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As blokes we are all guilty of just wanting to get the job done and sometimes throw our bodies on the line without ever considering possible consequences. We see this with both young and old blokes alike, and injuring our back is one possible consequence. In fact, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare suggest that 70% – 90% of the population will experience lower back pain in some form during their life.

Back problems can be caused by a multitude of factors ranging from: a pre-existing issue or weakness we may have from childhood; wear and tear caused by the physically demanding jobs blokes undertake; or just a fact of life due to our modern day sedentary lifestyle (eg. hours sitting in trucks/tractors, office chairs and on the couch). There are also those situations where we push ourselves that bit too hard or things just go pear shaped. It’s important to recognise that our back is a precious commodity, just ask anyone who has suffered a back injury resulting in chronic pain… it can be debilitating!

A neglectful attitude is something else a lot of blokes are guilty of and this attitude can exacerbate many health conditions. This is a common attitude that underpins the often unspoken but hardwired attitude that “I am a warrior” and “it will not happen to me”. How many times have you heard a bloke experiencing pain say, “she’ll be right, I’ll see how it goes?” and puts up with his issue for weeks, months, and even years. If we’re lucky we do 5 minutes of stretching and remember to sit up straight for the rest of the day, but that’s about as far as it goes.

Proper back care should be part of our regular routine and there are simple steps we can take that will not only decrease the chances of back problems but also benefit our overall wellbeing, such as:

Exercise and stretching; the better shape our body is in with a good range of movement decreases the risk of putting our back under unwanted pressure. Try some yoga!
Proper Posture; whether it’s sitting in a tractor, behind a desk or with our feet up enjoying Saturday arvo footy, our body is not designed to be in a seated position for extended periods. Get up and stretch out as often as possible and make sure we don’t slouch or slump in our chairs. Place a rolled-up towel behind the lower back for good lumbar support.
Bulging Belly; we can’t all have a raging six pack like some of the pin up boys out there but losing a few kg’s off the guts and increasing strength around our core muscles, especially our pelvic floor, takes unwanted pressure off our lower back.
Lifting Logically; we need to bend our knees, keep our back straight, and keep the load centered to our body. Also, when we are helping our mate lift those heavy loads or rearranging furniture for the wife remember Prior Planning and Communication Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

If back pain is not resolving itself with some of these basic back care tips always consult your GP or book in to see a physiotherapist for more specific treatment and back care exercises.

Cheers

Terry and the Team

The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.regionalmenshealth.com.au


   

At Regional Men’s Health we are always promoting social wellbeing and connectedness through appropriate communication and social networks because we are all social creatures at heart. However, in some ways social media is taking over as the predominant form of social connection, especially with younger blokes. This isn’t totally a bad thing, there’s a lot to be said for being able to open a group chat with your mates and stay engaged with your friends even if your working or studying a long way from home. Social media is a form of social activity and can be very helpful, especially in maintaining friendships and as a convenient way to organize real world activities. So social media isn’t this other world as it sometimes gets characterized but can be a simple extension of already existing social groups and dynamics.

Therefore, we must be vigilant and mindful of living in the here and now and staying connected to others. This is particularly important for blokes and must be maintained through the age-old channels of community. That can be the local sporting club, either participating or watching with a friend or simply having a drink/cuppa with our neighbour and dropping in on our mates.

These are some ways to stay present in the physical world that avoid the issues that the use of social media can raise, especially if we are young. These issues unfortunately are in most cases the result of deliberate programming and design by the creators of the tech companies. That’s because Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat amongst others make their money based on advertising; it’s their goal to maximise the attention that you give to their platforms. Knowing that people are more engaged by negative emotion; things that cause us to feel outrage, anxiety, tribalism and envy are often highlighted or even manufactured to reflect the worst aspects of our nature to monopolise our attention.

It’s well-known that on social media we get shunted into our own echo chambers, socially and politically. We are also taught to value internet points that can be withheld from us, we’re shown the highlight reel of other people’s lives which we compare to our own day to day. As the saying goes “comparison is the enemy of happiness’ and young people especially are inundated with examples of lives that seem better than their own, with political information that outrages them and then the deliberate delaying of likes and positive attention on their own posts. It’s no surprise that social media can be a place where young people feel more isolated and less social.

So, what does this mean for blokes that are rightfully worried by this technology and how it affects us? Well the answer is not to abandon it, instead we must understand its limitations and its consequences while using it to its best purpose. That means instead of looking at people’s holiday pictures for hours, taking pictures of every meal or reading the latest Donald Trump controversy, use it to remember birthdays, organise a barbecue with your friends, to keep track of what music festivals are coming up and other simple activities that bring you closer to people, not feeling further away.

Cheers

Jaxon and the Team

The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.regionalmenshealth.com.au


   

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found naturally in the cells and bloodstream of our body. It is produced by the liver but also comes from certain foods we eat. A small amount of it is good and all that is needed by the body to perform certain functions however too much of it floating around our blood can have serious implications for our health. It is important for us older blokes to develop an understanding of cholesterol and especially its relationship to cardiovascular disease.

Finding out the level of cholesterol in our blood is as easy as our Doctor organising a simple blood test. The blood test will identify the two types of proteins that transport this fatty substance (often referred to as good and bad cholesterol).

• Good Cholesterol or HDL (High density lipoprotein) actually plays a protective role by returning the cholesterol to our liver where it is broken down.

• Bad cholesterol or LDL (Low density Lipoprotein) on the other hand takes cholesterol away from the liver into the blood stream.

Bad cholesterol makes up the bulk of cholesterol in our body and at high levels has the potential to stick to parts of our blood vessels building up to form plaque, restricting or even blocking blood flow to parts of our heart and brain causing a heart attack or stroke.
There are a lot of factors that influence the levels of cholesterol in a person’s blood such as our genes, age and ethnicity (which we don’t have a great deal of control over) and our diet and lifestyle (which we do have control over). This is all even more important to consider if we are already at risk of developing heart and circulatory disease due to factors such as smoking, being overweight and having high blood pressure.

Our GP may discuss medication as an option to lower our cholesterol and will most definitely suggest exercise and changes to our diet. Exercise is a no brainer when it comes to keeping our pump and pipes healthy and reducing our risk for all sorts of health issues. Dietary wise, it will involve being mindful of foods that contain high cholesterol such as meat, milk, cheese, eggs and butter.

There is a lot of evidence to support the avoidance of saturated and trans fats which are found in foods such as fatty meat, dairy products and most take away food. Both these fats can raise the levels of bad cholesterol and trans fats are even thought to lower the levels of good cholesterol. We still need to eat fat as part of a balanced diet, but it is recommended this be healthier unsaturated fat found in foods such as fish, avocado and olive oil. Foods that promote lower cholesterol include fruits, vegetables, oats, nuts and beans.

Remember, we need to get the Doctor to check our cholesterol on our next visit and discuss any associated risks that are relevant to us!

Cheers

Brenden and the Team

The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.regionalmenshealth.com.au


   

“Celebrate the power of people continuing to learn throughout their lives”, this is the message from Adult Learning Australia who want to make 2018 the year of lifelong learning. Australian and international research supports that when people take an active approach to learning in their adult years they develop skills, confidence and courage to live independently, find work and shine at new skills. “Lifelong learning” encompasses a wide range of learning opportunities from schooling, other formal education institutions, workplaces and through community participation.

Does this mean we all have to enroll in University, TAFE or a certified training course? The short answer is no, as learning is no longer considered an activity confined to education institutions. Rather, it is recognised as happening in the workplace, in the home and during leisure time. This is known as Informal Learning, which does not result in a qualification or certificate, but can be considered to embrace a whole range of activities that enhance life skills such as:
• Reading;
• Using the computer or the searching the internet (you must be careful here!);
• Watching TV / listening to the radio;
• Visiting libraries or museums;
• Playing sport;
• Attending community forums or information sessions (guest speakers);
• Joining a men’s shed/CWA/ or other community group;
• Volunteering;
• Mentoring within the workplace.

It never ceases to amaze me the stories we hear from blokes involved in WA Men’s Sheds who have either reconnected with or learnt a new skill. This in turn can create a sense of pride, achievement and that all important sense of meaning and purpose that we all, especially blokes, seek in life’s journey.

At Regional Men’s Health we talk about our social/spiritual wellbeing which is one important aspect to our overall health and wellbeing and it is this aspect of our health that is unique to the individual and can be what each of us wants it to be. It is where we get our identity, individuality, sense of self, meaning, purpose, passions and interests. Sometimes though these things do not just simply appear or develop by themselves without effort, some of us will have to spend time to grow and nurture our passions and interests.

Learning experiences may not always come our way. We may need to actively seek them out or expose ourselves to the right environment to provide this opportunity, and this could mean trying more than once. Like the old saying “if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got”. Getting out of our comfort zone, trying something new, revisiting the things that used to get us excited can help enhance our sense of fulfillment and happiness.

Cheers

Terry and the Team

The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.regionalmenshealth.com.au


   

A bloke’s ego is made up of all those things which help us define who we are as individuals, it is a construct of our personality, character, self-image, self-esteem and self-worth.
In some conversations that we have, we may think “that man has such an enormous ego – I’ve never known anyone so full of themselves!
One dictionary definition states “someone's ego is their sense of their own worth. For example, if someone has a large ego, they think they are very important and valuable. He had a massive ego; never would he admit he was wrong.”
It is the latter part of this definition that often leads blokes into spaces they would rather not be, not talking about the stuff which is important to wellbeing. This can be personal issues to do with relationships, finance, family, work and/or any other issues that are challenging us.

Perhaps part of this ego equation for blokes is enshrined in the main things we worry about, which quite often are about the traditional expectations of society, our place in society - career-wise and success wise. As a collective us blokes are still perceived by how much we are earning and how well we are doing, being defined by the work we do. We are more than this.
Additionally, our social/spiritual wellbeing needs to be better understood and made a higher priority by all blokes and society. We talk about it in all our education sessions. For us it is where we find: Our identity, Our individuality, Our own sense of self, Our sense of belonging, How to express our passions and interests. It is what each of us wants it to be.

In practical terms this is us blokes talking about and being more than our work. In conversations with each other we should be talking about the fact that we are a dad, a brother, a grandfather, an uncle, a husband, a family man, a rally driver, BBQ king, handyman, and/or chef. By talking about what makes us tick (in part, our ego) we can put a positive spin around the meaning of ego, the main one being admitting when we are wrong and/or when we are struggling with life, it is okay to talk!!

Culturally blokes in general are fixers ‘I’ll just fix this myself” so we always must question what we are fixing, how we are fixing it, and when we are fixing it? We know all men need to talk, the million-dollar question is to whom and where? Everyone needs their personal space, for blokes to engage and have a conversation we need a safe place and quite often a place with a masculine vibe, this can be represented by the men’s shed, a sporting club, a social club, just leaning over the back of the ute, or even the barber shop.

We need to have this conversation now; Our ego is not that complex, it is part of our DNA so remember our saying before it gets too much ‘Talk to a Mate!! Enjoy your holidays.

Cheers

Owen and the Team

The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.regionalmenshealth.com.au