Archive for the ‘Wellbeing’ Category

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Wellbeing’s bottom line


Even today, as I stroll the cobbled streets, I see more than a few fur-clad octogenarians lured by Baden-Badens curative waters, which are laced with more minerals than a high school science lab and said to cure a range of ills. Cynics might label it quackery but in Germany, balneology is not to be sniffed at. Going to a spa, or kurbad, is covered by health insurance and doctors might prescribe eine Kur, banking on thermal waters healing power over traditional medicine.

When I reach Friedrichsbad, the handsome neoclassical building looks more museum than medicinal spa. Rising between manicured lawns and rose gardens, its sandstone facade and pillars conjure a yesteryear elegance. Beyond its doors, a steamy labyrinth of marble halls and Roman pools awaits.

Since 1877, Friedrichsbad has welcomed patients seeking relaxation or treatment for chronic disorders such as arthritis and rheumatism. The list of famous visitors is impressive, from Nietzsche to Wagner – even Mark Twain was a regular. I had twinges of rheumatism unceasingly during three years but the last one departed after a fortnights bathing there, he wrote in his 1880 travel book A Tramp Abroad. Perhaps even Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, who famously frittered away his wifes jewels at the casino, also soaked away his woes at Friedrichsbad.

Knowing Ill be bathing on such hallowed literary ground is reassuring but it does nothing to alleviate my nerves. At Friedrichsbad, there is only one dress code. Spa-goers leave their swimsuits, towels and inhibitions at the door and, traditionally, men and women bathe in the buff together.

From Turkish hammams to Japanese onsens, Ive had my share of exotic bathing rituals around the world but Ive never experienced a mixed-gender bathhouse. The thought of striding around starkers with naked, possibly hairy, men makes me anxious but, according to Friedrichsbads marketing manager, Marie-Lena Kuttruff, nobody really gives a hoot. Being naked isnt a problem for German people, she says reassuringly, as we pause in front of the entrance. Its a very normal thing here.

Sensing my nerves, Kuttruff smiles kindly, with an amused glint in her eye. Dont worry, she says. At first it can be strange to be naked with other men and women around but within five or 10 minutes, it doesnt matter.

I head for the changing area and dutifully strip off. Wearing nothing but my locker key (a blue wrist band) and suppressing the urge to make a run for it, I remind myself of Twain and Dostoevsky, and tiptoe timidly down the hall towards Friedrichsbads first bathing station.

Peering around the corner into the a white-tiled shower area, I make my grand entrance – but I neednt have worried. Swinging breasts, sagging bottoms, taut bellies and deep tan lines are everywhere and no one seems the least bit interested in the naked newcomer. True to Kuttruffs words, my companions – a pair of voluptuous middle aged women and a whippet-thin Korean woman – are deeply engrossed in their own bathing ritual and theres not a man in sight.

Relieved, I take a shower and head to the thermal air baths, studiously averting my eyes to ward off potential nude conversationalists. I choose a wooden sun lounger in the corner and lie in silence, gazing at Friedrichsbads ceiling – a welcome aesthetic distraction from the sight of so many bare-bottomed strangers. Soaring several metres skywards, the pretty majolica tiles depict country landscapes and birds; a sulphur-crested cockatoo here, a demure swan in a lake there; even a rooster crowing happily in a field.

There are 17 so-called wellbeing stations within Friedrichsbad, with details of temperatures and optimal amount of minutes to spend in each. Follow these recommendations to the precise minute and you could easily spend two hours or more wallowing in the water and misty humidity. The aim of all the dipping, soaking and steaming is to increase and decrease the body temperature, a technique said to kick-start circulation. To really get things moving along, you can pay a little extra for Friedrichsbads famous soap-and-brush scrub.

When its my turn, Im greeted by a blonde, white-clad spa therapist named Laura who motions towards one of three marble slabs covered in a white towel. I am naked and akimbo in a clinical, tiled room; it feels more like preparing for an autopsy than a spa treatment. Opting for the hard bristle brush is a rookie mistake. Even when combined with hot, soapy water, it feels akin to being exfoliated with steel wool. I wince as Laura scrubs my skin vigorously for precisely eight minutes. Im relieved when, after a cheeky slap on the bum, she tells me its time to move to the geothermal steam room.

Its the only naturally formed steam room of its kind in the world; the heated air forcing its way up from a depth of 2000 metres and swirling from a gaping crevice in the wall.

The fine, humid mist shrouding the air is deeply relaxing and its at this point I realise my self-consciousness has faded.

I feel remarkably self-assured – until I see the first naked man. Make that three naked men, reclining in Friedrichsbads oversize Roman bathing pool. With elaborate archways and ceilings soaring to 17 metres, this room is the centrepiece of the bathhouse. After several minutes of procrastination, I decide it would be cowardly to miss out and, mustering all my pluck, I scuttle into the pool.

Not one of the men so much as glances in my direction.

With sunlight filtering through the domed ceiling, carved caryatids and delicate mosaic tiles, its a magnificent room. I half expect a toga-wearing goddess to saunter past carrying a platter of grapes.

Gradually, one by one, the men leave the pool and for several magical minutes Im alone, floating on my back and gazing upward.

Its one of those moments I know Ill cherish forever and, with my newfound nude confidence, I decide to linger. Twain might have famously said clothes maketh the man but he also happily soaked away his ailments naked in this very pool. Some 130 years later, the grand tradition continues.


Getting there

Lufthansa has a fare to Frankfurt from Sydney and Melbourne for about $1890 low-season return including tax; see

Trains run from the airport to Baden-Baden (90min); see

Bathing there

Friedrichsbad is open daily 9am-10pm. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays and public holidays, bathing areas are mixed (central Roman pool is always mixed). A single three-hour admission costs 23 ($28) and a wellness package (3hr 30 min) including a brush massage costs from 33. Roemerplatz 1, Baden-Baden; see

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Heal;th & Wellbeing


Put the focus on you

Angela Lubotzki – Coastal Calm Counselling

Angela Lubotzki can help you work through issues that affect your daily life.

She offers the following services in a confidential, non-judgemental environment:

*Private counselling sessions

*Online counselling via Skype/Email/Instant chat

* Telephone counselling

Working with a Counsellor can help you enrich your relationships, relieve stress, enhance your self-esteem, experience personal growth, take control of your life, learn how to communicate more effectively and set goals that are achievable.

“There have been times in my life when I have wanted and needed someone to talk to, someone that wasn’t directly connected with me, someone who would actually hear what I had to say and not judge me in any way,” Angela said.

“My life experiences have led me on my own journey… I understand hardship and I have empathy, compassion for all people. I started to see that there were many people in my community who wanted and needed to have counselling but the options were limited.

“I also found that people were seeking me out to vent/talk … all those things and more have led me to obtaining my Diploma in Counselling with the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors (AIPC).

“I understand how hard it can be to make the decision to reach out and contact a counsellor, and usually when we finally get to that point, our lives are feeling out of control.”

If you feel that life is spiraling , and that you need some help in re-gaining control, then now is the time to *just do it*, reach out,make the call, email – you wont be disappointed!

Call Angela on 0404 074 037

Joyful Buddhas

The start of a New Year can be the start of new beginnings.

A new journey always begins with just one step, why not make that step count and walk into The Joyful Buddhas – Health Wellbeing Studio. The Joyful Buddhas offer many services and classes, all with the intention of creating a healthier and happier you!

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Family of missing Hamilton man becoming ‘increasingly concerned’ for his wellbeing


Missing: Ryan Stewart was last seen near a quarry in Hamilton.

The family of a missing teenager last seen near a quarry are increasingly concerned for his wellbeing.

Ryan Stewart has been missing since Monday night after he was last seen in South Lanarkshire.

A police helicopter and mountain rescue teams have been called in by police to help in the search for the 18-year-old.

The teenager was last seen by friends at open ground near a quarry off Carscallon Road in Hamilton.

Inspector Mark Leonard, of Hamilton Police Office, said: Ryan hasnt been missing before and this is completely out of character for him. His family and friends are becoming increasingly concerned for his wellbeing.

Extensive enquiries are ongoing in the local area however, despite searches involving the police helicopter, mountain rescue team, dog unit and specially trained search advisors, Ryan hasnt yet been traced.

Mr Stewart is 6ft, of slim build with short dark hair and a spotty complexion. When last seen he was wearing a black and red tracksuit.

Anyone with information on the teenagers whereabouts is asked to contact Hamilton Police Office on 01698 483300.

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AFLPA extends wellbeing program


The program announcement came as the Players Association released their annual Development and Wellbeing Report.

Wellbeing services manager Matti Clements said the Players Association are investing more heavily than ever before in servicing the mental health and wellbeing of AFL players.

PlayWell, which was first delivered to first year players, will be expanded in 2012 to include additional programs for third year and senior players.

The programs will assist players in identifying and developing crucial stress and anxiety coping techniques to help deal with the increasing pressures of playing AFL football.

The new programs to be delivered in 2012 are:


A psychological skill development program created specifically for AFL players in their third and fourth years with the aim of teaching practical mindfulness skills to help promote player wellbeing, mental health and performance. Mindfulness is a practical skill which can be applied by players on or off-field to improve emotional, psychological and social wellbeing, enhance sleep quality and reduce stress.


A mental literacy program, developed in conjunction with headspace, for senior players and club leadership groups to develop confidence and skills in recognising problems with mental health, how to talk to other players about concerns, and how to access appropriate referral pathways.

This year we introduced the PlayWell program for first and second year players to help them develop crucial skills and understanding of the importance of mental and emotional development as well as physical fitness, Clements said.

It is a six session program, four sessions for first years and two for second years, delivered in conjunction with Framework for Health which helps to provide a framework for vocational, social, emotional, physical and psychological health in order to develop the player both on and off the field.

Clements said the increased support had been welcomed by players whose attitude towards mental health was continually evolving as they gained a stronger understanding of the benefits to both their on-field performance and general wellbeing.

Players are now looking at mental health in the same way they would visit a physio or any other practitioner, said Clements.

I believe that players are becoming more comfortable with the idea of seeing a psychologist and view it more as an enhancement service where they are seeking support and skill development to help manage stress which can be a factor in such a high pressured vocation.

Clements statement was further supported by figures contained within the report which revealed that forty three per cent of current players have received the benefit of consulting a mental health professional during their career.

Another significant highlight of the Development and Wellbeing Report is the record number of players accessing Education and Training Grants in 2011.

With 497 applications – up 24 percent from 2010 – players commitment to educational pursuits in addition to their AFL careers has never been greater.

AFLPA chief executive Matt Finnis said the increase highlights that a greater number of players are realising the importance of being involved in education and training during their careers.

The amount of players recognising the importance of undertaking education and training throughout their career has never been greater, Finnis said.

Its terrific to see players taking advantage of the opportunities available to them in order to prepare for their life after football.

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2011 Year in Review: Point Roberts Animal Wellbeing Society


It has been another busy year for Point Roberts Animal Wellbeing Society (PAWS), and the fundraising arm of our society, the Point-Interface e-mail community bulletin board.

The generous donations, both monetary and in kind, received from the people of Point Roberts are very much appreciated. These contributions comprise our major source of funding, and have helped us feed many animals in need and pay for veterinary care and medicines for many others.

All of our volunteers are treasured, and our sincerest thanks go to them for all the help provided. In particular, I must single out Tracy Aiken because of the sheer number of hours she has dedicated to making life better for cats in the care of PAWS. Once again, in 2011 we had the use of the Clarkes home as a refuge for cats needing short term shelter and care. We are extremely grateful to the Clarke family for their continuing support.

Cats feral, abandoned or lost make up the majority of our calls. Most dogs that are brought or reported to us are either lost or are roaming free. PAWS finds homes for some dogs and also works with other agencies to re-home dogs. Point-Interface has proved to be an excellent way to reunite dogs and cats with their owners. Sadly, this year a number of the lost cats were not found, with coyotes likely the cause of their demise. Thankfully, there were also plenty of happy endings. Three abandoned lop-eared rabbits were caught and a home was found for them.

Each year we help with several species of wildlife; this years tally included an injured fawn and two incidents with injured bald eagles. Eagles and other raptors are transported to OWL in Ladner for rehabilitation; other species are transported to specialized wildlife rescue organizations in Whatcom County and Metro Vancouver. We work closely with the Whatcom Humane Society, Tsawwassen Animal Hospital and the Huff Animal Hospital.

PAWS encourages everyone to have their animals neutered or spayed. If you cannot afford to do this, please contact us, as we have access to a variety of resources to assist with this cost and with other expenses. Please continue to tell us about the locations of feral cats as well as dogs and other cats that need assistance.

Your annual donations to PAWS are greatly appreciated. As well, regular monthly donations received from organizations and individuals help greatly with ongoing year-round expenses. We encourage more people to consider monthly donations.

The positive feedback we regularly receive from community members regarding our fundraising efforts and assistance to animals is encouraging, and your enthusiasm in this regard is heartwarming. A donation to PAWS includes access to our email community bulletin board.

For more information, contact us at paws or 360/945-2338.

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Summit on Religion, Wellbeing, and Health


Leading experts will discuss the growing evidence of a relationship between religion, wellbeing, and health at a special Gallup summit to be held on February 16, 2012 in Washington, DC

Dr. Frank Newport, Gallup Editor in Chief, and Dr. Robert Putnam, Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, will lead the summit. They will be joined by Dr. Jim Harter, Chief Scientist, Workplace Management and Wellbeing at Gallup; Dr. Angus Deaton, Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University; and Dr. Chaeyoon Lim, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin.

There is significant evidence linking religiousness and wellbeing and health, both in the US and internationally. The experts will discuss this research and the potential impact that increased levels of religiosity could have on wellbeing and health and, in the case of the US, healthcare costs.

The two-hour summit will be divided into four parts:

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RM6.8mil makeover for Desa Pandan flats


FORTY-THREE blocks in Desa Pandan flats, Kampung Pandan, Kuala Lumpur, have been repaired and given a new coat of paint.

The work, which included roof repairs and water proofing, was carried out by the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry on Block A, B, E and F at a cost of RM6.8mil involving 43 contractors.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had visited Desa Pandan on Nov 16 last year to hand out the working order for the painting work.

He also announced the building of a community hall with an allocation of RM600,000.

Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry secretary-general Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib, during a working visit, said contractors had to adhere to stringent specifications.

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Blacktown’s wellbeing goes up in smoke


LIKE many people, Alexander Larrarte started smoking towards the end of high school and, also like many others, now that he is hooked he wants to give the deadly habit away.

Im trying to cut back, the 21-year-old from Mount Druitt said. Now I smoke probably a pack a week, down from a pack a day.

But Mr Larrarte isnt turned off smoking by the fact it is the single largest contributor to premature deaths in Australia.

Nor is he worried by Health Department figures that show more residents from the Blacktown area are hospitalised by smoking-related illnesses than people anywhere else in NSW.

The smoker of four years wants to quit primarily to save money and said he could still quit before the symptoms affected him.

I want to quit now so I dont have to worry about it later on, he said.

But it was the quitting that he was finding difficult, especially since I hang out with a lot of people who smoke.

Western Sydney director of population health Stephen Corbett told the Sun that the large number of smokers in Blacktown was one of the biggest factors contributing to poor health in the area.

Blacktown GP Yang Wang agreed with the diagnosis. Dr Wang pointed to health department figures that showed smoking was most common among the most disadvantaged people in society.

Smoking is particularly bad in western Sydney due to socioeconomic stress, he said. And also, its a cultural thing that people pick up from friends.

Smoking contributed to most of the diseases that kill a disproportinate amount of Blacktown residents, he said, including heart disease, lung cancer and emphysema.

The high numbers of women in Blacktown who smoked while pregnant also caused high levels of asthma in children, Dr Wang said. A lot of people try to give it up but only about 20 per cent succeed, he said.

Nicotine is actually one of the most addictive substances, twice as addictive as heroin or marijuana.

Smokers who wanted to quit should talk to their doctor about the many different treatments and support options available, Dr Wang said.

Details: contact I Can Quit at prevention .

The Quitline is 13 7848.

Contact us on Twitter @NewsBlacktown or find us on Facebook.

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Wellbeing and the inconvenient truth


Time poor? No room in your schedule? Have you thought of home-delivered good health?

Thanks to my job, I have become the poster girl for the time poor. I often work 16-hour days thanks to a combination of breakfast television appearances, daily work commitments and swanning about at parties S gets invited to at night. The chances of me getting up at 5am to exercise are as good as Warwick Cappers chances of getting into Mensa. And like most time-poor people Im often grabbing food when I can – chips from the vending machine at work, canapes at functions or cereal for dinner (dont judge – youve done it, too).

Im far from alone in being busy. If its not work eating into your time, its probably caring for toddlers or racing kids to sports.

I decided to look for solutions – after all, there is a whole industry dedicated to bringing health and wellbeing to your door, from exercise machines to prepared meals.

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University joins mental health wellbeing scheme


The University of Edinburgh has become the latest educational institution in Scotland to publicly pledge its commitment to work with see me to tackle the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental ill-health.

“See me”, Scotland’s national campaign to end the stigma of mental ill-health, works in partnership with local businesses, organisations and public bodies across Scotland to highlight the importance of positive mental health and well-being, both in the workplace and beyond.

Lorraine Waterhouse, professor of social work at Edinburgh University, publicly signed the pledge and agreed an action plan to provide mental health support and training for staff and students.

She said: “The University of Edinburgh is pleased to become a signatory to the ‘see me’ pledge. We are publishing our action plan to raise awareness about mental health issues.”