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Doctors healthcare medicare Uncategorized

How mindfulness can help during Lockdown

In this article, provided by Smiling Mind, we look at how mindfulness can help during lockdown

We are living through an unprecedented and uncertain time, requiring each of us to navigate our way, as best we can, through a rapidly evolving global health crisis.

With things changing so quickly, such uncertainty and unpredictability can take a toll on our mental and physical health.

Managing our emotions and supporting each other can be challenging at the best of times. This is why, more than ever, we all need to be doing our best to regularly pause, take a breath and be proactive in looking after ourselves and others.

” Moment by moment we can make our way through”– Sharon Salzberg

We know that this isn’t always easy, and we want to support you. In this article, you will find different practical things you can do to take care of your own wellbeing, as well as support the children in your life, your colleagues, loved ones and friends.

This resource takes an evidence-based approach to offering you practical tools and techniques to help manage uncertainty, reduce anxiety and stay connected and grounded.

Mindfulness provides us with a means of cultivating greater and more objective awareness of our own emotional landscape, the emotions of others, and of external circumstance.

In doing so, it gives us more choice in how we respond to challenges we may face and the ability to more consciously choose where we place our attention.

Wherever you are in the world we sincerely hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy. In the words of one of our favourite meditation teachers: “Moment by moment we can find our way though” – Sharon Salzberg.

Fear, anxiety & denial

Acknowledging that feeling fearful and anxious at a time such as this is not only normal but appropriate. Given the nature of the threat we are facing, fear and anxiety are adaptive responses as they alert us to the fact that we need to be taking appropriate action to keep ourselves and others as safe and healthy as possible.

It’s also important to recognise that fear and anxiety can quickly escalate and reach a tipping point beyond which they are no longer helpful and can affect us in negative ways. When the acute stress response, otherwise knowns as the ‘fight or flight’ response, kicks in we’re not as able to think clearly or make good decisions; we become more reactive and less responsive; and our thinking can quickly spiral, becoming increasingly negative and difficult to unhook from.

Warning signs

Mindfulness helps us get better at recognising and understanding our own personal signals that tell us we’re close to our tipping point. We can think of mindfulness as being like our own personal ‘fear and anxiety thermometer’ helping us get to know our own warning signs and recognise them as they’re kicking in.

Examples include:

  • irritability
  • losing patience
  • a sense of urgency
  • difficulty sleeping
  • inability to focus
  • catastrophic thinking
  • ruminating
  • eating or drinking more than usual.

In addition to knowing and recognising our warning signals, mindfulness gives us the opportunity to respond by taking steps to settle and soothe our nervous system, which in turn enables us to think more clearly, make better decisions and respond as opposed to react.

Beware denial

It can also be tempting to turn away from and deny the seriousness of what’s happening. Denial may be particularly appealing given the significant impact that this outbreak will have on so many people financially, emotionally or physically. While temporary distractions can be useful for giving our minds a break, on the whole denial is not a helpful approach. It can leave us vulnerable and exhausted as it may lead to not taking appropriate precautions and it’s difficult to sustain in the face of reality.

Mindfulness can help us see things more clearly, which in turn helps us strike a balance between staying informed and making sensible choices without becoming overwhelmed.

Healthy brain breaks

Giving your brain a break when you’re nearing your tipping point can be a helpful way of deactivating the acute stress (‘fight or flight’) response. Even short moments of reprieve are beneficial as they help reset enabling us to find the middle ground between overwhelm and denial. It’s in this place that we’re able to make better choices and are best placed to support ourselves and those around us.

We recommend trying out the following as often as you need to:

Move

Any kind of physical movement is a great way of releasing the build-up of excess energy that accompanies the acute stress (‘fight or flight’) response – take yourself for a walk or run outside; do some stretching, yoga or some other form of mindful movement; or crank some uplifting music and dance around the house for a few minutes.

Breathe

When you slow your breathing rate down the uncomfortable physical sensations of fear and anxiety start to subside. Try the following:

  • Stop what you’re doing, take three long, slow deep breaths.
  • Impose a rhythm on your breathing so that your out-breath becomes longer than your in-breath.
  • Try a 4-2-6 rhythm – e.g. breathe for 4 counts, hold your breath for 2 counts, and breathe out for 6 counts.
  • If that doesn’t feel comfortable, try imposing a 3-1-4 rhythm. The main thing is that your out-breath is slightly longer than your in-breath.

Ground

Connect to what is happening in this moment right now more consciously engaging your senses. Try the following:

  •  Splash cold water on your face
  • Take a hot (or cold) shower
  • Cuddle your pet
  • Smell and/or diffuse a relaxing essential oil (i.e. lavender, geranium, ylang ylang)
  • Take a moment to enjoy a cup of tea – really pay attention to the aroma and taste
  • Do one of the following short guided grounding exercises from the ‘Stress Management’ program in the Smiling Mind App.

“Staying connected to others is more important than ever”

Sleep

When we’re fearful and anxious it can be hard to sleep. Given the importance of sleep for our mental and physical wellbeing, including immunity, establishing good habits around sleep is particularly important at the moment.

Consider creating a pre-sleep routine by turning off news and screens at least an hour before going to bed. If you wake during the night and find you can’t sleep, rather than sit lay there and worry, try a meditation from the ‘Sleep’ program in the Smiling Mind App.

Connect

While social connection may be tricky during this time when many people are physical distancing, staying connected to others is more important than ever as we are wired to connect and seek comfort and care from others. We are fortunate to have so much technology at our fingertips enabling us to stay connected to family, friends and colleagues.

Try using video conferencing technology so that you can see each other, as we communicate best when we can see each other’s body language and facial expressions. Do your best to listen and interact as mindfully as you can with others – really pay attention to the people you’re interacting with.

Contribute

Contributing to the wellbeing of others helps shift our attention from ourselves onto what we can do for them. This helps us connect with others; gain a sense of agency, even if only in a small way; plus helping others also positively impacts our own wellbeing.

Consider how you might help others at this difficult time. For example, you could support a local business you value that is likely struggling at the moment or check up on an elderly friend or relative.

Create healthy habits

Mindfulness can help us create healthy habits to keep us and others as safe and healthy as possible. For example, washing your hands mindfully and taking care not to touch your face.

This article was originally published by Smiling Mind.

For general information about looking after yourself during the coronavirus outbreak, visit Beyond Blue’s dedicated page here.

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Doctors healthcare medicare Uncategorized

Social Prescribing the new prescription

A new report from the RACGP and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF). has found that the use of social prescribing is likely to counter rising chronic health problems.

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said. ‘At the frontline of healthcare, GPs are best placed to employ social prescribing to help improve their patients’ health and wellbeing,’

The United Kingdom has used this apprach successfully as have other countries including promising trials in Canada and Singapore. It can help shift the balance to focusing on prevention and early intervention for patients.

We urgently need to consider our approach to healthcare in Australia, with huge challenges in rising chronic illness, mental health issues, isolation and loneliness plus the associated costs

‘Social prescribing offers an innovative solution.’

Social prescribing involves the referral of patients to non-medical activities, ranging from health and fitness programs to movie clubs and meditation.

This report follows a roundtable co-hosted by the RACGP and CHF in partnership with the National Health and Medical Research Council Partnership Centre for Health System Sustainability, and a consultation process. It recommends that social prescribing be incorporated into routine healthcare in Australia.

In a survey commissioned for the initiative, 70% of GPs said they believe referring patients to community activities, groups or services helps to improve health outcomes, but most do not have links with such services.

Some GPs are already employ social prescribing, but more resourcing and recognition is needed to implement it in a sustainable way said Dr Nespolon.

‘Social prescribing offers a huge opportunity to improve patient health and wellbeing and cut the costs of chronic disease, but it won’t happen unless everyone can access it,’ he said.

Leanne Wells, CHF Chief Executive Officer, describes social prescribing as a ‘vital development for patients’.

‘[It] can help to address the social determinants of health, such as low education and income, which can affect people’s health and wellbeing,’ she said.

‘It has become particularly important given rising rates of chronic illness, mental health issues, social isolation and loneliness, many of which cannot be treated effectively with a medical approach alone.

‘We need to find more effective ways to keep people out of hospital in order for our health system to remain stable.’

For future information please see RACGP

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Uncategorized

Disability & Australias Housing Crisis

As some of you know I have been working my arse off, these past few years to regroup after years of chronic health and 7 years of misdiagnosis and NO MEDICATION. 3 years ago i was unable to toilet or shower myself without aid and help from family and friends, it was my lowest point and circumstances prompted me to seek additional medical advice. 3 years later i am correctly diagnosed, on substantial medication and as of next month will have met the criteria for specialist but $$$ medication. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TAX DOLLARS, they have and will keep me out of a permanent wheel chair. Sadly 7 years of misdiagnosis means substantial and irreversible damage has been done to my body, but i have returned to study and am eagerly working with my specialists to return to work on a low capacity.Much of my eagerness is based around the 12 years i cared for my chronically and terminally ill mother. I saw first hand the effects of poverty and long term chronic health. Trust me when i say the only thing worse than living in poverty is dying in it. So i eagerly hope towards changing my future, but sadly I feel this is the cost of growing up in what i perceive as Australia most financially underprivileged generation.Over the past 6 months or so I’ve been trying to educate myself and create a functional ten year budget that includes home ownership and this is the math I’ve come to.Starting mid-2019, assuming I work 2 days per week at $35ph and still get some Centrelink I should expect to earn $1500pf in income.The average Villa/Unit in Queenslands Burpengary/Caboolture/Deception bay areas is $235,000 its more or less the same in Regional Victorias Traralgon – greater region and even the Southern suburbs of Adelaide. Brisbane’s property market is holding steading and according to domin.com.au is expected to increase in price by up to 5%PA over the next 10 years, so I can expect the medium unit price to be $300,100 in 6 years’ time.I will need at least a 20% deposit to not pay lenders mortgage insurance, more if they penalize me for a part pension income, which sadly is possible. A higher deposit potentially also helps negotiate a lower interest rate, although that too is highly likely to be impacted by perceived ‘socio-ecconomic’ statusWith an income of $1500 PF I can expect to save $500pf towards a mortgage a $100pf saving will go towards every day expenses. $450 paid in subsidized rent! Thus it will take me 4.62 years to save a $60,100 deposit. Keeping in mind I have 1 year of study ahead of me as of today’s date to return to work and I will need a few months to move and settle in etc.. I can expect it to realistically take 6 years to save a mortgage deposit.The current average low interest rate is 4.2%, but that interest rate maybe as high at 8% in 6 years. I will need to pay $8k in establishment fees, not including stamp duty; $16k with stamp duty included.QLD & SA currently have a $20k First home owners grant and free stamp duty for FHO but that may not be around in 6 years.Minus the $60,000 mortgage deposit, I can expect a$240,000 Home Loan@ 8% Interest rate$10 Monthly mortgage fee25 YearsRepayments will be $859 PFKeeping in mind incomes have stalled but CPI has not and this is likely to continue for many years to come, my maximum affordable repayments will be $900,00pfThus I do not see myself affording a home in the foreseeable future and considering stagnated wage growth and decreasing housing affordability, I suspect a recession will be Australia’s 20 year future.On average you will live through two recessions and one depression in your life time, and given the current state of Australia economy, i fail to see how a single person from my generation can afford to buy a home without one. Sadder still for the folks caught out in one, who this is equally unfair to.I’m discouraged because i fail to see what anyone let alone our government is doing about this, they can guarantee AAA rated banks and they offer a first home owners grant but heaven forbid they do something about the greater underprivileged who can not afford housing without help. How is it, no one has thought to offer a Lenders mortgage insurance guarantee or exemption for under privileged households who can show proven savings histories and good credit ratings. Or what about subsidized mortgage interest rates, either would be good option for folks like me, who comfortably handle a budget and just need a LEG UP and not a hand out. At the current rate folks everywhere like me who could handle a mortgage will be permanently priced out of the market with no hope of recovery. Let me tell you when it comes to chronic health and housing needs THERE IS NO DIGNITY IN RENTING! and it seems cruel to force folks like me further into the shadows while the middle class thrive. God help the folks who have zero hope of returning to any work capacity.

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Australia healthcare Uncategorized

Immune Boosting Chicken Soup Recipe

My mum and i created this recipe back in 98, after i suffered a severe bout of bronchitis and pneumonia and my mum who has lupus, was struggling to survive the winter herself. Since making this soup i can honestly say 12 years later, neither of us, have ever gotten that sick again. We both keep a store of this in the freezing so if we feel anything coming on, were quick to nip it in the bud with out kills everything immune boosting soup.

  • 8 – 9 chicken lovely legs, skinless
  • 8 – 10 chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 – 3 small red chillies (Remove the seeds if you don’t like it too hot as they’re the hottest part, or just use one chilli. But you must use small chillies because they loosen mucus.)
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • Oil
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 2 finely chopped carrots
  • 1 – 2 handfuls corn
  • 1 cup macaroni pasta
  • 2 – 3 handfuls baby spinach

Heat the oil in a stock pot and brown the chicken, garlic, onion, chilli and ginger. Add the chicken stock, carrots and corn. Bring to the boil, and if needed add water. Simmer for 15 – 30 minutes. Take out the chicken, pull the meat off the bone, break meat into small pieces and put back in the pot. Add macaroni and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Add baby spinach, taste, add salt and pepper if needed, then serve.

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Australia domestic violence, family violence mysogyny sexual assault trauma Uncategorized

Social and Female Misogyny in Australia

Female misogyny is a big concern of mine, and a huge social issue here in Australia. Women degrading other women, because their women. Women who think women are nothing, incapable or incompetent with out men. This attitude can not be seen more clearly than in the treatment of our first female priminister. Julia Gillard is being critisied and objectified because she is a un-married women with out children. Other women consider her unfit to run the country, but when asked why, thier examples are “she’s a red head, we all know red heads are unreasonable and hot tempered, she has a big arse, flat tits, bogan accent, she doesn’t understand what it means to be married and therefore can not relate, she doesn’t have kids and thus can’t relate, she lied about the carbon tax, she’s just another lying manipulative bitch”. Of course none of these statements are true, but that doesn’t stop men and women treating our first female priminister with less respect than any other priminister in history. They don’t call her by title, instead they call her “bitch, cunt,ranga, whore, barren hoe, slut, that women, she, jules, Julesy and “her” but society at large and the media, almost never call her “Priminister”Or “Gillard”. This level of disrespect has never and is not happening with our male politicians, they are all still accorded the respect of their title and position and lies by men are considered standard politics, but “Gillard” who did not lie, but rather was forced into a position of minority leadership and therefore had to compromise with the leader of the senate Bob Brown, thus going back on her promise not to institute a carbon tax. Is being held accountable for a tax that Bob brown created and that benefited all Australians. Bob brown has not been held accountable for the tax that Australia hates, but financially and environmentally benefited everyone. The primister on the other hand is still being bullied and hated for it, one prominent journalist even went so far as to say “Priminister Gillards, father died of shame”.Julia Gillard will eventually go down in History as one of Australia’s most successful Priministers, but that is not what this country cares about. Gillard has successfully passed more policies in her term than any other politician in history, she has also been the only politician to actually make the massive social reforms that she promised for example she has instituted the nation disability insurance scheme. Australians will pay an additional 3% levy in their tax, but disabled Australians everywhere will now have access to funds that will enable them to buy the things they need to return to work, thus paying taxes and not receiving a pension off the government. She has also implemented the Gonski program for schools, ensuring that no child in Australia regardless of socio-economic standards will go with out a education. Disabled and under privileged children everywhere will soon be receiving the same education standard as their wealthy and healthy peers. She has made massive changes to parenting payments, allowing both partners more time at home with their kids and don’t even get me started on our highly successful economy that is the envy of the world. In deed as the facts stand, Julia Gillard is the most philanthropic politician Australia has ever seen. But the media does not talk about her success just her big arse, flat tits and marriage status, the Australian media would have you believe that because Ms Gillard and her Partner Tim Mathieson  who is a hair dresser and are not married, they are both gay and living double lives. Yep in Australia, aesthetic appearances have become more important than policies. They harp on about a innocuous carbon tax, that she instituted a year ago with out any financial or social damage to our society, but because this tax was something Australians did not understand and therefore did not want, she is still be punished for it, the opposition actively uses it as a tool to prove “she” (they refuse to use her name, calling her only by gender) can not run the country, the use phrases like “she needs to make a honest woman of her self and repeal the carbon tax” such comments are a not so subtle way of reminding Australians that she isn’t married and of course all unmarried women are dishonest. They mock her repeatedly by getting their press pictures taken beside opposition supporters banners with the words “ditch the witch” and “ditch the cunt”. Recently while attending a state political dinner, the opposition gladly ate a main meal entitled “Julia Gillard, Kentucky friend Quail, small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box. The opposition leader apologized but refused to sack or reprimand MP Mal Brough for his actions in approving the menu at the dinner hosted by himself. Despite this blatant misogyny the media is still prophesying the end of Gillards leadership, they claim, that Abbot will win by a landslide in the September election. It is my hope, that like America, where the media prophesied a landslide victory by Romney, Australian media will also be wrong. Abbots approval rating is low, but his inept, POLICY FREE party has a slightly higher approval rating than Gillards Labor party. And i do mean policy free, Abbot  is so sure of his victory he has refused to release any policies pre election. It is my hope that at this election if people won’t vote for Gillard they will at least vote independent. It will most likely mean Gillard will once again be forced to work with a minority government, but she will still be a better leader than the Misogynist Abbot. I just hope the rest of Australia sees that too, but sadly to many men and women agree with the sentiment of one anonymous writer from the website http://www.whatmenaresayingaboutwomen.com who wrote “One can be guaranteed with feminist Julia Gillard in Power. The lies, hypocrisy and incompetence will be clearly demonstrated and promoted under the guise of how brilliant leftist females are at destroying a country.”The above example of social misogyny that is sweeping our country sickens me and it needs to be stopped, whether Gillard is our priminister or not and before the systemic misogyny becomes ingrained in our society and increased levels of domestic and intimate partner violence not only increase but are tollerated as normal.

This is expecially fearful for people with a disability and those living with a disability or chronic medical condition have a higher risk of experiencing violence than people without disability. They can also experience more barriers to access support services.

Family violence is a gendered crime. Evidence indicates that family violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women and children.  Male violence against women is often characterised by the misuse of power and control within a context of male privilege. Women are not inherently vulnerable or ‘at risk’, but are made so by policies, structures, and systems. As such, some women are at greater risk of experiencing family violence.

Compared to women without disability, women with disability:

  • Are at greater risk of severe forms of intimate partner violence
  • Experience violence at significantly higher rates, more frequently, for longer, in more ways, and by more perpetrators
  • Have considerably fewer pathways to safety
  • Are less likely to report experiences of violence

In addition, women are more likely to be seriously injured or killed when they are planning to leave the relationship, or in the months following separation. This is owing to the perpetrator’s sense of entitlement, ownership, and perceived loss of control of the victim.

For these reasons we work closely with domestic violence and sexaual assault support organisations to ensure not only that out practice reflects an accurate understanding of the risks involved but also how to best handle complex situations.