m back on topic now – communities can push us to new places of ability and belief and also keep us honest!  I’m reminded of this when sometimes I force myself to go for a run in the morning, I might not go far, but at least I go, and have stuck to my word I had previously given my inspiring friend!

My morning battle backs up what we know already.  That is – results are multiplied (in many areas of life) when you surround yourself with ‘your’ like-minded people.

A good example is weight loss and weight loss maintenance – not only does research show it is more successful in the early stages with a buddy.  But another tip to long term success is creating an environment where the new found healthy lifestyle is the ‘norm’ rather than feeling like you are the odd one out.

Reading through what I’ve written so far, I kind of sound like I’m saying just have any people around!!  I’m not, it is still crucial to choose the people you spend time with wisely, but find the like-minded people who force you up a level!!

This notion has been termed strategic alliance – its not about what you want in return, its about how we can team up to get better outcomes in the big picture of life.

For health, it means more health-focused lifestyles, not only for us, but also those around us!

For the parents who are reading, it means carefully constructing your village.  Are you part of a village?  How do you think it would be useful if you were?  Some parents can be vicious – for reasons I have never figured out.  I know you will understand when I say – parenting shouldn’t be a competition, it should be about building each other up while we figure out what we are doing – and all the while keeping your children’s self-esteem intact!

The truth is, in this modern world, this concept of community (and the power it holds) needs much work!

We need to use our online connectedness as a tool to create offline communities and villages and importantly, find ‘our’ people. 

I’ll leave you with this – a challenge to consider – What communities you are part of?  How do you contribute to them? Are you proud of your contributions?  What else would you like to get out of these communities?  How connected are you?

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Featured Image:  Photo via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/”>VisualHunt</a&gt;

 

Sleepy?

This morning when I was so rudely woken by my alarm, I seriously felt like I’d been asleep for like 10 minutes!  I hadn’t, I had almost 9 hours sleep, but it set me to thinking about how amazing sleep is!  I have always felt empathy for people who have trouble sleeping, however, never truly understood it!!!

Sleep is a human necessity and the benefits of sleep are truly astonishing!!  Who doesn’t love a good sleep??

Here is some facts I found for you in the ABC’s National Sleep Research Project (in bold)(These are from 2000 – its a little old now, but these facts are ones which won’t change with time.)

  • Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.  Being a nurse who has done some shiftwork in her time – I believe this to be true!)
  • Teenagers need as much sleep as small children (about 10 hrs) while those over 65 need the least of all (about six hours). For the average adult aged 25-55, eight hours is considered optimal.  If you have had the pleasure of spending time with an adolescent, you will know sleep is very high on their priority list, and here it is, backed by research!)
  • Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet. And further to this, backlit screens actually decrease a person’s melatonin secretion – which is the hormone that helps us sleep.
  • A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year (wow, I’ve not seen it laid out like that, any new parents out there, you are doing awesome, don’t stop reading, I promise to be the bearer of some tips too!)

And this is what I know about sleep:

Good quality sleep is good for weight loss! – Poor sleep has a slowing effect on metabolism, and we know our metabolism needs to be working well if we want to lose weight.

Lack of sleep has been used as a form of torture – prolonged periods of sleep deprivation mess with the entire body’s biological functions and therefore effect mental and physical health.

A sleep routine can actually help you sleep better.  Psst, sleep routines aren’t just for babies!!  Its not about timing how long you sleep for and sleeping for intervals and waking up, its about getting in the ‘sleep zone’ before you even go to bed.  Again, its about creating habits!

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Here are just a couple of things to try:

Try getting up at the same time each day – for people who are particularly fond of their sleep, this might be difficult to start with, but it helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm.  And when you wake up, get out of bed, so for you serial snoozers, its time to ‘disable’ the snooze function.

Avoiding caffeine after about lunchtime – for obvious reasons, being zinged up on stimulants before bed clearly has detrimental effects on your sleep pattern.

Exercise, especially in the afternoon – physically tiring, but also there is a link to body temperature and it being back to normal by the time bedtime comes around.

I’ve saved the best until last, though perhaps it will be the least popular of all…

Turn off your backlit screens at least one hour before you want to go to sleep.  As mentioned above, the melatonin secretion is affected by that light.  The ‘one last look’ at your social media for bed has got to be a thing of the past if you want to sleep better!

There you have it, Wellness Assist’s sleep tips in a nutshell, have a great, sleep-filled week!

 

Here’s to new adventures!

Today I went to my first group PT session.  Wouldn’t you think that a good couple of years into my gaining health journey, I would have been to one?!  I guess it’s just never lined up with my schedule, or perhaps I have just never made it happen.  But, low and behold, I really enjoyed it, the camaraderie was really something to be relished.

The group was welcoming, not stand-offish, friendly yet not over-familiar and giving it their all, but yet not competitive – some people would say this is tall ask these days!  Everyone was there for their own reasons, and you know what, nobody asked their reasons.  The leader, Marisa, perhaps knew some of their reasons, but it wasn’t important.  What was important, that despite their reasons and motivations, everyone turned up and gave it their all, not to be the best there, but to be better than yesterday.

‘Being better than yesterday’ is another quote I like, it supports the concept of starting from where you are – wherever that may be, as long as its an improvement on the days prior.

If I had not gone to the class today, I wouldn’t have had this new adventure and I wouldn’t be writing about the supportive network of women I encountered today.

There is always room to be better, and I reckon today, I was!  Yay, me!  I was a little proud. Though only a bit, some of the ladies should be even prouder of themselves, they smashed out some impressive fitness test results!!

My conclusion and in support what I have always known – new adventures are ridiculously good for the mind!  Sometimes they require stepping out of your comfort zone, but hey, life begins at the end of that, doesn’t it?!

Have a great week!

Will your tree grow in 2016?

What if something really disappointing happened?  What if, this time next year you looked back at 2016 and it had been just the same as 2015?  You hadn’t grown, or achieved any goals or gained any more knowledge – you were in exactly the same place as you were 12 months prior.   I don’t know about you but that scene 100% terrifies me, and I know this won’t be happening to me.  Can you think of someone who it could happen to?  What are they working towards? Or are they just getting through each day?  Do they have goals? or are they just happy to remain status quo?  Is that person you?

You see, growing as a person is a decision.  As simple as that, if you decide you don’t want to stay where you are then you are deciding to grow.  I like that.  I heard a quote recently that represented that decision and growth at the same time.  ‘People are like trees – they are either green and growing or ripe and rotting’.  The trees that are ripe and rotting aren’t learning or growing whereas the green and growing ones decide to continue learning and  add positively to their lives and those around them.  Just like trees, you can’t be both, so there lies a decision, are you green and growing or ripe and rotting??

Growing to me means you are able to recognise there is so much ‘out there’ you don’t know and that you are hungry for knowledge.  And this time, Google alone won’t cut it as a source of information!  Continuing with the tree analogy, water is necessary, the water is the resources that will help you grow.  Trees who are growing need water and lots of it.  What will your water be in 2016?  For wellness, the water is the knowledge and skills to make sustainable changes to your every day.  So if you buy lots of self-help books filled with this knowledge and skills or read lots of Instagram posts with motivational quotes, can you expect to grow? You might, but I’m guessing the odds are stacked against you, right?!

So what are the day to day skills you need to master to grow?  I don’t exactly know what will help you personally, as we know, everyone is different.  What I do know is that lots of work/time/research has been done around the world to find out what helps people grow.  In fact, a whole industry has emerged because people want to improve their health.  Yet, as a society, people want a quick fix.  At a guess, do you think the knowledge and skills to maintain sustainable lifestyle changes are acquired overnight?  Like the famous shampoo and conditioner, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen, with learning and time, that is.  I don’t think you want to be in that disappointing predicament this time next year.

So herein lies the challenge, will you take the time to ‘water your tree’ and do some learning to grow in 2016? I sure hope so.

Why Wellness Assist in 2016?

I’ve decided 2016 is going to be my year, my year to help people achieve.  No, it wasn’t that I set myself some crazy new year’s resolutions and had to commit to following through with them.  To be honest, it was that I took a look back over the last 5+ years of my life and realised how far I’d come.  Yes, I have a journey, like a lot of people, to some it might not be exciting, but to others its shows personal strength and what the mind and body is capable of.

You see, I’ve lost weight, and I’ve put weight on, and then lost it again. Its not lost, like I’m looking for it, its lost like, I said, good riddance when it ‘disappeared’.

With the ‘losing’ of weight, I’ve gained both physical and mental strength and I can say, with conviction, that I’m not going looking for the ‘lost’ weight any time soon….  With the loss though, came so many gains.  I’ve gained so many things, including health, muscles, confidence, friends, and new experiences – some I continue to use, others I would rather forget – like when I fell off my bike during an enticer triathlon….FYI after a few cracks, I’ve decided triathlon isn’t my sport, though I did try!

So, while you could say I wasn’t enticed by triathlon, I wasn’t discouraged either, I’ve just shifted my focus, to being the best version of myself.  I know that’s a bit cliche’, not sure whose line it was first, but I want to be someone my boys look up to.  Yes, I’m a Mum to two handsome and boisterous boys, and I must say they are part of many of my reasons for making sustainable lifestyle changes.  I’m also a wife, I’ve been lucky enough to be with my awesome husband for almost 10 years now, wow, that makes me feel a little old!  He too, has a journey, but I don’t have his permission to share, so that is for a future blog. The other main hat I fashion is that I’m a Registered Nurse, I wouldn’t say it defines me, but certainly has presented some interesting life experiences since I graduated 13 years ago!!  As we all do, there are other titles I hold dear, though, it wouldn’t leave much to talk about if I spilled them all now, would it?!

So I invite you to join me, join my blog and find out about the cultivating that has gone on since the start of this journey I speak of!  I look forward to sharing and perhaps even helping you achieve!

Bring on 2016!!