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A Different Spin on Febfast

Febfast is an initiative developed by the Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) in Australia. Launched in 2007, this project was designed to raise awareness of serious issues facing our most disadvantaged youth and to raise funds that support key services, answering the needs of these vulnerable, yet also highly resilient young people. The idea is to challenge yourself to give up a habit or item that you are quite attached to that may not actually be helpful or healthful. The most popular choice for this challenge is to go alcohol free for February. Many people have also chosen to give up sugar (which, by the way, is 8 times more addictive than cocaine). My lovely husband jumped on board for this challenge and has done SO well in his quest to curb the sugar cravings. Being an Ambulance Paramedic, he has been known to jump for a quick, sweet pick-me-up during a long shift and this has certainly been the most challenging time for him during the challenge.

"Hit pause for a cause" is the Febfast tagline, encouraging everyone to get involved by taking a break from something that may be doing more harm than good. The website offers ideas on different kinds of challenges, including giving up social media or video games, swearing or even a negative attitude.

I thought about what I find draining and would like to step away from for a while- something that had become a habit and would be difficult to give up. What I realised was that I am really great at shutting out distractions and being present for others, but not so great at doing this for myself. My work in clinical practice required me to be 100% present in order to deeply see, hear, feel and tune in to the world of my clients and this is a skill that I have prided myself on. In fact, it was the topic "The Power of Presence" on which I spoke to an audience of nearly 2,000 business men and women in South Africa last year and yet, ironically, this is the very thing that I feel I need more of in my day to day life. You see, when I am in my natural habitat, juggling kids, phonecalls, housework, study, research, cooking, planning, exercise, driving etc. I am very much aware of my monkey mind going at a hundred miles an hour. I get distracted by thoughts of the past- what happened/ why/ what could I have done differently? and also thoughts of the future- what if/ what do I need to plan for/ what might happen when..? Of course, reflecting on the past and planning for the future are both necessary and helpful, but when these thoughts happen at the exclusion of what is happening right here and now, we have a problem. I have this problem. There ARE times when I am fully present, but more often than not, these times happen when I am engaging with others, with the exception of my regular meditation practice. So, in the name of Febfast 2018, I decided to set myself the challenge of giving up the need to analyse the past or project too far into the future and to become more present, more of the time.

Well, once again, I have found this project to be quite profound. I have realised how much anxiety has driven my distraction and ping-pong tendencies to bounce between past and future. I have recognised my unconscious energy scattering and the feeling of being a hamster on a wheel- perpetually 'busy' but not particularly productive. In pulling myself up when my mind has wondered, my mantra has become "be here now" (stated with inner authority and a punctuated by a deep breath). The number of times I have needed to repeat this mantra has surprised me.

My Febfast challenge has led me to feel calmer, more centred and powerful and so much more efficient. I feel as though I have more hours in the day and more energy to tend to the tasks at hand. I am keen to continue this challenge well beyond the month, and my husband is also keen to continue his decrease in sugar.

I am really grateful for the Febfast team as they create a ripple of improved health and wellbeing for all those taking part in the challenge, whilst also increasing their resources to provide outreach programs and services that address mental health, detox and rehabilitation, education and employment, safe housing and family connections for 'at risk' youth. I would definitely encourage jumping on board next year and even setting your own monthly goal before then. In the meantime, BE HERE NOW...

To find out more, or to donate, please visit


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