There are those extra busy times on the farm like the coming seeding season where it’s all go. It may mean longer than normal hours and possible sleep deprivation. A lack of sleep not only reduces our ability to perform work effectively, it also reduces our ability to work safely.

Some have regarded sleep as a useless waste of time with no purpose - NOT TRUE.
Science and medicine are discovering more and more about the role of sleep, especially deep sleep, and its influence on our mental and physical wellbeing and health.

How much sleep do we really need? Eight hours seems to be the standard amount of sleep recommended at night but this is not true for everyone:

  • Infants and toddlers need most - 9 to 10 hours at night plus day naps;
  • School age including teenagers - do best with 9 to 11 hours at night;
  • Most adults - 7 to 8 hours a night;
  • Older adults need the same as younger adults but sleep lighter and for shorter periods than younger adults.

Some people just need fewer hours of six or less a night without ill effects. The need for less or even more sleep can run in families (suggesting a genetic basis).

What are the effects of lack of sleep? While we’re sleeping, our body is busy tending to our physical and mental health and getting us ready for another day. Lack of sleep leads into:-

  • Mood swings;
  • Drowsiness and irritability during the day;
  • Impaired judgement and reaction time;
  • Poor concentration, hinders memory, attention;
  • Poor physical coordination - dangerous accidents;
  • High blood pressure, heart disease;
  • Depression.

Regularly sleeping less than 5 hours is associated with poor physical health. There is a debate whether poor health causes lost sleep or lost sleep results in poor health?

Sleep may be more difficult to come by as we age and this can be traced to treatable health issues that cause interrupted sleep. Some factors that could cause sleep difficulties:-

  • Sleep disorders - sleep-apnoea, restless leg/arm syndrome, leg cramps;
  • Pain from conditions like arthritis, heartburn, back pain, headaches;
  • A frequent need to urinate;
  • Illness - depression, coughing, shortness of breath;
  • Medications - some medications can disrupt sleep;
  • Menopause - hot flushes, night sweats.

Some helpful tips for getting a good night’s sleep are:-

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, this synchronizes our body clock;
  • Aim for daily exercise before evenings;
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol;
  • Relax before bed i.e. warm shower/bed or reading;
  • Keep bedroom quiet, dark and a comfortable temperature;
  • Use bedroom/bed only for sleeping or intimacy - not as a lounge room for watching TV, studying i.e. the bed is associated with sleeping;
  • Follow medication advices.

As a general rule, if we can’t sleep, we shouldn’t lie in bed. Leave the bedroom and do a quiet activity that doesn’t stimulate us.

To help maintain a healthy lifestyle we all need to contemplate “what is an adequate amount of sleep for us personally” and visit our GP for treatment if we are amassing a huge “sleep debt”.

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.


The Regional Men’s Health Initiative team talk to a lot of blokes, the other side to this is we also do a lot of listening. One comment that comes up, especially from men of the older generation is “I wish I had spent more time with my kids” or maybe “I spent my life busting my guts working, I missed out on a lot of the little things”.

Life can definitely be a double edged sword at times, and I personally have the utmost respect for men who saw their primary role as the breadwinner and gave precedence to their work, with the best interest of their family in mind. The downside to this, of course, was that these men were quite often too busy with work, or away from the family, to be able to commit time at home to do some of the little things that are now considered normal.

My partner did an amazing job giving birth to all three of our children at home (under the supervision of an experienced midwife) and I was actively encouraged to be involved through all stages of the pregnancy and birthing process. My experience, of course, is vastly different to that of men from my grandfather’s era, who were told by the midwife “well you have done your job, we’ll let you know when we need you!”

In today’s society the family structure varies and there are no set rules on who does what. Women have historically been considered the carers and nurturers, but they may also have careers of which some were once considered “men” only professions. The question I have is “are we as open and accepting of men who show both a nurturing and caring side as well as a commitment to his working and professional career”? Is this balance possible?

Spending time with the kids is definitely a priority for many blokes and I believe some of the most enjoyable and rewarding times comes from being in their company. Don’t get me wrong we will all have times when we’re challenged, tested (definitely our patience) and sometimes even question our ability as a father, this is normal. In addition to this we need to be aware of and also manage our work, spend time with our partner and make time to explore our own passions and interests (self-care).

A few tips for father and/or father/mentor figures out there:

  • Don’t be afraid of the everyday tasks when your child is born; changing nappies, bathing, feeding, they’re all important bonding opportunities.
  • As your kids grow get to know them and take an interest in their passions, interest, hopes, dreams and schooling.
  • Talk to your kids, ask them how their day was, tell them about your day, and reading is one of the simplest beneficial things you can do.
  • There is a saying “if we spent twice as much time and half the amount of money on our children we and they would be better off”. Keep it simple, time and presence is the most precious gift.

To those men out there who may carry feelings of regret, guilt or loss about what they missed out on with their children, don’t forget that any guy can be a dad but it takes someone special to be a father. Even if your children are now adults don’t forget every child, no matter what their age, seeks the approval of their father. Tell your kids today that you’re proud of them and you love them.

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.


Political correctness is a doctrine “which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a bit of shit by the clean end”. In my opinion, political correctness is a major inhibiting factor when interpreting and applying bureaucracy and common sense (often the ingredient missing of lots of decision making) into our daily life. This ultimately can affect our wellbeing.

Bureaucracy on its own does have its place, however at times it can limit how we do things because of the many layers of rigid rules that may complicate getting the job done on the ground. This occurs in everyday life whether completing tedious processes, filling out pages of paperwork, or dealing with a system that appears to be more focused on processes rather than helping achieve an outcome. 

When a disaster strikes (catastrophic fires late 2015 and early 2016) and other personal health and safety issues arise in our life, layers of bureaucracy are not always helpful, they can exacerbate an already tense environment. We have spoken to many blokes who feel both frustrated and restricted in their reactions to these disasters because of the many layers of procedures that had to be adhered to. Common sense was taking second place!

The point about the effects of this political correctness doctrine, is that it enshrines both bureaucracy and common sense and quite often masks/dilutes what should be done and said and can also inhibit robust discussions.

Blokes, by our own nature are hard wired to be action orientated, i.e. we want to solve problems, and we want to do stuff now. Once this is stifled by political correctness, a few things can start to happen:

  • normal stress can become distress;
  • short cuts can be taken (with increased risk);
  • we inhibit our natural problem solving process;
  • blokes shut down and stop seeking help (we go into our cave and don’t come out).
  • It creates an “us versus them” mentality.

So where have we gone wrong and how can we make changes?

  • Don’t allow political correctness to mask what should be done and said. Sometimes we have to be critical and blunt about our processes to keep them relevant and up to date.
  • Bureaucracy should facilitate what we do, not dictate how we do it (not create barriers and thus frustrate people who are trying to deal with a challenging situation at the coal face).
  • The common sense rule should be applied to everything we do. I repeat, apply it to everything we do.
  • People/communities have the innate ability to band together and deal with stressful situations. This should be fostered thus empowering individuals and communities rather than disempowering through micro-management and removing them from vital decisions regarding their own lives and local community.
  • “Language” is always important. Appropriate language that can be understood needs to be used. A robust discussion is vital to air all points of view and to prevent the same mistakes being made again.

Remember at the end of the day we are responsible for our own wellbeing. Hopefully these suggestions, encourages communities to claim back some responsibility and ownership. This would bring about positive change not only in blokes lives but the whole of the community.

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.


I was speaking with a bloke not long ago, “Joe”, who was feeling really frustrated trying to help a mate who was more or less avoiding his attempts at support and refusing to seek help, even though he was obviously in some emotional distress. As is often the case Joe felt powerless in this situation and asked how he might better approach things.

So what do we do when someone close to us, often a friend or family member won’t seek help? How do we manage the sense of obligation we may feel or the emotions that come with this?

It’s important firstly to try and understand the reasons why some people are less likely to seek help when it is needed. We need to recognise that often when people are in the middle of a tough situation simply making a decision to admit something is wrong can be a difficult and daunting thing.  It can take time for some people to become comfortable enough with their situation to then contemplate the idea of accessing help. For others, negotiating feelings of embarrassment and shame can be quite overwhelming.

I take my hat off to Joe because, like him, we all need to recognise our role as primary carers, that is, everyday people in the community actively supporting and looking out for our mates.   

Whilst our intentions can be coming from a good place, trying to force someone to change or get help could actually put more of a strain on your relationship. Alternatively, simply avoiding them can foster stronger feelings of isolation and possibly result in the person becoming even more resistant. This can prove difficult when the time comes and they are ready to reach out but may no longer feel comfortable with the idea of approaching you. 

As difficult as these situations can seem, it is really important to be there for people who are going through a tough time. You can do this just by letting them know you are available to listen when they need it and help when they do decide to reach out. In the meantime you could take the opportunity to do a bit of research into what specialised local support options might be available, if required, such as a counsellor, financial/legal support or the GP, so you can be prepared and direct them when they do reach out. We also need to remind ourselves that the ability to “listen effectively” is one of the most important skills we can possess. Being a good listener can have a big impact on improving our relationships and helping others.

At the end of the day it’s also important to look after yourself!  Setting clear boundaries is healthy and is all about understanding our limits. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, talking to someone yourself can provide a good outlet and perhaps some insights into ways to manage the situation.

Most of the time, giving someone the space they need to arrive at seeking help is a good thing. However, if you do have concerns that someone is at imminent risk or danger to themselves or others due to their situation, then it is important that you act on this and seek professional help immediately. In these circumstances you may be worried about going against a person’s wishes, but in reality I think most of us would rather deal with an angry response than a situation where the person we care about is seriously hurt or in trouble. 

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.


Self-worth and self- esteem are often confused as being synonymous (the same), however they are very different.  

•    Self-esteem is about measuring yourself based on external actions;
•    Self-worth is about valuing your inherent worth as a person.

In other words self-worth is about who you are, not about what you do.

Society pushes for the need to have a high self-esteem but the problem with this is that you are always valuing yourself against others. The competitive nature of men in particular, tells us we need to be better and above average to feel really good about ourselves (keeping up appearances). When you look at this way of building your self-esteem it can be a losing battle because there will always be someone who is more handsome, slimmer, richer, owns bigger and better equipment and so on.

Self-esteem is pretty transient and can change in an instant depending on what happens, for example we may be feeling pretty good about a new piece of machinery or the quality of our stud flock and then someone makes a negative comment and our self-esteem falters and we feel completely crushed.  That’s how fragile our self-esteem can be because it can also be fixed by a compliment that bolsters us again.  Much anxiety may be created in striving for acceptance or approval and maintaining our ego or pride.

Probably the best way to understand self-worth is to ask yourself how valuable you are, or how much you deserve to have something you prize.  It is a deep knowing that you are of value, that you are loveable and necessary to this life.  One may feel a high self-esteem because they are good at something, yet still not feel they are loveable and worthy.  When you have a healthy self-worth (at the very core of yourself) you have a deep knowing that you are fundamentally a valuable and worthwhile person regardless of -

•    what others may say or do to you;
•    what your successes or failures are;
•    what you win or lose;
•    what you have or don’t have;
•    whether you are sick or healthy.

The concept of self-worth is really about knowing that you are always going to be worth more than all of your achievements put together.  

It is definitely a good thing to think and feel good about ourselves but what happens when our self-esteem is crushed, does that mean we are no longer valuable?  Absolutely not however many people do think that they are no longer valuable.  For example Robyn Williams, the highly regarded actor and held in high esteem by millions, completed suicide probably not because of a low self-esteem but more likely a low sense of self-worth.

Self-worth and self-esteem are vital beliefs for empowering oneself.  A valid sense of self worth is necessary in order to attain love and a sound mind.  A valid sense of self-worth precludes the possibility of depression and the worthlessness that can lead to despair or possible suicidal behaviour.

Situations, or life events, can come from many places.  As these situations develop we need to value our self-worth to reduce anxiety for ourselves.  Remember …before it all gets too much… Talk to a Mate!

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.