Failure – Part 3

Let us use our imaginations for a moment.  Picture yourself taking your 3-year-old son to his very first swimming lesson.  The first one without you in the pool with him.  He’s been excited all day, he’s wearing his cool new bathers and his very first pair of goggles.  He loves the water, he loves the beach, bath time is his favourite activity and he loves coming to the pool.  He runs into the swim centre and eagerly looks for his new teacher. 

First off, the teacher asks the class to float on their back, something your child has done a million times before with you standing behind them.  It comes to their turn and your child doesn’t move a muscle, instead his says to the swimming instructor “I can’t do it”.  This becomes a running theme throughout the lesson and very little swimming takes place.  Although the teacher tries their absolute best to help your son swim by himself, he clings to them like his life depends on it. The lesson ends and your son is upset. He tells you that he hates swimming and that he never wants to come back.

Now ask yourself, what has changed? 30 minutes ago he couldn’t wait to hop in, last week after their lesson you were checking to see where the 2036 Olympics might be held.  You know the answer, you aren’t in the pool with him anymore and he is scared.  His safety net is gone and rather than try and fail, he doesn’t try at all.

I use this example for two reasons.  Firstly, in my former life I was a swimming instructor and this situation was something I saw in some form or another in every class I taught for the better part of 10 years.  Secondly, it is a simple example to understand and it perfectly illustrates the theme of this blog –  failure.  And the way that failure can cause us to not only give up when things get tough, but may in fact prevent us from beginning in the first place.

 

FEAR OF FAILURE

Change is scary. We as individuals rarely like it and are far happier staying in our comfort zone. I believe this is the case for a very simple reason. 

If we try to change, if we put ourselves out there we open ourselves up to the possibility of FAILURE.

If you were to ask anyone you know to define the word failure, you would get responses like: “Losing”, “Lack of Success”, “Below 50%” or “Coming last.” 

I would disagree with all of these.  

I believe that failure is not merely a lack of success. It is the inability to recognise, work towards and pursue your goals, in spite of whatever setbacks or challenges come your way.  

In life, our goals, our wants and our needs are forever changing. When we find out what it is that we want, we provide ourselves with a target, a goal to begin to work towards.  Life isn’t a continual series of races to achieve individual goals, rather a lifelong development of ourselves as individuals.  So in the context of a life’s worth of experience, how significant is a 5-minute failure? Not very.

FAILURE = LEARNING

Throughout our treatment journey as well as in the pursuit of our goals it is inevitable that we encounter setbacks.  It is very rare in life that things go perfectly, especially on the first attempt.  This is a truth that we are all aware of, something that we try to teach our children.  Yet when we stumble at the first hurdle or our plan fails to account for every possible scenario, we become upset with ourselves, we tried and we failed and now we are defeated. 

It is important to remember in these moments that FAILURE IS NOT THE OPPOSITE OF SUCCESS, rather failure is a necessary stepping stone on the way to success.  As we discussed in our last blog, whenever we fail we learn and when we learn we are able to adapt, change our plan and improve which gets us closer to achieving our goals.  We also discussed SMART GOALS and breaking down our goals into smaller “step by step” goals.  These steps allow us to celebrate our achievements (however small) as well as recognise that slip-ups are only very minor in the grand scheme of things.

This is something we as Osteopath’s see day in and day out, as it is far easier to dwell on the negatives than it is to recognise the positives.  For example; a patient who may have had constant pain for a month and then may have experienced improved pain for an entire week, followed by one day of worsened pain.  Often when this happens it can feel as though they are back to square one.  That is however not the case; as we know, the treatment journey isn’t always straightforward and perfect, it has its ups and downs and it is important to see the positives and wins as just that.  WINS.

Let’s look at the example of walking a kilometre.  It can take around 1500 steps to walk a kilometre.  If you stumble at step 876 have you failed?  If your shoelace comes undone at 1296 do you have to turn around and start again?  If you complete the kilometre in 1563 steps did you lose?  Whenever we hit a roadblock along the way to our goals, we have NOT failed the entire goal, we have merely stumbled at one step along the way.  It does not matter how we get to where we want to go, as long as we do not give up along the way.  Context is so important.  Yes, it feels bad when we fail, but often it is such a minor occurrence in a long journey, so always keep in mind the big picture.

A great week is better than a perfect day.

A great month is better than a perfect week.

A great year is better than a perfect month.

 

WHY IS FAILURE IMPORTANT TO US?

There is a concept known as progressive overload.  Progressive overload put very simply means that you are continually training/working at a higher level so that your body can adapt and rise to that level.  Your body responds by getting stronger, faster, more resilient in order to cope with the level of training.  I believe that the mind works in a very similar way.  The mind thrives on challenges and when we test our mind it gets stronger.  Making mistakes is often the best way to learn because your mind has to understand what went wrong in order to correct it the next time. 

While we are thinking about progressive overload, it is important to touch on expectations.  If I had never run for 10 minutes around the block, I cannot expect myself to go out and run a marathon.  In the same way, when we have big audacious goals, we cannot expect them to be achieved overnight.  It is important to be realistic.  Whilst taking everything one step at a time seems simple and tedious, the smallest changes can help to achieve the greatest goals, when done consistently.  Be patient, be consistent and keep working towards your goals.

For those who have followed this series of blogs, we are about to go full circle, so strap in.  Let’s imagine that the three-year-old in the story was a young Michael Phelps.  That first swimming lesson was never going to turn him into an Olympic champion, but it was the first step in a lifelong journey towards it.  If he had never tried to swim by himself and quit swimming after that first lesson where would he be now? Would it be the young swimming teacher’s fault that he never tried and gave up?

As Osteopaths, we want to help every single person recognise and achieve their goals.  We will help along the journey in any way that we can celebrate the wins when they come, as well as help when setbacks occur.  We love doing this because we care and we want everyone to live healthier and HAPPIER lives. 

BUT, we can only help you achieve your goals if you first set them. 

Take a risk, open yourself up to failure.

Take the first step in a long journey of little steps and remember that when you step in the wrong direction, it’s not the end of the world.

Goal Setting – Part 2

KICKING GOALS

In my previous blog I discussed the idea of finding purpose.  Not only a purpose in life but a purpose and a reason for doing all of the little things we need to do (that aren’t necessarily fun or exciting) to get to where we want to be.  Now that we have asked ourselves what it is that we want, the next step is to plan how we are going to get it.

Once we understand our purpose; “our reason WHY”, it is much easier to find and maintain the motivation to keep working towards our goals.  But how do we come up with our goals and more importantly, how do we stick to them?

DREAMS

As you would remember from my last blog, I am a huge fan of excellent quotes.  With that in mind… I will give you another one, one that I believe is very relevant to setting goals:

“If people are not laughing at your dreams, they are not big enough.”

I am an advocate for dreaming big.  The bigger and crazier the better.  Where would our society be if we didn’t have the dreamers making breakthroughs.  Breakthroughs that once we thought were impossible.

Aircrafts, the 4-minute mile, television, mobile phones, space travel, medicine, cookie dough ice-cream, Essendon winning a final after 17 long years of mediocrity … the list goes on, but the sentiment remains the same. 

Almost everything in our world at one time or another would have seemed impossible.  People would have laughed at the idea of all of those examples when they were first conceived.  But here we are.  So why not make your dreams massive?  Why not chase the impossible?  Whether it be overcoming an injury, getting more active, running a marathon, playing with your kids or getting out of pain.  Whatever it is your dream is, big or small.  Chase it.

Now let me pose a question to you.  What is the difference between a dream and a goal?  The answer is very simple – a plan.  Any dream that you may have, when accompanied by a plan to achieve it, becomes a goal.  In the same way; any goal that you have, without a plan to achieve it will forever remain a dream. 

GOALS

Motivation is often a difficult thing to come across and many of us are happy to sit and relax and put things off until the last minute.  So when we have big dreams, that seems so far away, that seem impossible, and we aren’t progressing quickly or noticeably we will invariably give up and put it in the ‘too hard’ basket.

Planning is the act of breaking a big task down into smaller and smaller tasks, all of which lead towards the end goal.  Whether we break our goal down into 5 steps or 5 thousand steps, we can only complete them one step at a time and every time we complete these tasks, we will always be one step closer to success. And more than that we have a great understanding of what comes next.  There is a very SMART way to do this.

SMART GOALS

SPECIFIC – Break down your goals into smaller, clear, concise goals and write them down.

MEASURABLE – Track your progress.

ACHIEVABLE – Breaking everything down into smaller steps makes them achievable while still being challenging.

RELEVANT – Set these goals that are relevant to your WHY/PURPOSE

TIME BOUND – Set yourself a target finish line

This framework for goal setting is something everyone has heard before and there is a reason for that, it is effective.  Any goal that is made SMART can be brought much closer to reality, compared to a goal with no framework or planning.  Smart Goals allow us to dream and plan at the MASSIVE level whilst executing on the smaller STEP by STEP level.

Yet another wonderful quote:

 “An idiot with a plan will always beat a genius without a plan.”

SMART goals provide a simple framework through which we can begin planning our goals.  That does not mean that it is easy.  It takes a great deal of practice and fine-tuning to find out what works for you.  For example; I thrive under structure.  I plan out my weeks in advance, time block important activities and tasks and give myself small goals to achieve every day.  All of this is written in my diary and my laptop, both of which sit open on my desk all day (when you are in the clinic feel free to sneak a peek).

 

As an Osteopath, we love helping patient’s realise and achieve their goals, whatever they may be.  We are here to help in any way that we can along your treatment journey and will always be around for support, ideas and encouragement; but also to help you plan and work towards your goals.  What works for me won’t necessarily work for everyone.  So I challenge you to go and find what works for you, ask your Osteopath for help and as a team start planning.

Once we have realised our goals and begin working towards them, there are sure to be roadblocks and failures along the way.  But the great thing about planning is that the plan can always change.

When we fail, when we struggle, when we mess up, we learn.

When we learn, we can improve our plan.

And when we improve our plan, we are always getting closer to achieving our goals.

Thanks for reading along! Look out for the Part 3 of the series in the coming week or so….

Finding Your Purpose – Part 1

“It is what you do in the dark, that puts you in the light”

This is one of my all-time favourite quotes.

I first came across it on an Under Armour ad campaign featuring Michael Phelps. As a former competitive swimmer and lover of sport, I have an enormous amount of respect for Phelps and everything he achieved at the highest level of sport. This ad gave a glimpse into his life as well as his training; a behind the scenes look that I was not surprised to see, but had never really imagined in great detail.

This brief glimpse into his work ethic and training load illustrated the sacrifices and the pain that he went through as well as the mental fortitude to be the best.

The ad campaign was titled “RULE YOURSELF”. Watch it here:

I bring up this ad campaign and the idea of “Ruling Yourself” to discuss something that I am passionate about, and something that I have seen help so many people along their treatment journey. Purpose. Finding your purpose and going out and doing the things that are important to you. Not everyone has dreams of winning gold medals at the Olympics, not everyone wants to compete in sport. Some want to play with their children, some want to lose a little weight, some want to travel the world but most of us have very little if any idea about what it is that we want.

In this blog, we are going to talk about finding purpose and how important that is. In the next blog we will discuss how necessary our purpose is when it comes to setting and working towards our goals.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PURPOSE

At one time or another we have all said to ourselves “I don’t know why I’m doing this!”

We have all woken up in the morning with a sense of dread, as we are in for yet another tedious day. Whether it be work, university, school, exercise, housework or anything at all. I have no doubt that every single one of us has at one stage or another had thoughts like this. But why? Why don’t we spring out of bed every morning ready to do our best and give our all into whatever we do?

It is simple. We don’t jump out of bed when we lack direction. We don’t jump out of bed when we are not passionate about what we are doing. We dread doing things that are not important to us, things that do not serve our purpose.

A greater sense of purpose in life not only helps us jump out of bed every morning, it also increases your life expectancy[1], has a positive effect on physical and mental health including; decreasing the likelihood of a number of illnesses such as heart disease[2], improves sleep quality[3], increases motivation and reduces risk of depression and anxiety disorders[4].

Okinawa in Japan has the highest life expectancy of any place in the world (90 for women and 84 for men) and over 400 centenarians (people over 100 years of age). It is also the home of a concept known as Ikigai (iki = life; gai = value). Ikigai is about finding a purpose for your life, a reason for getting up in the morning. Essentially, this concept is about finding your ‘WHY?’.

IKIGAI MODEL

 

WHY IS AN OSTEOPATH TALKING ABOUT GOALS AND PURPOSE?

During your consultation at Pakenham Osteopathy, you will have been asked a question like:

“If you could be doing anything with your life, what would it be?” or “Imagine yourself 6 months from now, what would have to happen for you to be happy?”.

Often we find people struggle to answer these questions, or they answer them with a vague uncertainty. This is because we very rarely ask ourselves what it is we want out of life. It is however even more rare to understand why we want what we want.

As Osteopaths, we ask these questions for a number of reasons:

  • We ARE INTERESTED in treating each person as a person rather than as the injury they come in to see us with.
  • We CARE about our patients and want to help them live HEALTHIER and HAPPIER lives
  • We want to find out what is important to you, what your goals are and to WORK WITH YOU to achieve them.
  • We LOVE helping others get better everyday

 

WHY WHY?

Another one of my favourite quotes comes from Austrian Neurologist/Psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl.

“If someone has a strong enough WHY, can bear with any how”.

Understanding WHY you are doing something will help to provide the motivation to do the work, the patience to wait, the determination to overcome obstacles/roadblocks and a reason to keep going, even when you think about quitting.

Injuries along with health concerns are a necessary but frustrating part of life. Injuries affect our mood, our day to day activities and during the healing/rehabilitation process we will invariably encounter some setbacks and roadblocks. We may have pesky low back pain that we want to get better so that we can pick up our kids, headaches that we want to improve so that we can have a good night’s sleep, maybe we want to lose a little weight that we have picked up or even a hamstring that needs to rest and recover for football finals; there is always a reason WHY we want to get better.

IT IS AT THIS STAGE THAT OUR WHY COMES INTO PLAY.

So when things aren’t progressing as quickly as you like or you are doing the exercises your Osteopath has given you or you are forgoing a burger and chips and instead choosing a healthier dinner option; its these things, all of the things you “DO IN THE DARK” (by yourself without your Osteo there making you accountable); remember WHY you are doing these things… Not only will this help you at Pakenham Osteopathy throughout the treatment and management of your injuries but understanding why you want what you want will help you put in the work while nobody is watching and PUT YOURSELF INTO THE LIGHT (closer to achieving your goals).

There will be many people that have never asked themselves these questions before. So I challenge you to ask yourself:

  • What is important to you?
  • What do you love?
  • What do you want to do more of?
  • What do you want to with your life?
  • Why are these things important to me and why do I want them?

Go out and do you, for you. 

References

[1] McKnight, P., & Kashdan, T. (2009). Purpose in Life as a System That Creates and Sustains Health and Well-Being: An Integrative, Testable Theory. American Psychological Association, 13(3), 242-251. 

[2] Megumi, K., Hiroshi, I., Yoshihiro, K., & Yukataka, M. (2008). Effect of Having a Sense of Purpose in Life on the Risk of Death from Cardiovascular Diseases. Journal of Epidemiology, 18(5).

[3] Kim, E., Hershner, S., & Strecher, V. (2015). Purpose in life and incidence of sleep disturbances. Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 38(3).

[4] Błażek, M., Kaźmierczak, M., & Besta, T. (2015). Sense of Purpose in Life and Escape from Self as the Predictors of Quality of Life in Clinical Samples. Journal of Religion and Health, 54.

 

Want to Improve Your Performance in the Bedroom?

Sleep is something that we all need and cannot live without.  Some of us are very good at it whilst for others, it can be the cause of serious stress.  A consistently good amount of sleep has innumerable health benefits.  Conversely, a consistent lack of sleep can negatively affect wellbeing.  Sleep should be prioritised, just like we prioritise a healthy diet and exercise. 

As Osteopath’s we strive to treat each person as a whole, rather than merely tackle the injury they have presented with.  This means we often discuss our client’s lifestyle, exercise, interests, work, diet, mental health and of course, how much sleep they are getting.  All of the above can play a role in health and wellbeing and may have an influence on a client’s perception of pain and healing times.

Not Getting Enough in the Bedroom?

Image: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/health-effects-of-not-sleeping-enough-2015-12?r=US&IR=T

According to the Australian Sleep Health Foundation’s 2018 report, inadequate sleep cost Australia 66.1 Billion dollars due to health care, welfare and productivity losses.  Moreover, the report found that

4/10 Australian adults are getting insufficient sleep. 

As little as one week of poor sleep can decrease immune function and leave you more likely to get sick. Chronic inadequate sleep has been found to be a contributor to:

  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Decision making
  • Learning
  • Increased risk of mental and physical illness
  • Decreased ability to deal with pain
  • Musculoskeletal pain such as headaches

Sleep can be adversely affected by:

  • Work or travel schedule
  • Caffeine
  • Eating late
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Pain
  • Poor sleep environment

How Can I Get Better in Bed?

Sleep is a very individual thing and what helps one person improve their sleep may not necessarily help someone else.  What is important is to find the tips and tricks that help and use them to improve your performance between the sheets!

Below is a list of things to try in and out of the bedroom as well as things to try, and is just a starting point:

  • Prioritise sleep
  • Make yourself a sleep schedule
  • Get exercise every single day
  • Plan your day and get ready for the morning prior to bed
  • Sleep in complete darkness
  • If you are not falling asleep…. Get out of bed

For better sleep AVOID

  • Caffeine and nicotine in the late afternoon/evening
  • Alcohol before bed – it can help you fall asleep but will affect sleep quality
  • Large meals before bed
  • Medicines that can disrupt your sleep (consult your pharmacist)
  • Napping after 3 pm
  • Lying in bed for longer than 20 minutes whilst trying to fall asleep… get up and try some of the To do’s.

For better sleep TRY

  • Keeping a consistent sleep schedule – sleep and wake at the same time each day.
  • Relaxing before bed – read, music, stretching, foam roll
  • Taking a hot bath before bed
  • Putting your gadgets in another room (Yes. Even your phone… Instagram can wait)
  • Keeping your room dark and cool
  • Getting outside during the day and soaking up some sunlight
  • Meditation – there are heaps of apps available (Smiling mind, sleep by headspace, sleepio etc)
  • Timing your meals so that you are not hungry or too full at bed time
  • Exercising for at least 30 minutes daily (not within 2-3 hours of bed)
  • Having a break from screens before bed
  • Investing in good pillows and mattresses

How Much is Enough?

Check out the UK’s Sleep Council recommendations for hours of sleep per night for different ages….

Image: https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/how-much-sleep-do-we-need/

Hopefully some of the above tips and tricks will help your performance in the bedroom! If you have any further questions about sleep, or any other health questions please feel free to email me at tom@pakenhamosteopathy.com.au.  Rest up!

Heat Vs Ice? When Should I Use Heat or is Ice Better?

Heat and cold therapy can often be helpful with managing your pain, but which one is best?

Pain is never fun. Muscle pain, joint pain and injuries are a part of life and they can sometimes prevent us from doing what we want to be doing. When you are in pain, anything that can provide some quick relief is worth knowing and both ice and heat can help to decrease pain.

When utilised correctly and at the right time, either heat or ice can be fantastic for pain relief. In most cases, ice works best with a new injury and heat for general aches and pains or long term injury.

Unfortunately, both can make your pain worse if used incorrectly.  That’s why it is so important to know which to use when and how best to apply them.

ICE

How does it help?

  • Reduced blood flow to an area
  • Acts to reduce inflammation/swelling in the affected area.
  • Numbs the affected area, acting as a form of local anaesthetic

When do I use ice?

  • Immediately following injury to reduce pain and swelling
  • Acute joint sprains, strains or tendinitis
  • Aggravations of chronic inflammatory conditions such as; gout, Osteoarthritis (OA), Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

How do I use ice?

  • Apply ice for about 5-10 minutes
  • Then remove for 10 – 20 minutes
  • Stop icing the area when the area is numb and reapply once the area has warmed up
  • Ice should not be applied directly to the skin
  • Example of use: use ice pack on low back 10 min on/10min off/ 10 min on again on repeat as many times as you can but minimum 4 times/day

When should I NOT use ice?

  • NEVER before or during exercise
  • If the area is already numb/cold
  • Applying ice to a tight tender muscle may aggravate your pain
  • If icing leads to an increase in pain, burning or aching

HEAT

How does it help?

  • Increased blood flow to an area
  • Improved movement
  • Relaxation of tight muscles

When do I use heat?

  • For general aches and pain
  • Muscle tightness, stiffness or tension
  • Before exercise
  • Long term injuries
  • To relieve pain and stiffness related to arthritis and degeneration

How do I use heat?

  • To heat one area eg: Heat rub before exercise
  • Hot water bottle/heat pack/heat rubs
  • Heat the area until warm (NOT HOT)
  • Around 10-20 minutes (or as long as comfortable)
  • To heat the whole body eg: Post exercise soreness
  • Warm showers/spas/saunas
  • Use for as long as comfortable. NEVER too hot

When should I NOT use heat?

  • NEVER on a new injury as it will lead to further inflammation and damage
  • When there are signs of active inflammation (sensitive skin, red/hot skin, swelling)
  • Immediately after exercise
  • In the presence of infection

 

Summary:

Whether you are using heat or ice, it should help to decrease your pain, not make you feel worse. If you are feeling worse when you are using heat or ice or if you are unsure of which therapy to use OR your pain is worsening, do not hesitate to contact your Osteopath. We are here to help. If you have any further questions please feel free to email me directly: tom@pakenhamosteopathy.com.au