Tag Archive for help

Pakistan Floods … Can You Help?

Pakistan FloodsToday the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon said the floods in Pakistan were the worst natural disaster he had ever seen.

Indeed the figures are incomprehensible.  20 million people have been affected by the floods.  Many of the people first affected have not yet been reached by aid workers.  Millions face starvation and death by water borne disease.

If the world does not act decisively now this disaster has the potential to spiral into an avoidable catastrophe.  It could bring death to tens of thousands of people.  Pakistani citizens need to know the world cares.

In Great Britain, we have benefitted enormously from immigration from Pakistan, and have a well established Pakistani community.  My thoughts go out to all my fellow citizens who are concerned and out of contact with relatives back home.

There is something you can do to help.  The Disasters Emergency Committee is coordinating the response of 13 humanitarian aid organisations, getting help to the front line as quickly as possible.  You can help by making a donation to their Pakistan Floods Appeal now.

Thank you.

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Do You Do 150 Minutes Of Exercise a Week?

The big question in sports science is how much exercise to do to get the health benefits, and how often?  The advice is often contradictory.  Some people have been suggesting you need to break it up into five slots over the week, others disagree.

workout exerciseFortunately there appears to be some consensus emerging.

First, 150 minutes of moderate exercise seems to be the figure we need to aim for.

Second, it doesn’t really matter how u split the time so long as you hit the 150 minutes over the week, and don’t do it all in one go.  As little as 10 minutes at a time may even be beneficial.

But what counts as ‘moderate exercise’?  The disappointing news is that most people underestimate it!  Walking, for example, counts as moderate exercise so long as your heart rate increases significantly, but you can still hold down a conversation.  About a 100 steps a minute should see you about right.  This isn’t a shopping trip down Market Street on a Saturday afternoon!

For many guys, 150 minutes of exercise seems a huge target to try and fit into their everyday lives.  Here’s my advice for getting into exercise.

1. Build Exercise Slots Into Your Daily Routine.

These slots need only be five minutes to start with.  In fact they shouldn’t be too adventurous.

2. Slowly Increase The Amount You Exercise.

Only consider increasing the length of time you exercise after 4 or 5 weeks – when the routine has starting to settle down.  The biggest mistake guys make is trying to do too much too soon.  You will only become demoralised and give yourself a ‘failure’ experience.  Exercise should be a lifestyle for the long run.  Not a quick fix.  So it makes sense to build up slowly.

3. Do Something You Enjoy.

Everybody is different.  Do something you enjoy … or feel you might cum to enjoy at the very least.  There is no reason not to find an activity you find fun.  It could be walking, jogging, weights, skiing at the indoor slope, football, swimming – you could even combine exercise with a social event, like dancing.

4. Do a Variety of Things.

150 minutes of the same thing every week will bore even the most committed.  Try and mix up your activities with some strength and some cardio activities.  It doesn’t really matter what you do, so long as you do something.  Down the line, when your routine is solid, you might want to fine tune your program.  Don’t worry about this too much at the start.

5. Keep a Record of Your Achievements.

Before you start, take a picture of yourself in your trunks, weigh yourself and take a measure of you waist and other body dimensions. Then repeat this every month.  There’s nothing better for building motivation than to keep a diary of how far you’ve come.

6. If all else fails … use a personal trainer.

Try Lewis Hughes, he’s starting an outdoor exercise ‘boot camp’ over the summer.  It will be a great introduction to exercise for men of all abilities.

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We Are Letting Our Soldiers Down – Therapy Not Prison!

For those young men who were lucky enough to return from the trenches following the First World War, they faced, on mass, the trauma of having endured some of the worst fighting in human history.  Veterans suffered from nightmares, anxiety, guilt and despair.

At the time ‘mental illness’ was seen as deeply stigmatising.  Talking therapies were promoted for the new form of suffering that became known as ‘shell shock’.  In turn the post war reorganisation of mental health services for veterans, changed the way mental health services were offered to the whole population, a reorganisation that can still be felt to this day.

For most veterans though, they were left to reintegrate with mainstream society as best they could, without any formal support or help.  The result was a collective trauma on society that was acted out for generations to come.  My own grandfather fought in the trenches.  He also lost a son in the Second World War.  I am without doubt that this family trauma of warfare affected my parents, and, in turn, me.  Such ‘generational trauma’ is the price paid by the whole of society by decisions to go to war.

Men’s mental health, of course, has never really been seen as very important.  The mental health of our soldiers even less so.  Society still expects soldiers to put themselves in harms way, kill or be killed, and endure the indignities of combat, and return and reintegrate without our help or support.

A recent survey indicates that up to 20 000 veterans of the Iraq, Afghanistan and other recent conflicts, are currently serving sentences within the criminal justice system.  Of those, 8500 are serving custodial sentences.  That’s 1 in 10 of the prison population.  Why are ex servicemen so highly represented in the criminal justice system?

The main reason is what was formally known as ‘shell shock’ and, given the inability of government to resource services, the ways veterans are forced to cope with it.  In one survey of veterans in the criminal justice system, the majority of veterans serving sentences had turned to drink and drugs to cope with their symptoms.  About half of them were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or depression as a result of their service.  Most were convicted of violent behaviour especially domestic violence.  In acting out their own trauma, society is also traumatised, and just like the First and Second World Wars, will continue to be passed through the generations to come.

As a therapist who has worked with men caught up in war zones, I can vouch that listening to the tales these men tell, hearing the horrors they have endured, can be truly horrific.  That the work is hard is no excuse, however, it should still be done.  If we as a society are content to send our young men to war, we owe it to them and their families to look after their emotional welfare when they return.  Prison is no place to send our heroes.

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