CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLES: Tools for managing life challenges
Published on 23 April 2020
The tipping point came one night during a nine-day training course Anthony was attending in 2003. After facilitators asked him to leave training believing he was intoxicated or completely fatigued, he went to the to the top of his hotel for a swim. Witnesses report Anthony walked straight past the swimming pool, climbed over the glass rail and jumped.
More incredible is his story of his survival and how he has used four ingredients to achieve good mind health; creating the Lifeback Tracker app to help anyone maintain their well-being when confronted by significant life changes.
In a must-watch Hub Live, SmartHub Business Manager Elize Hattin is joined by Anthony Hart, alive and well in Adelaide, to share practical advice on ways to ensure we are mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy.
As we are forced to respond to our rapidly changing world, we must make countless decisions about our business and personal lives every single day.
Ultimately, we are all working towards maintaining our own wellbeing, safety, and health.
Anthony Hart from Lifeback Tracker has used his own experience with physical and mental health to create tools people can apply when confronted by significant life challenges. Never has this been more relevant.
"As lockdowns occur, people are getting more and more anxious and edgy, and that's a natural feeling.
"This isn't going away … this is going to be with us for what is looking like a six month period where you have to learn how to control the controllable situations that we can change in our life to make ourselves feel better.
"That is what our whole ethos is around. We do have to work out how we can better confront stuff. We have to make tough decisions, but we also have to just be responsible for our own health," he counsels.
Thankfully, Anthony says there are simple things we can do to feel significantly better as things evolve across the next few weeks.
So how does someone not only survive a 21 metre fall, but then use this incredible experience to help others with their own mind health challenges? Anthony shares his very personal journey in his own words:
"On Friday, 7th of November 2003 I was asked to leave the course I was doing in North Sydney by the supervisor, who thought I was either intoxicated or completely fatigued.
"I went back to the hotel and after two hours of lying in my bed I finally picked up the phone to ring my doctor back home in Adelaide who unfortunately was busy.
"If you are stressed or anxious, the best thing to do is go for a run, a swim or a bike ride so I put on my board shorts and went up to the top of that hotel on level 21 for a swim. That's what I planned to do.
"From the witness statement documented on that night, I walked straight past the swimming pool, climbed over the glass rail and I jumped.
"Eleven stories down, one in a million chance, there was an upgraded hotel balcony with a canvas awning pulled down and at 190 km I hit that awning and survived.
"Three or four days later woke up out of a coma. Three months later I was transferred back to Adelaide to a rehabilitation clinic … it was there that my 'why' started to come out.
"The product I developed was called Lifeback Tracker and it's four steps to better mind health.
"When I returned home, friend after friend would come and see me, but it was all the males who would come and see me and they would start to get a bit teary and emotional. And they would say to me that they're going through similar things that I went through, not as bad," Anthony recalls.
He then began working on four things he could do to make himself better; none of which he did prior to his accident.
4 INGREDIENTS FOR GOOD MIND HEALTH
Daily exercise became an essential part of Anthony's rehabilitation routine. This was made difficult with recent forced closures in response to Coronavirus.
"I go to the swimming pool every day. Now they're all being shut. Starting tomorrow morning, I'm going to go and swim in the ocean. Despite the sharks, I'll go out probably 10 metres and it's not a very professional looking swim, but I'll go and do my swimming.
"I try to inspire people to do at least half hour every day. You will not do it every day, but at least choose one that you can do. Now we are very limited with gyms, swimming pools, team sports, but we could still go down to the park in groups of one or two with social distance and run around the oval," Anthony suggests.
Anthony recommends whatever the exercise, do it quick enough so your breathing gets going and you tire yourself out.
"Exercise is really crucial. That gets the endorphins going and it will make you feel happier," he advocates.
- REST, REDUCE, REMOVE ALCOHOL
Due to his resulting acquired brain injury, alcohol was outlawed for Anthony.
"Rest, reduce, or remove your alcohol. Alcohol is the worst thing when you are confronted by a significant life challenge.
"It's great when you're drinking but you wake up the next day and you're snappy or you just don't think as good. That is tough isn't it? Socially," he proposes.
Anthony worked with sleep doctors to achieve getting decent, consistent sleep on an ongoing as a key ingredient for good mind health.
He recommends keeping off your social devices late at night, not sitting on your computer till late, rather switching off early, playing with the kids or doing whatever you do socially in your house.
"Have your dinner early and two hours before you go to bed … or just don't do anything. Read a book," Anthony suggests.
- TALKING AND FRIEND CONNECTING
Anthony admits no one knew what he was going through, personally.
He advocates finding a confidant within your network you can completely trust who will not share what you're telling them.
"The world's in chaos and I really suggest people look in their network and confide in a really good old friend or someone they used to be friends with in the early school years, who's outside their network.
"Social distancing doesn't allow you to take them out for coffee, but just ring them on the phone and be brutally honest with how you're thinking, feeling, and acting. Tell them exactly how anxious and scared you are feeling.
"Mine is my buddy, who lives five hours away. We were friends since we were two. Now he's completely not in my circle, right? He eats sausage rolls, drinks iced coffee, wears tracksuit pants and he's got red hair. We are poles apart, but we are very, very, very close friends and I can ring him up and quarantine what I'm going to tell him.
"Find your person who you can quarantine those thoughts to, who isn't in your daily or weekly network and not your best mate you see every day.
"It's not your parents, even though they care about you. It's someone from a past network, but a very close friend. Ring them up and just tell them your worst fears and that problem shared is a problem halved," he advises.
Anthony cautions against waiting too long to seek medical advice and assistance.
"Go to the GP and be honest, open and don't withhold anything because those GPS can only go by what you tell them. They will guide you to a counsellor if they think it's a counselling thing, if they think it's a chemical imbalance, they'll send you to the psychiatrist," Anthony encourages.
According to Anthony, of those who lose their life to suicide, 60% had never talked to anyone about what caused them to die. He urges anyone having grave feelings to speak up early.
If negative thoughts persist over an extended period of two or three weeks, Anthony advocates seeking help from your GP.
"The earlier you get onto it, the quicker you can recover and that was my problem … I delayed going to the doctor for six months," he acknowledges.
Regardless of what comes, these four ingredients will help you act in a clearer, more creative, and resourceful way and will help you make a better plan moving forward.
Anthony says if you do not follow these guides and you stop sleeping or you’re not talking to people or you begin feeling unwell mentally or emotionally or physically, this creates much larger problems than the ones that we might be facing right now.
"Times will get better, things will get better. Work on the things you can control yourself, because a lot of the other stuff as we're seeing in the media we can't control," he reassures.
Anthony says if people find the four steps too overwhelming to deal with at once, they should really focus on one of those things.
"Focus on changing one of those things significantly and that's really the first and the best place to start," Anthony urges.
LIFEBACK TRACKER APP
Anthony's incredible experience led him to a place of recovery, in which people opened up and admitted they were struggling with similar concerns. This became the driving force behind his Lifeback Tracker app, which took fifteen years to develop. But it's been a life journey for Anthony.
"It was 2015 when Lifeback Tracker came out.
"One of my farmer friends said three farmers had lost their life to suicide that year, from a small town with only 600 people and asked me to come and do a talk.
"We thought 30 farmers would turn up because men, especially farming men, don't talk about this stuff.
"135 farmers arrived, and spoke very nervously for the first five seconds, but then the story went for two hours," Anthony recounts.
The Lifeback Tracker app simply records those four essential ingredients and it shows on a graph where your thoughts and feelings go up and down.
Anthony explains users are asked eight questions and you report whether you are happy or you are sad and you score yourself with those eight questions.
"You can compare to how much you're drinking, how much you're exercising, and how many hours sleep you getting.
"If you don't drink, you exercise and you get some decent sleep, the better you will confront stuff," he coaches.
The Lifeback Tracker app is completely free to download from both the Apple store and the Google Play store and does not require a username or password.
Anthony acknowledges while commercially, it's probably the craziest product in the world to build, he recognises it has to be a free resource.
"You should not feel bad about tracking those things … it's a mind health tool. I just urge people to try it and see for themselves how much better they feel.
"That was one of the biggest rules around our 'why' was to make this available to anyone anywhere, anytime, at no cost," Anthony explains.
Check it out now at - https://www.lifebacktracker.com/
Anthony believes we all must look at what we are doing professionally as far as how we feed our family with their jobs.
He believes we all have to work at how we need to pivot or how we need to change direction.
"I started my journey two years ago in the professional speaking industry … today 100% of the professional speaking industry has been wiped out. I talk about everyone needs to change, now in our business, we completely had to change.
Anthony says he had to come up with different versions of how to deliver Life Backtrack and the four steps to better mind health workshop.
"There's a live stream, there's a DIY online and there's a pre-recorded course. We've developed two of those three and we've had to do that pretty quickly because the market's changed.
Anthony admits the first response to significant changes our personal or professional lives is to panic.
While he acknowledges it is easy to say, his advice is to calm down and get through the next three to four weeks until the new normality is reached.
"Delay making the big decisions because this looks like it could be between four and six months. It will change our life and we have to accept it.
He reassures while we have to accept change, this time will pass quickly.
"I went through my challenge in 2003 and it took five years for me to get better, and do you know how quick five years goes? Six months is a very, very short period," he assures.
Anthony Hart is a nationally recognised Mind Health advocate, author and speaker. He is a passionate social entrepreneur, advocate for mind health and a man on a mission to shift the narrative around mind health in Australia.
He has attended several Lunch and Learn events, presented talks to SmartHub community members and hosted Hub Live webinars. Watch his latest Hub Live where he shares his incredible story here…
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