Dealing with Stress

A little bit of stress in your life is okay. In fact, it is perfectly normal and can be a good thing. It can help increase energy and motivation. Everyone feels stress now and again. It’s a normal response to challenging or dangerous situations.

It is when it shifts into being a constant thing you are dealing with that it becomes an issue. Too much stress can be overwhelming and that isn’t a good feeling. It can affect your quality of life and cause problems with physical and mental health.

There are many different ways to deal with stress just as stress affects everyone differently. The best way to work out how to deal with it for yourself is to understand how it affects you.

A great starting point is to identify what makes you stressed, then take steps to avoid it or reduce the feelings of stress.

Dealing with the symptoms of stress

There are things that you can do that will help you to learn the signs in your body that indicate stress is becoming a problem. Some signs that you may be stressed include:

  • muscle tension
  • headaches
  • poor sleep — or sleeping too much
  • being irritable
  • having a lack of motivation
  • being moody with no other reason
  • not being able to concentrate
  • feeling overwhelmed or anxious
  • relying on alcohol or drugs to cope with situations
  • nervous habits such as biting your nails, picking at your skin or twirling your hair
  • feeling like you can’t cope

There are plenty of strategies that you can use to reduce stress. When you feel yourself getting stressed, it can help to do relaxation techniques. These include such actions as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, tai chi and exercise.

A psychologist or counsellor can help you with other techniques to problem solve, manage your time and cope with life’s problems. You should first speak to your GP who can refer you to someone best suited to help you overcome your stress.

Removing the causes of stress

Understand that everyone is different. What one person finds stressful, another won’t and we all react to situations in our own way. Your reaction will depend on your personality, cultural background and past experiences. The stage of life you are in and what support you have around you can also determine your reaction.

Some common causes of stress are:

  • relationship problems
  • illness
  • conflict
  • death of a family member or friend
  • life pressures from work or study
  • experiencing a traumatic event, including physical or emotional abuse
  • having a baby
  • financial problems
  • losing a job

Many things that cause stress can be altered yet others are beyond our control. Work out what you can control and take steps to make a change.

An example might be:

If you are one of the many Australians who is stressed out by money issues, setting up a budget or consulting a financial adviser might help.

If your stressor is work, then check to see if it would be possible to make changes to your work hours or job duties. If the problem is relationships, take the time to resolve conflicts.

It can help to talk to a friend, doctor or counsellor about removing the causes of stress. Don’t be afraid to ask for support. A good place to start is with your GP, especially if you have a good relationship with them.

Solving problems

Once you have identified the problems that are leading to stress in your life you can do something about it. Try using this structured problem-solving exercise to help you to find solutions.

  1. List the problems that are worrying or distressing you and write them down.
  2. Identify which problem is causing you the most stress and write it down.
  3. Work out all the options to deal with the problem and write them down.
  4. List the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
  5. Identify the best option to deal with the problem.
  6. List the steps you need to carry out this option.
  7. Carry out the option. Afterwards, think about whether it worked and whether you would do this again.

Remember, you don’t have to tackle this alone. There is help available, just reach out.

Menopause, a fresh start?

The menopause is sometimes called ‘the change of life’. It marks the end of a woman’s reproductive life and all sorts of bodily changes occur. At menopause, ovulation no longer occurs and production of some female hormones ceases.

The word “menopause” refers to the last or final menstrual period a woman experiences. When a woman has had no periods for 12 consecutive months she is said to be “postmenopausal”.

Most women become menopausal as a matter of course between the ages of 45 and 55 years. The average age of onset is around 50.

Premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency may occur before the age of 40. This can be due to natural ovarian function ceasing. It may be following surgery to remove the ovaries, or following cancer treatment. Menopause is considered “early” when it occurs between 40 and 45 years.


What is peri-menopause (the menopausal transition)?

Peri-menopause refers to the time leading up to menopause. This is when a woman may start experiencing changes in her menstrual periods. These changes can include irregular periods or changes in flow. Cycles can be shorter or longer in length.  Symptoms may also include hot flushes and night sweats. Aches and pains, fatigue or irritability, as well as premenstrual symptoms such as sore breasts an, be common. These changes be asa result of fluctuations in the production of hormones from the ovary. Some women experience menopausal symptoms for 5-10 years before their final menstrual period. There is no way to predict the age at which a woman’s menopausal symptoms will start or how long they will last.


Contraception in the peri-menopause

A woman’s fertility declines in her 40s and the risk of pregnancy after the age of 50 years is estimated at less than one per cent. However women may ovulate twice in a cycle and as late as three months before the final period. You are advised to keep using contraception until two years after your last period if you experience the menopause under the age of 50. If you are over 50 you are advised to continue for one year after the last period.


Physical symptoms of menopause

Symptoms commonly reported by peri- and post-menopausal women include:

  • hot flushes and night sweats,
  • aches and pains,
  • dry skin,
  • vaginal dryness,
  • loss of libido,
  • urinary frequency,
  • sleeping difficulties

Some women may have unwanted hair growth, thinning of scalp and pubic hair and skin changes. Not everyone finds the symptoms bothersome. Around 60% of women will have some mild symptoms for around 4-8 years. Twenty per cent of women will have no symptoms at all while another 20% will be severely affected, with symptoms continuing into their 60s.

Women live around one third of their lives after menopause. It is important to optimise physical and mental health.


Psychological symptoms of menopause

Hormonal changes and sleep deprivation can contribute to mood changes and anxiety. Other symptoms include irritability, forgetfulness, and trouble concentrating or making decisions. Low levels of oestrogen can be associated with lower levels of serotonin, the chemical that regulates mood, emotions and sleep. Depression is not more common at menopause than at other stages of life. However a past history of depression, particularly post-natal depression, and stress during the peri-menopause may make a woman more likely to succumb to mood problems. If you believe this is you talk to your GP, there are things they can do to help with this.


How is menopause diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose the menopause based on a woman’s symptoms and changes in menstruation. The diagnosis is obvious where a woman has had her ovaries removed surgically.

It is not necessary to have hormonal tests to “prove” a woman is menopausal. However, a doctor may order tests if there is concern that physical changes are a sign of illness. These can include thyroid disorder, rather than natural ageing, or if spontaneous menopause occurs at an early age.

If you want to confirm your thoughts make an appointment with your GP and chat through your symptoms.


How can symptoms be handled?

Being informed about what may happen during the menopause transition is a great starting point.

Women are encouraged to pay attention to their health. Quitting smoking, eating well, exercising regularly and incorporating some relaxation techniques are encouraged. Self-management strategies such as carrying a fan, dressing in layers, always having a cool drink and a facial water spray can be useful. Avoiding spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol will also reduce flushing.

Some women may find relief from menopausal symptoms with herbal or alternative remedies. Most have not been studied or shown to be of benefit scientifically but some do find relief.

MHT, as patches or tablets, has been demonstrated scientifically to reduce menopausal symptoms. However, for each individual woman its benefits must be weighed against the increased risk of side effects. For younger menopausal women (below the age of 60, or within 10 years of menopause), the latest Global Consensus Statement on Menopausal Hormone Therapy states, “The dose and duration of MHT should be consistent with treatment goals and safety issues and should be individualized. In women with premature ovarian insufficiency, systemic MHT is recommended at least until the average age of the natural menopause”. Some women may need to continue MHT if symptoms persist, and they should seek their doctor’s advice to weigh up the risks and benefits.

Doctors may prescribe other drugs to relieve symptoms, such as anti-depressants. These have been shown to reduce hot flushes, gabapentin, and clonidine can also be useful.


Feeling positive about the menopause

Women may experience physical and emotional changes during menopause but that doesn’t mean life has taken a downhill div. Many women are prompted at this time to ‘take stock’ of their lives and set new goals. The menopause occurs at a time when many women may be juggling roles as mothers, as carers of elderly parents, and as members of the workforce. Experts suggest that creating some ‘me time’ is important to maintain life balance.

Menopause can be seen as a new beginning: it’s a good time to assess lifestyle, health and to make a commitment to strive for continuing ‘wellness’ in the mature years.

If you have any concerns or just want to confirm your symptoms speak to your GP.


Top 8 Quit Smoking Tips

Okay, so we all know the damage that smoking does to our heart, our lungs and a whole host of other organs, right? We don’t need to be told how much higher our risks of getting cancer are as a smoker, do we? We know our fitness is shot and that our clothes, hair and breath smell like an abandoned ashtray. But quitting can seem so daunting. Almost too hard to bear…

We have pulled together a few ideas on how you can make it easier on yourself. Yeah, no one ever said it was easy but it doesn’t have to be the torturous endeavour that we sometimes think it might be.

With the right support network and pre planning it can be easier than without. Knowing that you have people around to encourage you can make stopping smoking bearable, just!

Tip 1:

Preparation is the key! As with anything the better prepared you are the more successful your outcome is likely to be. You can speak to your Doctor or research options on the internet. You may choose to ask friends or family what they did when they quit. But however you choose make sure you have a plan.

Tip 2:

Nicotine replacement products do prove extremely helpful to some people. This is especially true when used alongside a support network such as Quitline.


Tip 3:

Another option for help when quitting smoking is hypnotherapy. There are some that have had some real success with this but d your research. Recommendations are te way to go if this is the path you choose.

Tip 4:

Change your habits. Most people really enjoy a smoke after a meal. Don’t do what you would normally do and then sit craving. Go out for a walk, jump in the shower or do a jigsaw. Something, anything to distract you from your normal behaviour.


Tip 5:

Vitamin C is said to be a great aid in quitting. It helps with the cravings and will help to keep you on track.


Tip 6:

Throw out all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters and anything else that might remind you of smoking. Wash your clothes and clean your car to remove the smell of smoke.

If smoking was your way of taking a break or you used cigarettes as rewards for yourself, find alternatives for these activities. Go for a short walk, buy a magazine or have a cup of tea instead of a cigarette.

Tip 7:

Join a gym or a class of some sort. As the weeks go by you will notice how much more able you are in completing the routines. Your fitness levels will increase and so will your motivation.

Tip 8:

Use your Doctor as your most useful resource. They know you and they can provide you with support, encouragement and a reason to go on when you can’t find one! Doctors can help in all sorts of ways. Before you do anything else, why not go along to your GP and have a chat about your plans to quit smoking. They will be able to put you on the path to success!

Jeans for Genes Day – 2nd August 2019

Jeans for Genes Day 2nd August 2019

Jeans for Genes Day 2nd August 2019

Genes are the blueprint for our bodies. They dictate everything about the body, from the size and shape of our nose through to our ability to see in the dark.

Every cell in the body contains a copy of the blueprint. And this blueprint is made up of a sequence of 4 proteins called adenine (A), guanine (G), thymine (T), and cytosine (C).

Different patterns of A, G, T and C makes up a strand of DNA. Then, several strands of DNA twisted together (like a ladder) form something we call a chromosome. And several chromosomes form a gene.

Genes get shared across generations. Which is how children share characteristics of their parents. But just like anything in this world mistakes can happen.

For a crude example if A-A-C-T-G-A produces a normal healthy liver. A spelling mistake could occur with one letter missing or swapped it could mean a bad liver gets built.

You might have heard that heart problems or diabetes “run in the family.” Well, that’s because the genes hold these spelling mistakes, or aberrations and they move through the family line.

Joining Father and Mother Together

We have 46 paired chromosomes, and around 23,000 genes. The 46 chromosomes in the human cell are made up of 22 paired chromosomes. These are numbered from 1 to 22 according to size, with chromosome number 1 being the biggest. These numbered chromosomes are called autosomes. Cells in the body of a woman also contain two sex chromosomes called X chromosomes, in addition to the 44 autosomes. Body cells in men contain an X and a Y chromosome and 44 autosomes.

The 23,000 genes come in pairs. One gene in each pair is inherited from the person’s mother and the other from their father. A sperm and an egg each contain one copy of every gene needed to make up a person (one set of 23 chromosomes each). When the sperm fertilises the egg, two copies of each gene are present (46 chromosomes), and so a new life can begin.

Dominant and recessive genes

There are two copies of the genes contained in each set of chromosomes. These both send special messages to tell the cell how to work. Some of these genes are dominant over others.

For example, brown eye colour is a dominant gene. So when it’s paired with eye colour the most probable outcome is brown eyes.

Because gene sequences are complicated two parents with blue eyes could have a child with brown eyes.

Genetic conditions

As of today, we know that there are upwards of 1,700 gene related conditions. Some of these are as a direct result of aberration, and others are only indirect.

For example, it’s estimated that about 50% of Australians will be affected by a genetically related illness at some point in their life.

There are three ways in which genetic conditions arise:

  • A variation in the gene that makes it bad (a mutation) that occurs randomly during the formation of the egg or sperm, or at conception.
  • The faulty gene is passed from parent to child and may directly cause a problem that affects the child at birth or later in life.
  • The faulty gene is passed from parent to child and may cause a genetic susceptibility. Environmental factors, such as diet and exposure to chemicals, combined with this susceptibility to triggering the onset of the disorder.

Early Problem Detection

Genetic counselling is available for people wanting a prenatal diagnosis to understand how existing parental conditions may affect a child.

Speak to your doctor today or Paediatrician and ask for a referral.

Jeans For Genes Day

Every year on the first Friday of August (which falls on the 2nd in 2019), Australians unite on Jeans for Genes Day by wearing their favourite jeans, donating money and purchasing merchandise to support genetic research.


Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

June has been Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. This is a Bowel Cancer Australia initiative to raise awareness of Australia’s second deadliest cancer. It helps raise funds for the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment.

Did you know that Bowel cancer claims the lives of 103 Australians every week (5,375 people a year). This is despite the fact that it’s one of the most treatable types of cancer if found early enough.

The risk of developing bowel cancer increases significantly with age. It does not discriminate regarding gender. It affects men and women, young and old. 1 in 13 Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in their lifetime. A massive 15,604 Australians will be diagnosed with the disease this year.

Red Apple Day

A highlight of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month was Red Apple Day (Wednesday, 19 June 2019). Australians were encouraged to support the vital work of Bowel Cancer Australia. They did this by purchasing a Bowel Cancer Awareness Ribbon and other apple themed fundraising activities.

Bowel Cancer Australia History

Bowel Cancer Australia was formed by a small team of specialists. They focused on a better health future for the patients they treated and all Australians. not only for the patients they treated but for all Australians.

They were lucky enough to receive a very generous patient donation in 2000. This allowed them to team up to establish the charity now known as Bowel Cancer Australia. They are the only dedicated national charity aimed at raising awareness of and funding research into bowel cancer. These health professionals are truly committed to screening and the treatment of bowel cancer. The team believed the way forward was increased funding for research and raised awareness. They actively encourage people to screen for the disease. Australia could really see a huge reduction in the unnecessary high rate of deaths from the disease.

From its very humble beginnings, Bowel Cancer Australia has grown to become the leading community-funded charity. Their efforts are dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research and quality treatment. They campaign for better care for everyone affected by bowel cancer.

They provide critical programs in every Australian state and territory. This together with meaningful collaborations around the world, Bowel Cancer Australia makes real change happen across the entire continuum of care.

If bowel cancer is detected early it can be successfully treated and eradicated. This means patients and their families can continue to enjoy a healthy life. Symptoms to look out for

Common symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • A recent, persistent change in bowel habit This might be seen as looser, more diarrhoea-like bowel movements. It could be constipation, or smaller more frequent bowel movements. Going to the toilet more often, or trying to go – irregularity in someone whose bowel movements have previously been regular may also be a sign.
  • A change in shape or appearance of bowel movements For example, narrower stools than usual or mucus in stools.
  • Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding Bright red or very dark blood should never be ignored and you should seek immediate advice from your Doctor.
  • Frequent gas pain or cramps. A feeling of fullness or bloating in the bowel or rectum.
  • A feeling that the bowel has not emptied completely after a bowel movement
  • Unexplained anaemia A low red blood count causing tiredness, weakness or weight loss.
  • Rectal/anal pain or a lump in the rectum/anus
  • Abdominal pain or swelling A lump of mass in your tummy.

Not everyone experiences symptoms. This is particularly true in the early stages of bowel cancer.  The above symptoms may be suggestive of bowel cancer. They can also be due to other medical conditions, some foods or medicines.

Don’t put off talking to your GP if you are experiencing any of the described symptoms for two weeks or more. If you can get an early diagnosis around 9 % of cases can be successfully treated.

World Asthma Day – 7th May

Asthma Day 2019

Asthma Day 2019
This month we saw World Asthma Day. We wanted to clear up some wrong ideas about it. Asthma is a long-term respiratory condition. It is caused by hypersensitivity (over-reacting to things). Inflammation (swelling and redness) occurs in the airways.

Symptoms may include a cough, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness, and can vary in severity from person to person.

When asthma symptoms get much worse, it is identified as an ‘asthma attack’.

Your doctor can normally diagnose asthma by asking you a series of questions and by carrying out some tests. The Doctor will want to know when and how often symptoms happen, and if you have noticed anything that might trigger them.

A trigger is anything that irritates or aggravates the airways and brings on the symptoms of asthma. These differ from person to person. Someone with asthma may have a number of triggers. Triggers that are often seen can include house dust mites, animal fur, pollen, tobacco smoke, exercise, cold air and chest infections.

Your doctor will also want to know if you have been taking any medicines. He will ask what your occupation is and whether you smoke or are exposed to passive smoking. He will likely as not as for details about your work and home environment.

If you have asthma, you may have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Breathlessness
  • Tight chest, like a band tightening around it
  • Wheezing, a whistling sound when you breathe
  • Coughing, particularly at night and early morning
  • Attacks triggered by exercise
  • Attacks triggered by exposure to dust or animal hair and other triggers
  • You wake often at night with asthma symptoms

When asthma symptoms get much worse, this is known as an “asthma attack”. A severe asthma attack usually develops slowly, taking 6 to 48 hours to become serious. There are some people for whom asthma symptoms can get worse very quickly.

Managing your Asthma

Having a written asthma self-management plan, developed with your doctor, can help you to know how to best manage your asthma. It can also help you to know what to do in an asthma attack.

In a severe asthma attack, other things may happen such as:

  • The reliever inhaler, which is usually blue, does not help symptoms at all.
  • The symptoms of wheezing, coughing, tight chest are severe and constant.
  • You are too breathless to speak in sentences.
  • Your pulse is racing.
  • You feel agitated or restless.
  • Your lips or fingernails look blue.

Call triple zero (000) to seek immediate help if you or someone else has severe symptoms of asthma.

If you’re not sure whether it’s asthma, follow asthma first aid steps anyway. Asthma reliever medicine shouldn’t harm the person, even if they don’t have asthma and may save their life if they do.

If you think the person is having a severe allergic reaction, use their adrenaline autoinjector (EpiPen). You can then give them their asthma reliever medicine.

Asthma itself is not preventable. However self-care and taking sensible preventative measures can reduce the risk of asthma. They can certainly help reduce the chances of the asthma getting worse. Some of the things you can do to help keep your asthma under control are:

Self-care is an integral part of daily life. It involves taking responsibility for your own health and wellbeing. This is of course with support from the people involved in your care. Self-care is what you do every day to stay fit and maintain good physical and mental health. It is how you prevent illness or accidents and care more effectively for minor ailments and long-term conditions.

A big part of keeping your asthma under control and preventing ‘asthma attacks’ involves preventative measures. These include avoiding known triggers and ensuring you take your preventer medicine every day.

As with all long-term conditions, it is important to have regular reviews. Building a good relationship with your doctor is vital. It ensures that you can easily discuss your symptoms or concerns and adjust your asthma plan.

All people with asthma (or their parents or carers, if children) should consider vaccination against the flu. They should give this particular consideration especially if they have severe asthma. Adults with asthma can also benefit from vaccination against pneumococcal disease in some situations. Vaccination against influenza is free for people with severe asthma and for everyone over 65.

If you are a smoker and you have asthma, you should stop smoking immediately. This will significantly reduce the severity and frequency of your symptoms. Smoking may also reduce the effectiveness of your asthma medication. If you do not smoke and you have asthma, avoid being exposed to tobacco smoke.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be developing asthma you should book an appointment to visit your GP.

The Truth About Antibiotics



What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are medicines which are prescribed by your doctor to treat a whole range of infections. However, it’s important not to overuse antibiotics. This may lead to a resistance rendering them ineffective. When this happens, the infection you are trying to treat becomes stronger than the medicine and resistant to the treatment. The medicine will not help you fight the illness.

The path to better wellness

Antibiotics are restricted to the treatment of bacterial infections. This includes (amongst many others) strep throat and urinary infections. They will not however treat viruses, such as colds, the flu, or mono (mononucleosis). Your doctor may sometimes prescribe an antibiotic to prevent an infection.

Antibiotics can also be prescribed to treat illnesses causes by parasites and some types of fungus. Instead of asking your doctor for an antibiotic for a virus, ask what you can do to feel better. You may be able to ease your symptoms while your body fights a viral infection.

When you are given an antibiotic, you must follow your doctor’s directions exactly. Take all the antibiotic medicine that your doctor gives you. Don’t stop taking it because you feel better or save some of the medicine for the next time you’re sick. If you skip even 1 or 2 doses there is a chance some bacteria will be left in your body. You may become sick again, and your body may then resist future antibiotic treatment.

If you wash your hands with soap and water before you eat and after you use the bathroom you are helping to keep your body healthy. Regular hand washing may reduce the need for antibiotics in the future.

Things to consider

Antibiotics are used a lot. Sometimes they can be used inappropriately. It is for this reason that antibiotic resistance is becoming a more common problem. It occurs when the bacteria in your body change. This makes it difficult for the antibiotics to fight the bacteria, they don’t recognise it anymore. This may happen when bacteria are repeatedly exposed to the same antibiotics. Or, it can happen when bacteria are left in your body when you have

stopped taking the medicine you were given to fight an infection. These bacteria multiply and become strong enough to resist the antibiotic in the future. This causes your infection to last longer or get worse.

You might have to make several visits to your doctor. He might try you on a different medication. You may have to go to a hospital to get stronger antibiotics given intravenously (through an IV needle into your vein).

Your family members or other people you come into contact with will be exposed to the resistant bacteria you have. Then these people could also develop infections that are hard to treat.

Each time you take antibiotics when you don’t need them or when you don’t finish all of your medicine, you increase the chance that you will one day get an illness that can’t be treated by antibiotics.

It is worth mentioning that ear and sinus infections are usually caused by viruses. Antibiotics cannot treat viruses. Doctors will prescribe antibiotics when symptoms last for 7 or more days or seem to get worse instead of better over time.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How do I know whether my infection is from bacteria or a virus?
  • Can certain vaccinations protect me or my child from certain bacterial infections?
  • Is an allergy to an antibiotic a sign of antibiotic resistance?
  • Can my doctor refuse to give me an antibiotic if I ask for one?

If you have any concerns your Doctor is the person to discuss these with.

April 2nd is World Autism Day

World Autism Day

World Autism Day

We thought this would be the ideal opportunity to clear up some of the myths of Autism. 50 somethings, unless there is a family member with Autism, probably have very little idea about the condition. The impact it can have on families is huge and we wanted to share some truths about Autism with you.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people behave and interact with the world around them. It can be mild, moderate or severe.

An estimated 1 in 70 people have autism; that’s almost 230,000 Australians. Autism affects almost four times as many boys than girls.

The main features of autism are:

  • Difficulty in social interactions and
  • Challenges with communication
  • Restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests.

As with many medical conditions, there are many myths surrounding Autism. Where something isn’t understood it can often fall foul to the imaginations of the creative!

So, let’s address some of these myths…

Myth – Kids with autism don’t want to make friends

It is clear that in the majority of cases this is not true. Just as with some people who do not have autism, there are those who choose not to form close relationships with others; they keep themselves separated. It is fair to say that the majority of people who are affected by autism do want to make friends do want to socialise.

The challenge for those on the spectrum is that they don’t know how to socialise and that results in them making mistakes. It takes patience and working with the children to help them work out how to do it. The desire is there but because of previous mistakes, it can prove too challenging to try again without feeling anxious or overwhelmed. You must work with their desire to connect and help them to do so.

Myth – Children with autism can’t learn

This myth is absolutely untrue.  Autistic children can learn but they need good teachers. We need to learn how to relate to them and understand that learning can be difficult even without the challenges that Autism presents. It can prove to be a long process and requires persistence and the support of family, friends and teachers.

Myth – Autism is caused by bad parenting

Parents of children with Autism need our support and not berating and being accused of bad parenting. Let’s clear this up. This is absolutely NOT true. The truth is that many parents of Autistic children will accuse themselves of bad parenting because their children are not responding as a child without Autism would. This is, even more, the case where there are siblings.

Myth – Just like Rain Man, people with autism have savant skills

Not everyone can recite the telephone book or tell someone they meet on what day of the week they were born. Some people can do some incredible memory ‘tricks’, but this isn’t something that you see every day.

Many children on the spectrum do share some strengths, such as being visual learners or having a good visual memory. These strengths can be used to help children navigate the world.

As a parent, it is important to feel supported and there are a number of organisations who can help with this. The first step is to visit your GP who can talk you through what is next.

New Years Resolutions sliding?

At Hoppers Lane GP we recognise that by the end of January a good number of those New Years Resolutions will have dropped by the wayside.

When the kids are at home it can be very difficult to be ‘me’ centred and so the resolve begins to slip, right?

There are a couple of things you do to strengthen that waning resolve and we have detailed those below for you!

Start small

Make resolutions that you really think that you can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days a week at the gym. This is preferable to jumping in with a resolution of seven days a week! If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yoghurt. This will mean that you see your diet less as a form of punishment!

Change one behaviour at a time 

Unhealthy habits and behaviours develop over the course of time, they don’t just suddenly happen usually. Therefore replacing your unhealthy behaviours with healthy takes time to achieve. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time. It will be much more achievable if you do!

Talk about it 

Share your experiences with family and friends. Consider joining a support group to reach your goals, such as a workout class at your gym or a group of co-workers quitting smoking.  We are very lucky that in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne there are a number of very effective support networks and groups in place. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating. Having company along the way also makes you more accountable and therefore less likely to quit.


Don’t beat yourself up 

Absolute perfection is not attainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet. Don’t feel like never stepping into the gym again because you skipped classes for a week because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.

Ask for support 

It is sometimes hard to ask for and then accept help from those who care about you. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking professional help. Your Doctor understands you better than most. They are uniquely placed to offer you the support and guidance that you need to stay on track. They understand the connection between the mind and body and can help you to understand too. They can offer strategies as to how to adjust your goals so that they are attainable, as well as help you change unhealthy behaviours. They can help you to fully address emotional issues and increase your chances of success!

11 back to school tips to kick-start the new school year

back to school

back to school

Back to school time is always a bit scary and can be a huge thing for some kids. It is a big transition, not only for children but for parents too.

Your child may be filled with excitement and notions on what it is going to be like. They may experience first-day jitters and some nervousness. Meanwhile, parents are filled with thoughts of “Am I ready? Do I have everything I need?”

To help reduce those thoughts and help you and your child prepare for the new school year we have come up with some tips. All you really need is a little organisation and planning.

Here are 11 back to school tips to kick-start the new school year and get you prepared for a fresh start.

  1. Get back into your sleep routine. To help lessen those stressful school mornings, set up a regular bedtime and morning time routine. This will help your child prepare for school. Begin your usual school sleep routine about a week or so before school starts, so round about now.


  1. Shop for school supplies together. Kids are more likely to embrace the start of the new school year if they are involved. To get your child excited about starting a new grade, shop for school stuff together. Let them pick out their own backpack, lunchbox, etc. This is a great way to give them a little bit of responsibility too!


  1. Re-establish school routines. Have your child practice getting back into the rhythm of their daily school routine. Get them to wake and get up at the same time every day. Encourage them to eat at a similar time that they would be doing so at school. Another great idea is to plan a few outside activities. Do this so your child will have to leave and come home around the same time they would if they were at school. This will help them be more physically prepared and mentally ready for the big day.


  1. Set up a homework station. Sit down with your child and together choose a time and place where they will be expected to do their homework every day. This can be somewhere quiet, like in the study, or even in the kitchen while you are preparing dinner. Be sure to choose a time where you are around so that if your child needs your help you are there.


  1. Children get ill – be prepared. It can be difficult to find a sitter when your child is sick and this is possibly the biggest challenge that working parents face. Before the new term even begins, it’s a good idea to have a sitter already lined up in case you get that phone call home from the nurse saying your child is ill.


  1. Make an after-school game plan. Make a plan for where your child will go after school lets out for the day. Depending upon the age of your child, make a plan as to whether they will go to a neighbour’s house. You may choose an after-school program or allow them to stay home by themselves. This will help reduce any confusion and misunderstandings during the first few weeks.


  1. Turn off the TV and video games. For a lot of children summertime is filled with endless video games and TV programs. Children are usually in shock when they begin school. They suddenly realise that six hours of their day is going to spent learning and not playing games and watching TV. Ease your child into the learning process by turning off the electrics intermittently. Instead encourage them to read or play quietly.


  1. Review school material and information. For most parents, schools send home information in a pack. This usually includes information regarding their child’s new teacher and important dates to remember. It will probably also include emergency forms, and transportation routines. Make sure that you read through this information carefully, and mark down all important dates on your calendar.


  1. Get organised. The best way to prepare for back to school time is to be as organised as you can be. With school comes a massive amount of paperwork which can and often does overwhelm a household. Designate a spot in your house for homework, permission slips, and any other school-related papers. This can help cutdown on the paper clutter and make your life less stressful.


  1. Get your child’s yearly check-up provided here at HLGP. School and germs go hand in hand, so it’s best to get your child’s yearly check-up before school even starts. Get any required vaccinations and ask your doctor the best ways your child can stay healthy throughout the school year. They will have some really valuable tips on this.


  1. Plan. If your child has Asthma or Allergy / Anaphylaxis then the school will require the completion of the appropriate management plan. Make an appointment with your GP to have this done.


Through preparation and organisation, you can make sure that your child will have a smooth transition to the start of the new school year. By doing so, life is less stressful for you and your child!