Updated: Mar 31
Do you own and drive a car? In order for it to fully function, there are certain things we need to do as part of that responsibility. There are various reasons why. Let’s break this down into categories: social, economic, environmental.
Our vehicle needs to be fit for purpose to keep ourselves and others on the roads/walk ways and public spaces safe from harm.
In New Zealand the law requires vehicle owners undertake a WOF - Warrant of Fitness. In the UK it’s referred to as an M.O.T (Ministry of Transport). We are legally obliged, in the western world at least, to prevent and reduce harm. Same principle applies in workplaces. Businesses are legally required to protect the health and safety of employees, both physically and psychologically.
BREAKING THE VEHICLE STUFF DOWN
Tyres play a huge part in on-road safety. Our human respiratory system is a bit the same for us – how we manage our breathe capacity, efficiency and effectiveness – this allows us to best manage our responses to stress, preventing harm.
OIL AND WATER
Without regularly checking these, our engine is at risk of becoming problematic. We need to keep our joints, muscles and vital organs healthy too. We can achieve this through diet and exercise choices, to prevent putting added pressure on our body. Before reading on, let’s all skull a glass of water. Schlerp!
Without these we could potentially fly through the window screen on impact if we were to crash – perhaps healthy boundaries can be considered our life seatbelts to avoid crash and burn…out. Are you wearing your seatbelt? What about your teams, friends, whanau, peers?
These help us control our speed – being aware of our speed is essential to health, happiness and safety, knowing when to slow down, or even STOP to avoid a crash as part of our self-care.
There are legal requirements around drinking and driving under the influence
to protect our people. Substance abuse can be detrimental to our overall health and wellbeing in many ways. Check out this link for the low-risk alcohol advice guidelines in New Zealand:
If we fail any or all of the above, it’s going to cost us, at work and/or at home. We use more fuel if our tyres are not at the correct pressure, therefore wasting resources, burning energy unnecessarily. If the thread is wearing thin, this could cause the tyre to blow, that’s very dangerous. We may even need to replace our vehicle if we don’t look after it – parts, maybe the engine. Our human mind, body (and soul) is the same really, difference being we don’t have a key, an on/off button. That’s the part we’re lacking. This is where suitable educational wellbeing programming comes in, the crucial missing link to prevent harm:
Where we drive our vehicle makes a difference to performance. Sand, mud, ice, snow. If we put ourselves and others into an environment where we’re not prepared for the conditions, it will potentially slide, get stuck or crash. Do you feel healthy and happy in your environment? Think about what could improve to help you lead your healthiest happiest life. Sometimes learning to accept your environment and adapt to it until it changes is helpful. Sometimes we’re safer to leave an environment if it “risky”. No eye rolling here but guess what?
OUR BREATHE CAN HELP WTIH THIS TOO.
WHAT DO WE KNOW?
Just like a vehicle, we need to maintain everything as a whole, hence HOLISTIC, intimately interconnected by definition. Sir Mason Durie’s Maori Health Model, TE WHARE TAPA WHA, offers a beautiful example of an holistic approach to overall health and wellbeing: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/populations/maori-health/maori-health-models/maori-health-models-te-whare-tapa-wha
THERE’S SO MUCH TO (RE) (UN) LEARN
If we think about the human body, it’s incredibly complex, way more so than a vehicle. Take just one part, the brain. Research shows that “on average the human brain has 86 billion neurons”. Flipping ek!
For many us, we have not been taught stuff that comes naturally to those who have enjoyed the privilege of a safe, positive and secure homelife as children. Things like kindness, understanding, respect for self and others, appropriate boundaries, healthy lifestyle choices and so on. This adds to the challenge where some of us need to first UN-learn, or RE-learn negative unhelpful patterns. Some need to go through a process of self-development in preparation to lead our healthiest happiest lives. Could you murder a KFC right now?
EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE
Sometimes stuff happens in life that brings obstacles and barriers in achieving healthier happier choices; maybe your home is mouldy and the landlord is yet to address the issue, or your neighbours, family or friends display anti-social behaviours. Some things are beyond our control. Our INTENTIONS can easily fall by the way side. That’s ok, as long as we recognise it, give ourselves a break, reassess and plan for positive change, through action.
Illness, injury, loss and grief, work-related stress, financial pressures, bullying are just some examples of challenges we face. For some, this may be long periods of time, especially if we’re lacking suitable love, care, respect and support in a way that resonates with us and our personalities.
Have you heard of the: VAGUS NERVE? A jolly clever nerve at that. It runs from the brain through to the abdomen. It’s a biggie, responsible for the regulation of internal organ functions, such as digestion, heart rate, and respiratory rate, as well as vasomotor activity, and certain reflex actions, such as coughing, sneezing, swallowing, and vomiting.
We can train ourselves to slow our responses to stress down, by practicing breathing exercises. Knowing that the vagus nerve regulates our respiratory rate ie. the rate at which breathing occurs, enabling mindfulness/brain chill/relaxation. There’s no one fits all. The key is to find a method that best suits the unique self. How’s that for a major FREE wellbeing tool for our kit? What’s the catch?
HERE’S THE THING
Just as it takes PRACTISE to become a better musician or sports person, it takes PRACTISE to learn how to slow our breathing down. That’s why meditation, yoga and so on is referred to as a “practise”. Ah ha! Therefore…WE NEED TO BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR HOW WE BREATHE, learning to slow the process down. THIS TAKES DISCIPLINE, through practise. Easier said than done, however it’s achievable. BEST BIT IS…IT’S FREE! Whoop whoop. On average it takes 19 days to form a new habit. You can easily slow your stress levels down, utilizing your breathe in JUST THREE WEEKS!
RESULTS BASED ACCOUNTABILITY - MINISTRY OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, NZ states:
“Results Based Accountability™ (RBA) is a simple, common sense framework which communities and organisations can use to focus on results/outcomes to make a positive change for their communities, whānau and clients”.
This framework is used worldwide to improve communities, whanau and clients. CONNECT AND CARE recognise our advocacy approach encourages individuals and groups to take responsibility, ACCOUNTABILITY for their health and happiness. Our strength since day one has been to bring people together, to talk, korero, yarn about how we can best look after ourselves, and each other. Simple, yet it takes discipline, courage, consideration, safety and strength to do this, collectively.
BITE SIZED PIECES
As with anything, stepping out of our known comfort zones takes time, effort, energy and a willingness to change and improve. It takes work, but some of it is easy, once we understand the basic principles and begin/continue to practise. It’s helps us observe how we’re feeling. WHAAAAAAAT? It can even assist us to recognise our vulnerabilities, when we’re feeling a bit “wobbly”, and learn to trust ourselves (and others) more.
Our gut helps us with this stuff too. You know when people say “go with your gut instinct”? Well guess what? Our vagus nerve is linked to that too. It’s all linked, helping us lead our healthiest happiest lives, by tuning into ourselves. HOLISTIC TASTIC!
WHAT WORKS FOR YOU?
One really useful way to practise breathing is to simply:
PLACE one hand on your heart and the other on your belly, at the same time
STOP what you’re doing
REST into the exercise
NOTICE where you feel movement
Work towards stronger movement in/out of the belly region, rather than chest. Close your eyes if this helps to notice where movement is greater – this helps reduce external distractions helping you to focus. PRACTISE, PRACTISE, PRACTISE.
THEN WHAT? COUNT
BREATHE IN THROUGH YOUR NOSE – 2 seconds
STRONG EXHALE OUT THROUGH OPEN MOUTH – 4 seconds
NOTE: BUILD THE SECONDS UP; EXHALE FOR DOUBLE THE TIME
AIM FOR BELLY RISE AND FALL
HOW ARE YOUR OIL, WATER, AIR PRESSURE, SEAT BELT AND BRAKES LOOKING?
Don’t wait for your vehicle WOF or MOT to expire before taking ACCOUNTABILITY for your self-care. If you take a bus, train, bike or taxi, same principles apply, you’re not exempt.
ACCOUNTABILITY IS KEY, WITH THE HELP OF SOME EDUCATION.
Thank you for reading.
CONNECT AND CARE