The month of November held a significant awareness campaign for blokes. Blokes gave it their best shot at growing a “mo” for Movember and the theme this year was “Stop men dying too young.”

Three main areas of focus and awareness of the Movember campaign are:

  1. Prostate Cancer – kills approximately 3000 Aussie men each year. In addition to this 2.4 million men are living with a prostate problem, the most common BPH (prostate enlargement).
  2. Testicular Cancer – The second most common cancer for men between the ages 18 – 39, but with an almost 95% cure rate if picked up early, our message of “check ya balls, and get to your doctor if you notice a change” is a simple one.
  3. Mental Health and Suicide Prevention – A very complex area, but our key messages are talking about, addressing and dealing with difficult and/or distressing times in our life (situational distress). Seeking help early and getting the right help pertaining to our situation makes a big difference.

So what about you? What are the other issues that are important for blokes in Regional WA, especially at this time of the year?

In all the work we do our key message is looking after yourself first and foremost. No matter if we are a farmer, contractor, working in agribusiness, or a community member we can sometimes forget the little things, the basics, during these busy times leading up to Christmas.

Understandably at this time of the year people go hard and work long hours. Even during harvest no one can work 24/7. Here are a few simple tips:

  • Fatigue is one of biggest causes of accidents/injuries/deaths (know your limits). Sleep are we getting enough (we need 8 hours)? Limit nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and big heavy meals late at night. Give yourself a chance to relax before bed (avoid bright screens electronic devises).

  • Fuelling your body – breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. Eat a good source of fibre ie whole grains, tomatoes, and fruits such as apples, berries, citrus fruits and pears. Fibre stays in the stomach longer than other foods = feeling full for longer, slow release = more sustained energy.

  • Balanced diet is important - eat red meat, chicken and fish with some greens. Your snacks can be healthy like apples, bananas, fruit/nut mix and remember to stay hydrated - drink lots of water!

  • Road Safety. Whether visiting from the city or just not used to country roads, remember truckies are trying to make a living, we know roads are a public space but respect goes both ways. Extra trucks are going to be in and out of receival points, farm gates and at crossroads. Give appropriate space and don’t push your overtaking, be patient.

On behalf of the RMHI team please take care finishing your harvest, stay safe on the roads and don’t forget the importance of having a good break over the holiday period. It is important to recognise and reward your efforts and achievements. 

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


   

Sometimes even when we do everything possible to get it right the ball still bounces the wrong way. When this happens it is a natural reaction to ask ourselves “what did I miss” which often leads us to blame ourselves for something that was beyond our control. These challenges can include any form of personal crisis such as relationship, financial, family, neighbour and weather issues. They can affect any of us any time, the ball can bounce the wrong way!

With the latest challenges of frost facing farmers, it is easy to start blaming ourselves for the increasing number of challenges needing to be dealt with, when the reality is most people made good choices based on the knowledge had at the time.

As human beings when we become aware that we are facing new, serious and unexpected challenges our response is to either ignore them, hoping they are an apparition, or we go to the other extreme and visualize the worst possible outcomes.

While both these positions are legitimate, depending on your personality type, the reality of the situation and the solution to the challenge is somewhere in between.

I believe there are several things that can be done to help us deal with the difficulties we are facing right now (in particular frosts for the farmers) in a positive way to protect our wellbeing. However these points can be used for any contextual issue we may be facing in our lives.

  • Keep a positive personal attitude. Recognize your ability as a good farmer (or in another context a good bloke) who made the right decisions but the ball has bounced the wrong way.
  • Talk to whoever needs to be informed about your situation. This includes family, financiers, advisors and legal positions (especially in relationships and child custody).
  • Look for realistic solutions not someone to blame. These problems have caught most people off guard and unprepared.
  • Don’t panic or over-react. Most challenges take a little time to unfold and hasty decisions can create additional problems.
  • Start to consider your options. As you consider your alternatives keep those affected in the loop.
  • Consider this as a challenge more than a problem. When things are problems we usually think negatively when they are challenges we think positively.

In life we have many experiences that require us to use our best judgment, based on the knowledge we have, to ascertain the best way forward. If we are well informed it is easier to respond when the ball bounces the wrong way. This is always helped by increasing communication by both talking and listening with all concerned in the challenges facing us. Down the track with the benefit of hindsight we are able to test the wisdom or our responses.

It has been said before but it is worth repeating “success has its greatest impact on our ego, challenges are the things that strengthen our characters”.

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


   

The message that underpins everything we do at the Regional Men’s Health Initiative is "before it all gets too much ‘Talk to a Mate’. Human beings are fundamentally social in nature, staying connected and feeling valued for who we are is of primary importance to us. Talking to other people about issues in our lives or telling our stories helps us to normalise our experiences and realise we are not alone in having them. As blokes we have a tendency to retreat into ourselves when things are turning pear shaped, ‘cave time’. Much to the frustrations of most women this is a normal part of the way men tend to start processing their problems.

Metaphorically stepping into the cave can be helpful to get a handle on things but it is important that we are able to acknowledge and recognise when it is time to step back out and seek the support we need. Having a plan already in place that identifies who our mates are that we can turn to is really important. Without a network of true mates we become susceptible to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

As blokes we can recognise three main categories from where we find and establish real mate ship. These exist usually in the forms of a partner (intimate relationship), a peer (someone around the same age that perhaps has a similar experience of lifestyle and activities to us) and a mentor (an older person who’s lived experience we place value upon). A real mate is more than just an associate, it’s someone that knowingly respects and values who we are and is willing to make the time to genuinely listen to us. Think about who you would classify as a mate; and about the blokes you know who perhaps have few or none of these categories in their lives?

Often it is said that blokes in general don’t really like to talk about stuff but the reality is quite different. Given the right environment, in which they feel comfortable most men will willingly share their story and talk about issues that matter to them. Being a good mate is about supporting a person in that space and genuinely listening to what they have to say. We don’t have to be an expert or necessarily have any of the answers to people’s problems, just the ability to listen.

Being a good mate is also about actively looking out for the people we care about and taking action when we recognise that something is not quite right. A simple question like the one proposed by the recent R U OK? Campaign can be a significant step in connecting with someone and giving them the opportunity to chat about what’s on their mind. If you have a gut feel that someone you know is not travelling well ask them how they are going and don’t be afraid to ask more than once!

Remember, Talk to a mate!! It will help.

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


   

A very common issue I am called to help men with in the country is a seemingly “without notice separation” that leaves a dumbfounded male struggling to make sense of what just happened. Today women are more likely to be career orientated, more independent financially, more educated and empowered and divorce no longer carries the stigma it once did, and rightfully women no longer are as accepting of abuse or not getting their needs met.

Given this societal change there is even greater need for effective communication in relationships. Getting men to talk more is slowly changing, however, too often men tend to be stoic and un-communitive about how their relationship is going, “Too Strong and Too Silent”.

Relationships breakdown for many reasons for example: Emotional disconnection, differing views on finances; too much work; not enough time with the family; stonewalling; lack of respect; or not being appreciated; to name just a few.

If we don’t communicate what is going on within us, we are not resolving such issues and setting up our relationships to fail. A common quote is “ I tried but he just never listened” OR “I work hard every day, dawn to dusk to provide, I thought I was doing the right thing”.

If we talk about things as they arise, resolution is more likely. Men tend to be “ too silent” but again women can be as bad at communicating as well. I often hear comments like “if only she had said something” or “I didn’t know”. Chances are may-be we were told or didn’t want to deal with it or simply didn’t listen. We need to learn to communicate more and listening to your spouse is paramount.

Here are 4 tips to improve listening to your spouse:

  1. Body language: you may say you’re listening to your spouse but the body language says otherwise. Body language accounts for 93% of communication. Face directly to each other, look into your spouse’s eyes. Be cautious about your pose, things like being fidgety or folding your arms, tends to give a message of disinterest.
  2. Ask questions: asking questions shows your spouse you’re interested and heard what was said. eg. “so then what happened” or paraphrase “ so what you’re saying is …….”
  3. Avoid one-upmanship: listen to the bad day story without jumping in with your worse bad day. Instead ask questions, listen and show interest, otherwise the message your spouse gets is you don’t really care.
  4. Don’t try and fix it: this is a really good thing to remember especially for blokes. Men will often offer a solution to the problem and try to fix it. We really just need to listen and be engaged. Women prefer that blokes don’t jump in with their best solution unless asked.

Good effective communication is essential for a healthy relationship.
don’t be
TOO STRONG AND TOO SILENT

Tim 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


   

Last month was “Dry July”, which gave us a chance to focus on ourselves, our drinking habits and the importance of a healthy balanced lifestyle. Speaking with a group of blokes about this, I asked them to have a think about their attitudes towards drinking which one bloke replied “I just love the taste”. This is a fair enough response, and it’s also the same problem I have with my kids, who love ice cream and chocolate, but trying to teach them that you don’t have it every day takes effort.

The fact that going alcohol free for a month is seen as a challenge for many, highlights just how prevalent alcohol use is in Australia. Alcohol is our most widely used and most accepted drug, and over time it has formed part of our Aussie culture and identity. Its use and associations are many, including: advertising, sport, social occasions, celebrations and within the work place culture. Peer pressure does not only happen to teenagers! Think of the last time you were encouraged to have a drink when you were not planning to? As Joe E. Lewis once quoted “I distrust camels, and anyone else who can go a week without a drink.” There seems to be an underlying normalisation, glamorisation and justification for drinking which is also present in pop-culture, movies (The Hangover), social media (my “friend” who posts it’s beer o’clock).

Now I am not saying I’m a shining light leading by example when it comes to abstaining from having a drink, my arm is often twisted a bit too easy. We should all take the chance to have a think about our own individual drinking habits, behaviours and attitudes:-

  • What example do I set when I drink?
  • How often/how much am I drinking?
  • Is it to relax, cope or deal with stress?
  • Is it habitual or become a dependency?

For those who do enjoy a night out, here are a few points to help reduce unhealthy drinking behaviours:

  • What mood/state of mind am I in before I drink? Alcohol is a depressant, but can also enhance negative behaviours eg. anger/aggression, reckless risk taking;
  • What sort of situation/crowd am I drinking with? Young people, personal safety eg. am I with people I know and trust in a safe environment or am I out with randoms?
  • Self regulation - know your limits and plan ahead. Designated driver, take a swag, don’t risk it!
  • Harm minimisation. Have a decent meal, serve finger food, alcohol dehydrates (drink water);
  • Alcohol Free days. 2-3 days per week will show two benefits 1. I can go without a drink. 2. Has regenerative effects on the liver (health benefits).

During this year’s seemingly endless election outcome result I saw this creative post showing a picture of our politicians with the caption “No matter who wins they will not fix your life, better plan on doing it yourself”. Like a lot of things in life and especially alcohol we can’t expect governments and multimillion dollar ad campaigns to reduce the risk, control our use and fix alcohol related problems. Moderation, awareness, responsibility and balance is the key to our alcohol use.

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