FIFO Focus’ Dr John Forbes joins Big Al as part of the REDFM series FIFO Life.
In part 9, John talks about the importance of Male Self Care – in other words, men taking care of their physical and mental health while working away.
Looking after yourself is something that men are notoriously bad at. Maybe they think they’re bullet-proof, or maybe they think they just need to keep going, no matter what. You ‘need’ to look after yourself though. After all, no-one can do it for you! I think it’s also important to remember that if you want to be there for the people you love – your family and your friends – you need to think about your health and put yourself first.
A good way to think about it is in terms of the three ‘B’s:
- Brains, and
Looking after your body can be as simple as including some exercise in your daily routine. It doesn’t need to be really strenuous, but it should be regular. A simple 40-minute walk each day is fine – and if you make it a walk around a place you like, then you’re improving your mental health as well.
Your diet is also important. There isn’t anything particularly wrong with the occasional indulgent snack or take-away, but you need to put the right fuel into your body if you want to get the best out of it.
Finally, you might need to get to know your doctor a little better. It’s best to not just visit when things go wrong. Think about it this way: If you owned a factory, and you only had one machine that you depended on to produce everything, you’d look after it, wouldn’t you? You probably wouldn’t let it break down, and then fix it. You’d do regular maintenance. That way, it would last longer and there would probably be fewer problems. That’s how you need to see your own health.
Then, there’s your brain. You know – the thing that actually runs the show! It also needs some looking after. Things like stress management. That includes learning how to relax properly, and things like listening to music and going for a walk. It’s best to set time aside to do that. In other words, give yourself permission to relax. It really needs to be an important part of your routine.
If you’re like a lot of men, you probably also have a hard time saying ‘no’. I think our default response is ‘yes’ – but I’d like to suggest that you make your default response ‘no’. That doesn’t have to be an absolute ‘no’, though. Think about it in terms of buying yourself some time to have a think about what you can offer and how you can fit it into your schedule. Try to avoid sacrificing yourself. There are some things that need to be absolute ‘no’s, though. Make sure you think about your own boundaries and keep them in place.
The last thing to think about with your brain is to get to know what ‘you’ need out of life. Are there parts of your life that are lacking? Parts that you can get more out of? What do you need to perform at your best and be happiest? When you think about that, make it as specific as possible. Put some hobbies into your life, sport, pastimes that let you unplug completely.
Finally, you need some buddies. If you think about every relationship you have, you’re in complete control of 50% of it. You don’t have to wait for people to call you – make sure you stay connected and call them! Don’t forget your family, either. Give them a call as well, or at least send them a message. The people who care about you really do want to have you in their life, and you need them as well. Make it as easy as possible for everyone, and give yourself the connections you need.
I hope you can see that it isn’t that difficult to look after yourself. In fact, most of it is fun. Well, maybe the occasional prostate exam isn’t ‘fun’, but that’s a small price to pay for some peace of mind, isn’t it? So, value yourself – and give yourself a good life. You deserve it.