Tips for getting ready in case someone in your house gets COVID

With the Omicron variant COVID cases surging again I have spent the past few days preparing in case I get it even though I am vaccinated, so I thought I would come on here and chat about possible ideas that might be helpful for you.

The Queensland government have an excellent resource for how to get ready based on the specific needs of various different groups. They also have a handout for how to prepare a covid-ready kit with emergency numbers on it that can be stuck on your fridge. Add the number of your GP.

Here is the link on how to get the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment in Queensland through the Australian Government, if you or someone in your household has COVID and you’ve been ordered to stay home. Please get tested and get in contact with Queensland Health or your GP if you think you have COVID. Omicron is currently the dominant strain, and yes it is much less fatal than Delta, but Delta is still around 25% of cases and I have concerns about people just staying home and not getting in contact with anyone and being far more in danger than they realise.

In addition to these very helpful pieces of information I have been thinking about specific ways to make dealing with COVID in the home as painless as possible. I also feel less anxious knowing that I have done what I can to be ready, in much the same way that in Queensland we get ready for storm season. I personally don’t want someone I love to be exposed to the virus just because I wasn’t ready. Plus, once you’ve been giving the stay at home orders there’s no popping in to the shops on the way home.

So once you’ve gotten together your thermometer, pain relief meds like paracetamol (which will also bring down a fever), a decent supply of your usual medications, two weeks worth of food for yourself and any pets and your COVID care plan, and if needed a COVID care plan for parents and guardians and children, what else?

I personally like the idea of keeping any prescriptions in a plastic pouch that can be easily wiped down with your covid care plan(s) and put in an easy to find place, like on your fridge, until they are needed. Nobody wants to scratch around in the handbag of a COVID patient looking for prescriptions.

Visualise what would be needed throughout the day if someone in your house got COVID and you had to quarantine there. Would the sick person get the bedroom with the ensuite? Do you need to clear out the spare room? Do you all share a bathroom? If so you have enough anti-bacterial wipes to give it a wipe down after every use? Should you be storing the towels being used somewhere else? I was speaking to someone whose son lives in a share house of eight people and one of them got COVID, meaning two of them had to quarantine. They even put up plastic sheeting dividing the quarantined part of the house off, so if that’s something that might need to be considered at your house you might want to consider picking up some plastic drop cloths and tape.

If it’s you looking after someone who is sick, you might want to get rubber gloves to wear while washing up, and maybe a serving tray so that the food can be left outside their door. Just go through the process of what would need to be done at your house step by step.

Other thought I have had:

  • Clear away clutter to make surfaces easier to wipe down on short notice
  • Hang washing out in the sun to dry
  • Think about things that would increase your comfort if you were sick. Perhaps a thermos. Your favourite tea. A serving tray with legs so it can be sat across your lap (I have seen these both at Tivity and Kitchentopia in town) or a Stable Table.
  • Do a stocktake of your fridge and pantry and see what staples you’re running low on so you can be very specific with your grocery shopping. Do you have enough soap, hand sanitiser, disinfectant, etc?
  • Get new fabric masks. In Queensland we have been under a mask mandate for a lot of 2021, which means if you wear fabric masks the ones you have been using have been washed frequently, making them less effective over time. Omicron being a fresh menace means it’s probably time for a mask refresh. Don’t forget to snip the elastic before they go in the bin so wildlife can’t get themselves stuck.
  • Fill up your freezer with healthy, ready to be reheated frozen meals. I have just made a lot of chicken soup. I will link my recipe here for those of you who aren’t confident in the kitchen. It is inexpensive and easy, it just takes a bit of time.
  • Explain to the kids what would happen if anyone gets sick. Discuss it as a family. Uncertainty only adds to distress, so have a plan. Find out if the kids are worried about anything in particular and discuss that too, rather than leaving them to worry on their own. Discuss it as a household even if there are no kids. You don’t want to be arguing about where someone should quarantine when they’ve already been diagnosed.
  • Take care and please get vaccinated and boosted when you can. As ever, the best cure is prevention.

I hope this helped. Was there anything that I missed?

How do you advocate for your own health?

For most of us these days if we or a family member is diagnosed with a health condition it is up to us to educate ourselves as best we can. If you are unlucky, your doctor may sneer at you about resorting to Doctor Google. Most likely you are going to have to be your own advocate in order to get the health care you need so I personally think being well informed is a great first step.

When you are well informed, you are empowered rather than frightened, it helps you to have realistic expectations about what can be done, and it can make illness be a less frightening and isolating experience. A bit of knowledge also helps you ask the right questions when you do get to see the specialist and it helps you get better value for money if you know what to ask and what is available to you before you go in.

Do not let any health professional treat you like you’re silly for not understanding or for asking questions. It may be something they’ve seen so many times that it’s old hat, but to you it might be new, or maybe the standard treatment isn’t working for you. From the health professional’s perspective, surely it would be better to have patients who understand what is going on, what their medication is supposed to do, what they are not supposed to do while on that medication, and what can be reasonably expected to happen during the course of treatment.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a health condition a good first move is to listen to your doctor. Follow their suggestions, at least initially. If you have doubts seek a second opinion from another doctor. If you feel like there is not enough time to go through all of your concerns, book a double appointment before you go in. Ask the doctor if there’s an organisation that they would recommend that can offer you further support, for example Diabetes Australia if you’ve just been diagnosed as a diabetic. Quite often there will be pamphlets on hand or in the waiting room that will direct you.

Have a look at relevant government health websites and see what is recommended there by way of support services and treatment options, even if you don’t especially trust the government. You need to find out what is readily available to help you in your area, and what your doctors are likely to be recommending to you. There is no point doing lots of research and finding wonderful things that are available in another country if it hasn’t been approved for use for that condition where you are. Your doctor is going to start on whatever the standard treatment options are and work from there. I don’t want you to feel as though you’ve been dismissed by your primary care health professionals when you go in with your heart set on a particular thing and they haven’t heard of it or if they don’t have time to go into the research when the standard treatments haven’t been exhausted yet. If you find a decent selection of research papers that recommend a certain thing that you would like to try, print them out and take them in. Be as thorough as you can. Your doctor will not take action on just one study. At best they will say “that’s interesting” but if they don’t know anything about it and they feel like the data is insubstantial you are not going to get the outcome that you want. Doctors have professional bodies that they have to answer to as well and they will not go off script without very good reason. It may be that they can refer to you someone else who is better placed to help you, so don’t just not say anything if you have particular options in mind. There may be scientific research studies being done that you could be got into. It might be time to go and see a naturopath (If you’re here and reading this I presume that you have at least a passing interest in natural medicine)

Once you’ve seen your doctor, you may possibly go looking further afield online. It is important to still restrict yourself to the experts at this stage. Investigate the qualifications of the person presenting the information. Is it appropriate and relevant to what they’re talking about? Are you watching a video about vaccines from a virologist or a hairdresser? An epidemiologist or a wellness coach? Do they have experience in the field? Are they members of associations? Are they well regarded in their field? What other things have they had published? This critical way of evaluating professional opinions online doesn’t mean you can only consume the content of doctors and academics. There are many massively qualified naturopaths and nutritionists out there who are doing very exciting things in the world of research. (Yours truly can hold her own in most company, being the proud owner of several extra letters after her name, but there’s also naturopaths who have masters degrees, PhDs and are on government boards around the country advocating for better health care.) The qualifications of alternative and complimentary health practitioners are definitely worth scrutinising.

Importantly, someone who is qualified is never shy about listing what their qualifications are. If you don’t see qualifications listed or they become evasive when asked, get out of there.

I think it is also valuable therapeutically to find your peers, the people who are also experiencing the same issues you are. They will help you find what is best to read and which doctors or naturopaths have been helpful. Solidarity and shared experience is so valuable, especially when it’s all new to you and you might not know anyone with the same condition. It will help you to establish what life is going to look like day to day and help you figure out from watching them what adjustments might be necessary in your own life so you can take preemptive action. The experiences of others can save you from having to figure out how to reinvent the wheel yourself, potentially sparing you some distress.

Most commonly these days people do this via a Facebook group. If you go to Facebook groups for support it’s important to establish a few things:

  1. Who is running this group? What are their qualifications? Sometimes they won’t be qualified at all, it might just be a fellow sufferer, which is not inherently a bad thing, but this will be a group to share resources and experiences, not to take health advice
  2. How attentive are the moderators? Is there a code of conduct? Is this a public or private group? This is important for establishing whether this is a safe space for you. Is this a place where people are vulnerable and lean on each other a lot? Is that something you want to get involved in or do you not have any energy left over to support others? Most Facebook groups will have people who just are members but do not post. It is usually perfectly acceptable for you to be one of them too. Just remember when you’re in one, what you post is visible to all members of the group, so be careful of how much personal information you share. A well run group will have a moderator that will gently encourage people to be mindful of over-sharing or to be kind to one another as needed. Do not take it personally if this happens to you. They are trying to look out for everyone in the group and the internet can be a zoo, especially when there’s vulnerable or distressed people involved.
  3. Do you feel empowered or connected, or foolish and judged? If you feel anywhere online negatively impacts your self esteem, get out of there. (Note: this is very different from having your beliefs challenged, everyone should experience that every now and again. This is how we grow.)
  4. You may need to manage how much time you spend in these groups. I spoke to someone with a rare heart condition about this. They have absolutely found Facebook groups to be very helpful. That particular group is run by the Mayo Clinic in the US and fairly often has doctors doing live videos to discuss the latest research, which is fantastic, even though those breakthroughs are years away from being available here (this person has time). Fantastic advice that my client was given, that I will now pass onto you is to only go into that group when you have questions. Don’t make your life about your chronic health condition. Live as normally as you can.

My mother is currently undergoing treatment for a rare (not usually fatal) form of cancer. She’s in a couple of Facebook groups that she found by googling her condition. I’ve just spoken to her about her experience of being in those groups. There’s one that’s based in the US but accepts members from all over the world that exclusively has people with the disease making posts, and there’s one that’s an Australian group that has both patients and medical staff (such as oncology nurses) making posts and taking part in the comments. She has found them very helpful leading up to her surgery in learning what to expect from other people’s experiences. For example, she thought the recommended aftercare from her surgeon was a bit mild, and then learnt from the group that was exactly what was necessary from the people who had already gone through it.

Since she’s had the surgery and has been to see the oncologist for a follow up she doesn’t feel the need to go in the group so much, and absolutely agrees with my client above: only go in when you have questions. She felt like the was being brought down and stressed out by the people in the groups who were more doom and gloom, and found the details that were shared about genetic testing results too much.

So I hope this has helped you. I tend to attract naturopathy clients who have had issues for 10+ years that no-one’s been able to sort out yet and as a group they are very switched on people. They learnt the hard way how arduous advocating for your own health can be, so I hope that if you’re more new to this what I have written will be helpful for you. One of the beautiful things about being a naturopath is that we get to spend time with our clients going over what all the concerns are and making sure they understand what is going on.

List of resources for the vaccine hesitant

Hello! If you are reading this you are probably one of my clients and we’ve been talking about the vaccine during your treatment. I am posting this because a lot of my clients would like more information or still have questions that I know I cannot answer, so I have put together a list of resources from qualified experts, videos explaining how things work and people who work in the field that you can follow on social media for more information. I’ve put this together on the understanding that people take in information in different ways, and I am trying to find sources as wide ranging as possible.

First of all, here is a report of the effects of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. This features data from 2020, pre-vaccine and back when the earlier variants were dominant and Delta had not yet arrived.


Here is a four minute video by the ABC explaining how viruses work and how the delta strain is different.

Here is an article explaining how mRNA vaccines work that gives lots of links to find further information

Here is a review article explaining how mRNA vaccines work, dating from 2018.

Here is a video featuring Brian and Stewie from the tv show The Family Guy explaining how vaccines, and the COVID-19 vaccine in particular work.


How many people globally have been vaccinated for COVID-19? The New York Times has a great ongoing coverage, maps and additional data to look at, but as of the 6th of October 2021, 3.62 billion people, 47.2% of the entire world’s population have received a dose of the vaccine.

Here is a study that investigates how the vaccine is going in the real world

Here is another study investigating the effectiveness of the vaccine in real world conditions

Here is a weekly 15 minute TV series on the ABC about The Vaccine, which is very helpful as things change so fast,

Here is a Four Corners episode on how vaccinating Australia is going, and how the slow rollout has allowed doubt to creep in amongst the population.


What is defined as a vaccine injury (otherwise known as a vaccine adverse event)? Do you need to be incapacitated, or is a sore arm at the injection site considered to be a vaccine injury?

The World Health Organisation calls them “adverse events following immunisation” an adverse event following immunization is any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunization and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine. The WHO then goes on to say:

“There is no such thing as a “perfect” vaccine which protects everyone who receives it AND is entirely safe for everyone.

Effective vaccines (i.e. vaccines inducing protective immunity) may produce some undesirable side effects which are mostly mild and clear up quickly.”

Queensland Health via the Australian Immunisation Handbook continues: “Adverse Events Following Immunisation are any negative reaction that follows vaccination. It does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the vaccine… Mild events, such as fever, pain or redness at the site of injection, tiredness and aches and pains commonly occur after vaccination with some vaccines and should be anticipated.”

The Australian Government also releases a weekly safety report on all of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the country which includes the actual numbers of adverse events and deaths post vaccination, and whether this lines up with what is already known worldwide.

The Australian government have a scheme to compensate people who have been injured by the COVID-19 vaccines.

The American Centre for Disease Control have interesting information about vaccine adverse events.

An interesting study from the US investigating the incidence of anaphylaxis after the Pfizer vaccination, which explains the type of person more likely to experience those symptoms, how likely it is per number of vaccines administered and the most likely time limit that the reaction is likely to occur.

Another interesting study to come out of the US investigates adverse events following one dose of an mRNA vaccine in nursing home residents that have had COVID versus those who have not had COVID found that there was no statistical difference in adverse events between the two groups.

Another study investigates the characteristics and outcomes of the 1842 people who required a visit to the emergency department or hospitalisation within 10 days of their first of second doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, out of a total of 153 726 total emergency department visits at the time. Out of those 1842 people, around 40% required hospitalisation and 43 of them were admitted to the ICU, the incidence increasing with age, and presumably therefore with previously existing health conditions.


No. A lot of the work was already done when SARS and MERS were prevalent, as they are also one of the now seven coronaviruses known to infect human beings. There is no known cure for any of the coronaviruses.

From a review article: “However, vaccine development involves several important steps such as antigen study, selection of effective antigen, antigen stability, screening study (animal model, route of vaccination, adjuvant selection), clinical trials on human, clinical trials data analysis, quality control, technology transfer, easy scale-up, universal approval, and high cost investment ($200–1000 Millions) which take at least 1.5–3 years (or more) to develop the vaccine [[12], [13], [14]]. In case of COVID-19 vaccine, the initial observations about full length genome phylogenetic analysis suggest that genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 is almost 80% similar to that of SARS-CoV [9,15]. Hence it is expected that, previously available related literature data/experience and existing knowledge about vaccine designing attempts against the coronavirus (SARS/MERS) disease may be helpful to design rapid vaccine against COVID-19″

Here is a cool article by the ABC on how the vaccine got developed so quickly.

Then there is the history of mRNA vaccines, which have been investigated since the 1970s


Here is an article explaining the difference between how the body’s innate immune system versus vaccination works

An Australian study published earlier in 2021 found that people infected with earlier variants of COVID-19 and still had antibodies were not very effective against new variants, like Delta.

Here is a great article from November 2020 explaining how our immune systems work, how COVID-19 suppresses the immune system, allowing it to evade detection and cause more inflammation.


It has been found in Australia that more than 70% of Australians who died from earlier COVID-19 variants had pre-existing chronic health conditions, most commonly dementia (between 400 000 and 459 000 Australians), diabetes (1.2 million Australians, or 4.9% of the total population), hypertension (1 in 4 Australian men and 1 in 5 Australian women) and chronic cardiac conditions (1.2 million Australians),

Here is a Australian government website explaining which groups are going to be more at risk of getting and being badly affected by COVID. 73% of COVID-19 deaths have been from those living in aged care. As of 2020, there were 335 899 Australians living in aged care.

A further look at the data in Australia (bear in mind that the author is a co-founder of a travel company in Melbourne)


The Australian government page on common COVID-19 myths.

The Australian Government page on common COVID-19 vaccine myths.

Johns Hopkins research and training hospitals in the USA on common COVID-19 vaccine myths

The Mayo clinic, another world-renowned research and training hospital in the US on common COVID-19 vaccine myths

An article on CNN that explains more about common covid-19 vaccine myths


A fantastic short video from the ABC in Australia about how yes, breakthrough infections even after being fully vaccinated are expected, why the vaccines are still important even though there will be breakthrough infections and the purpose of vaccine boosters.

Sanjay Mishra PhD is a project coordinator and staff scientist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Centre who has particular interest in how covid affects people with cancer. He wrote a great article recently explaining what breakthrough infections are and why they are happening


A Harvard University explanation of what Long Covid is

A longer explanation of what Long COVID is and how debilitating it can be.

1 in 3 people who catch the virus will suffer from Long COVID afterwards.

Getting the vaccine after COVID-19 infection may help reduce Long COVID symptoms (research is still very early days).

The vaccine has been found to be safe in people who have Long COVID and has been found to definitely not make things worse.

The personal financial and wider economic consequences of Long COVID are an important concern, with people who need ongoing medical help going homeless and previously young, fit family breadwinners being unable to work.


Basically, pregnant people haven’t been included in vaccine trials due to ethical reasons (It is incredibly rare for research to be done on pregnant humans full stop.) But doctors and researchers are finding that the pregnant person and their unborn children are greatly at risk from the virus, so the current recommendations are for pregnant people to get vaccinated. This cohort study found that the vaccine was in general well tolerated. Please talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine.

Here is another article explaining what happens to 57 people who accidentally fell pregnant while participating in COVID-19 vaccine trials. Based on that (unfortunately, due to the above ethical concerns, comprehensive data in humans is going to be sparse and purely observational) it was found that the rate of accidental pregnancy in the vaccinated and non-vaccinated was the same, meaning that the vaccine does not affect the rate of falling pregnant. It also found that miscarriage rates was the same in both groups, meaning that the vaccine was non-detrimental to pregnant people.

This article also reports that further studies of pregnant people with COVID-19 are currently underway, and it is being found that they are far more likely to need intensive care, which makes it far more likely for Doctors to elect to deliver the babies early, which does not improve the health outcomes of anyone involved.

Here is a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald exploring myths vs facts of the effect of the COVID-19 vaccine on fertility.

Here is a study published in September 2021 that examined the correlation between spontaneous abortion and the COVID-19 vaccine by searching through data collected by the American Centre for Disease Control and 9 other health systems in the US. It found that the vaccine did not increase the chances of spontaneous abortion, but increased parental age did.

Further data collected from a self-reporting database found that the vaccine did not cause an increase in spontaneous abortions below 20 weeks gestation.

Here is an observational study of over 35 000 pregnant people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine that examined the outcomes of their pregnancy.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies (so a collation and review of the evidence found in 42 different studies, including 438 548 people who were pregnant) found that COVID-19 viral infection increased the risk of pre-eclampsia, pre-term birth and stillbirth, with the severity of infection increasing the severity of outcome

Here is a study from 2014 that investigates the impact of fevers in pregnancy and the health impacts on the offspring as a result. Fevers are a commonly reported side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. It found that parental fevers do have an increased risk of health concerns in infants, but the risks can be easily mitigated by antipyretic medications, such as paracetamol.

Here is an article from the Smithsonian investigating how frequent the incidence of side effects after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines actually are, with 3.7% of those who received Pfizer reporting fevers after the first dose and 15.8% of vaccine recipients reporting fevers after their second dose. Again, these can be easily managed with paracetamol.

A study examining the transfer of COVID-19 vaccine antibodies to infants from their birth parent found that not only was the parent’s immunity good against the virus, the antibodies had been passed on through the placenta and the breast milk to the baby.

Another study done on health workers in Israel who got vaccinated and were also breastfeeding at the time had their breast milk before and after vaccination examined. It was found to have good concentrations of antibodies after vaccination and none of the participants or their children experienced any long term side effects.

Here is a study from the Journal of Clinical Investigation that examines the presence of COVID-19 antibodies across the placental barrier in unborn babies of people who have been vaccinated, are currently infected with COVID-19 and the unvaccinated who are not infected with the virus.


Research is just getting started with the US National Institute of Health, but preliminary data in the British Medical Journal suggests that while it is possible that post-vaccination the first menses may be different, it returns to normal in the next cycle. Changes in menstruation occur frequently in cases of increased stress, weight gain or changes in exercise and as such difference for one cycle is not usually a cause for concern.

Similarly, there seems to be a short-term change in sex hormone concentration and ovarian reserve in people with COVID-19


It has been found that covid affects the fertility and potency of men who have recovered from the virus.

A small pilot study released in July 2021 found that the virus was still present in penile tissue, but there was also widespread tissue damage to the area

A slightly larger research paper also released in July 2021 basically says the same thing

Here is an article from April 2021 explaining in greater detail the six times greater risk of erectile dysfunction in men who have had COVID.


Here is an article from the ABC on how to to talk to friends and family who are unsure about getting the vaccine.

Here is an American article by the Cleveland Clinic about how to talk to someone who is hesitant about getting the COVID vaccine

An article by Rotary on how to talk to someone who is vaccine hesitant.


Very informative as they are likely to have have special areas of interest that may be important to you. Also useful as they address current talking points that may be in the news this week.

Unambiguous Science on Facebook and Instagram

Dr Izzy Smith on Facebook and Instragram who has interesting information on the vaccine and fertility

The Immunisation Nurse (in Queensland) on Instagram

Mamallennial on vaccinating kids on Instagram

Science Biker Chick, one of the scientists who worked on the University of Queensland vaccine on Instagram

The world renowned Mayo Clinic which specialises in research on Facebook and Instagram has great highlights and podcasts

Epiqueeniology in NSW on Facebook and Instagram

Doctor Kat, Epidemiologist on Instagram

Doctor Yas, who has a PhD in immunotherapy and immune regulation on Instagram

Doctor Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN who talks about covid-19, the vaccine and its impact on fertility on Facebook and Instagram

Science Whiz Liz is a scientist, professior and educator who got her PhD in Genetics and Immunology and works to make science easily understandable to everyone on Facebook and Instagram

Dr Risa Hoshino, MD is a board certified pediatrician in pubic health and a vaccine expert on Facebook and Instagram

Dr Sara Marzouk FRACGP, MBBS, PhD and BSc Hons (Immunology) is a Melbourne doctor and educator who is a wealth of information about the vaciine and covid and all things related over on Facebook

Dr Noc PhD (immunology) on Instagram

Nini Munoz PhD is a science communicator focusing on understanding data and statistics on Instagram

Charlotte is a PhD student in epidemiology who appears to be located in the UK on Instagram who gives weekly updates and goes through the latest talking points

Dr Stacy De-Lin M.D. is a board certified physician, a gynaecology and family planning specialist and a COVID science communicator on Instagram

Dr Jessica Stokes-Parish is a nurse and educator based in Melbourne who works to help health professionals navigate science and education, on Facebook and Instagram

And finally,


(Deliberately misspelled) I am putting this up because current affairs are not separate from health concerns at this time, as long as certain groups are trying to affect choices you make about your health and the health of your community. I want to make sure when you watch the news or scroll around online you understand who all the players are.

The Centre for Countering Digital Hate have done a 72 page report on who is making money from spreading misinformation about the pandemic

Here is a Four Corners episode about Q Anon

Here is an article from the Guardian explaining how information about the Freedom Rallies around the country have spread and the group that has been found to be behind it.

Here’s an opinion piece that talks about how strange it is to see wellness women and far right men together at the forefront of the anti-vaxx movement in Australia. Basically, the far right has been organising for years and this is the first time the wellness women have taken part in anything political, and fear is a strong motivator for both groups.

Who are the Proud Boys, the group that gets mentioned a lot as taking part in Freedom Rallies, particularly in Melbourne? The Southern Poverty Law Centre explains.

How far right white supremacist groups are recruiting in Australia through men’s fitness clubs, a trend that has been accelerated by the fallout of COVID-19.

Further information about how the Anti-Lockdown protests spread online from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Here is a study on how vaccine rumours and conspiracy theories increase vaccine hesitancy.

A new study has found that conspiracy theorists lack critical thinking skills, which thankfully is something that can be taught. From the article:

“Critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of a situation – and requires a number of cognitive skills include the ability to think systematically, see other perspectives, change your mind when new evidence arises, identify relevant versus irrelevant information, identify and discard logical fallacies, be aware of biases and avoid them, and look beyond the obvious.”

Which is a good enough place to finish this for now. I hope I have helped bring you more clarity, given you some perspective and have helped put some concerns at rest. I will be adding to it from time to time, as of course this is still a developing situation.

Be safe. Take care out there.


Veggie Curry

This is a basic curry I make a couple of times a month. It’s not adherent to any particular cuisine and I adapt it based on what I’ve got on hand. It’s gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. It refrigerates well and freezes well.


  • Legumes, 1-2 cups, depending on what you’ve got on hand. I’ve used 400g tinned chickpeas, butter beans and kidney beans that have been well rinsed, I’ve used dried red lentils that have been soaked overnight and washed and most recently I’ve used a dried soup mix that also had barley in it, also soaking overnight and rinsing and straining the next day.
  • A large sweet potato or half a pumpkin, chopped into chunks. If you want the meal to cook fast, chop them small. If you are using dried legumes and want your vegies to retain their shape, chop them larger or add in later in the cooking process.
  • A bunch of kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1 tin of coconut cream
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoons of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander powder (you can use fresh coriander if you like. I have that quirk that makes fresh coriander taste like soap, so if fresh coriander is your idea of a good time you go ahead. Add it at the end.)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Cooked rice, nigella seeds (I have been using black sesame seeds, but both are not strictly necessary) and a wedge of lemon to serve


  1. Put the rice on to cook.
  2. Sautee onion in a large pot using about a quarter of a cup of olive oil. Add garlic and ginger once the onion is translucent. Stir frequently to stop the garlic from burning. After a minute, add the turmeric, coriander powder, cumin, cayenne and garam masala. Stir briskly. There should be enough oil in the pan to coat the spices but some will stick to the pan. Keep things moving or they will burn.
  3. After a minute of stirring the spice mix, add the can of coconut cream. Fill the tin with warm water and add this water to the pan. Add the legumes salt and sweet potato/pumpkin. Legumes always soak up a lot of salt so taste as the dish cooks. Add the bay leaves and black pepper. Cover with a lid and cook on moderate heat until nearly done. Stir occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan and burns.
  4. When nearly finished, add the huge pile of chopped kale. You will think this is too much but it will wilt as it cooks down. I like adding kale to curries because of all the leafy greens it holds its shape and colour best during the cooking process. It’s also very rich in nutrients and fibre and lasts for a good two weeks in the fridge before cooking.
  5. Taste the curry and add more salt if needed.
  6. Serve over cooked rice with a sprinkle of nigella or sesame and a squeeze of lemon juice. Enjoy!

How do you find good information? Becoming More Media Savvy

In this world of Fake News and people online shouting “Do your own research!” who seem to think doing research is sitting online taking in opinions of people who agree with them (known as confirmation bias), how do you find good information?

First of all, it is very important that you realise that the internet is a positive feedback loop that is designed to keep us engaged by feeding us little squirts of dopamine every time we see or click on something that gives us pleasure, or have what we perceive to be a successful social interaction. Our phones are listening to us and tracking the things we click on, so if we click on the fluffy kitten video (for example), the app we’re on will keep showing us fluffy kittens. We get more dopamine in the act of clicking on the link to go and look at the fluffy kitten than we do actually looking at the fluffy kitten. This is called Reward Prediction Error Encoding, something that used to be mainly seen at the gaming tables in a casino, a reason why social media became so wildly popular and changed the world forever. I personally keep seeing animal rescue videos in my news feed. If I didn’t know any better, after seeing months and months of pets getting rescued I could end up thinking that rescuing an animal is the main way for a person to get a pet. We inadvertently create our own echo chambers by clicking on the things that interest us, and if we don’t get exposure to other sources of information, such as from interactions with other people (who just by existing are more contradictory and nuanced than any algorithm can be ready for), we can think what we see online in our news feeds, or from that one tv channel that we watch is the full picture.

Add to this the parasocial relationships we engage in when we go online and expose ourselves to online personalities and social media influencers, who deliberately use language and create intimacy to make us feel as though we’re their friends (even though in reality they have no idea who we are), which gets us invested in what they say or what they want to sell. Parasocial relationships used to be the domain of rock gods and film stars, blowing kisses to the camera, but now it’s available to anyone with a phone.

All of this is not inherently bad, if it’s just for entertainment purposes. Feel good neurotransmitters are nice. Going online to get them is generally a lot more low risk than using cocaine (for example). Modern life can be very lonely, especially in these days of COVID, so it’s not inherently a bad thing to watch someone’s livestream or see their day in the life video. We do however need to see the parasocial relationship for what it is when someone on a screen who says things like “I love you guys SO MUCH!” or if they upload a video of them talking to you casually from an intimate space that you would not normally see, like in their car. (Picture the difference between someone with a set agenda in a professional setting, wearing business attire giving a powerpoint presentation, and then picture someone wearing active wear holding a to-go cup of coffee from which they drink from while they talk, like you’ve met up for a coffee date. Or some bloke talking to you in his ute wearing dirty work gear with his sunglasses on his head. Which makes you feel more comfortable and willing to agree with what they’re saying?) We do need to be a lot more aware that this behaviour is a tactic to increase engagement from you, the viewer. More clicks and engagement means more money from advertising, which is where the profit is online, let alone the merchandising, meet and greets, e-books, memberships, subscriptions, patreons or speaking events that the person you’re watching might be encouraging you to buy or participate in.

So it’s very hard out there to find out what’s up when we’re all just squishy bags of chemicals who want to make more friends. Feel good chemicals aside, how do you find good facts online?

Step 1 always is find the primary source. When it’s for something that’s important, like a health issue, it is not enough to accept the article that you read in the paper or online or see on the news at face value. That doesn’t provide enough information for you to make informed decisions. It’s all very well for a newsreader to say “A new study has shown…” but if it’s for an issue that is important to you, go and find the original study. Or go and ask your doctor. (I will shortly be writing a guide for reading research papers that I will link here). If you are reading a blog post, or someone is telling you about this thing that’s great on Instagram and providing you with links to go and check it out, go and look at those links. Do they provide information on what this thing has been found to do, or is it just marketing bumf with a Click To Buy button at the end? Find other links that have nothing to do with that person. Your click through to that page they recommended counts as engagement, which makes the person you’re following look more successful, potentially getting them more brand deals in the future. Who else is recommending the same thing? Are they someone you would listen to in real life? Are they all sending you through to that one page?

It is an important skill to differentiate between whether you are reading a news article or an opinion article. A news article will be quite dry, you will find the who, what, why, where and how listed in the article and it will start with the important bits and will then have more quotations and general information towards the end. The writer will not insert themselves into the article. If you’re reading a physical paper, these articles will be towards the front. If you’re reading an opinion piece, it will be located more towards the middle of the paper, it will usually be by one particular person whose articles always appear in that one place, say top left of page 14, they will probably talk about their interpretation of an event rather than just reporting an event, and they will probably write about that one topic repeatedly. There will be personal references to the writer themselves, events in their lives and how they feel about things. An opinion piece may be entertaining, but it is not to be treated as factual information.

Every single thing you look at online, on the TV, in the newspaper and in magazines uses hyperbole, clickbait and sensationalism to get your attention. This has been true ever since before the dawn of newspapers, the first time printing presses were used to distribute political caricatures to a mass audience. It is all still designed to catch your eye and make you take action, be it through clicks, likes, subscribing, buying, signing up for their newsletter or becoming a patreon and doing whatever will bring the creator and/or publisher money, and that content needs to be the biggest, the best, the most successful, the most serious, the most shocking, the most frightening, the most valuable and so on. It’s a main feature of advertising and we’re bombarded with advertising every single day, so whatever it is, it has to be made to be more eye catching. That’s why the meteorologist on the news will make rain sound like a significant weather event, like a Rain Bomb, when really we’re just going to get rain; and why the media seems to latch onto something quite benign (such as Safe Schools) and make it out to be a huge threat to society, and then they’ll run a poll on it. More clicks, more engagement. To navigate our way around this it’s really best to get your information from a lot of sources, preferably primary and original sources rather than opinions, and to step back for a bit then evaluate for yourself the importance of what that thing is.

It is important that we don’t get so attached to ideas that we experience cognitive dissonance, which is where someone can hold two beliefs that are in conflict with each other, or when our actions don’t align with our beliefs. We *know* they are opposing, and this causes us to feel uncomfortable, aggravated and stressed. Because we naturally desire to avoid discomfort, cognitive dissonance can affect our thoughts, behaviours, decisions and mental health, leading us to feel anxious, guilty and ashamed. We don’t like this either, so we will rationalise our choices, hide our behaviour from others, avoid talking about it, avoid learning new information that would go against this belief and ignore research, news articles or doctor’s advice that would contradict that strongly held belief.

Now, none of us have always behaved in a way that we’re proud of, and I am sure all of us have experienced cognitive dissonance at some point. Cognitive dissonance can be a useful tool for identifying when it’s time to reflect on what is going on or to encourage us to step away from the screens for a bit so we can re-calibrate.

A way that we can better arm ourselves for the barrage of information and content out there is to develop our critical thinking skills. Critical thinking seeks to identify reliable information and make reliable judgements. This tutorial by the Monash University goes on to explain the inquisitive, open-minded, willing to be challenged mindset of a critical thinker and the skills to develop in order to be one yourself.

So while the things I have written about in this blog post look quite post-apocalyptic and overwhelming it doesn’t have to be. Once we’re made aware of these tactics it allows us to wear the online world and media in general more lightly. We can still enjoy the content we previously enjoyed, but we can stop getting drawn into the drama and addiction of it all, we can decide to look more deeply into a topic elsewhere, we can find it easier to view many different sources before making up our minds on a particular topic, we become more adept at identifying when it’s marketing and then searching for facts. Using these tools we find it easier to develop objectivity about what we see. And then we can go outside.

I hope this helped!

Next up in this series is How to Find Reputable Experts. Coming soon!

Vegetarian Moussaka*

*Probably not a genuine moussaka. This is from a recipe I found somewhere back in 2017 and then recently made from memory. It turned out very nice, but I cannot guarantee authenticity, so don’t serve it to a Nonna and expect a good review. The cheddar cheese is the big clue. That was definitely in there back when I made it previously. Did I find that in a recipe, or did I wing it back then and now it’s sealed itself in amber in my memory? Who can say. (You. You can say. The internet is right there.)

Basically, moussaka are a Greek version of lasagna. There are layers of potato and eggplant instead of pasta (making it safer for the gluten free crowd) and instead of bechamel sauce there’s ricotta and cheddar. It freezes well and a lot of this can be made ahead of time and assembled for the final cooking later on. When I made this most recently I left it for a few hours before putting the dish and baking and I think this allowed the flavours in the tomato mix to develop.


1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 tin lentils, strained and rinsed
Garlic (loads)
2 grated carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large eggplant
2 large baking potatoes, peeled
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup or a small container ricotta cheese
2/3 cups grated cheddar cheese, with some more to garnish
Salt and pepper to taste


Cut eggplant and peeled baking potatoes into 1cm thick slices (I prefer discs that are roughly portion sized to make it easier to cut up later, but it doesn’t really matter). Pan fry each slice in a skillet until both sides are lightly browned and the slices themselves are half cooked.

While you’re doing that you can be working on the tomato portion. In a saucepan fry off some garlic. Add tinned tomatoes, marjoram, nutmeg and oregano, fry for another couple of minutes. Add tinned lentils and grated carrots (you can also use grated zucchini). Add salt and pepper. Cook it until the carrot or zucchini is cooked down and the sauce has come together nicely. Season with salt and pepper. It will taste quite sharp. Do not be alarmed. Set aside.

Mix together ricotta and cheddar in a bowl.

Get glass or pyrex baking dish. Add tomato mix, cooked eggplant, cooked potato and cheese mix in layers. Feel free to let it be very rustic.

Finish with a cheese layer on top. Add the last of the grated cheese. Put in oven that you’ve preheated to 180 degrees for about forty minutes. Do not set your heart on the cheese on the top browning . There’s too much moisture in the ricotta cheese for that to happen.

Serve with a leafy green salad.

Borscht Recipe

This is a traditional Russian recipe for what is essentially beetroot and red cabbage soup. It is nutrient dense and can be made with meat as well. This is a vegetarian version and posted for a couple of my clients, both of whom are on liquid diets. It is a nutrient and mineral dense option that will still contain a decent amount of dietary fibre. This is also a good option for people whose kids don’t like vegies. Put it in the blender and let them stir through their own sour cream.


1kg beetroot
3 carrots, peeled and grated
3 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion
6 oz tomato paste (170 grams or 6 tablespoons or one small tin. I have used half a tin and it was fine)
3/4 cup of water
1/2 medium head of cabbage, cored and shredded
1 tin of diced tomatoes, drained (I have used a whole can of crushed tomatoes)
3 cloves of garlic, diced
Salt and pepper1 teaspoon of white sugar


Fill a large pot with 2 litres of water and boil. Add beetroot and cook til the colour leaches out (about ten minutes. You can put these on to boil while you chop up the other things)

Add carrots and potato and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Add cabbage and diced tomatoes.

Heat oil in a skillet. Add onions, cook until translucent. Add tomato paste and water til well blended and then transfer to pot.

Add raw garlic to pot. Cover pot and turn off heat. Let stand for five minutes. Taste. Season with salt, pepper and sugar as desired.

To serve

Can be left chunky. I prefer to dice vegetables finely and leave as is. Can be blended. Pour into bowl, add sour cream as desired.

Tips from a recovering insomniac for better sleep

I was talking to a client yesterday about how to get better sleep when you’re the type of person who is what naturopaths call Wired and Tired. It’s a stage in adrenal exhaustion, very much a response to stress, and very hard to break yourself out of. You are tired all day and properly awake at night, you become increasingly anxious and it can go on and on in an increasingly severe negative feedback loop until you get quite ill. When you’re in this space the usual tips and tricks for better sleep like “have a ritual” or “meditate before bed” are completely unrealistic. Your Wired and Tired type of person is going to have to learn to climb down several steps before even contemplating rituals. That’s fine. I’ve been working on this myself all year, and I have some ideas that may help you.

First of all, get away from the screens for at least half an hour before bed (preferably an hour). Non-negotiable. Set an alarm if you have to. Get away from that blue light. It tells your brain that it’s still day time, which disrupts the circadian rhythm, the proportional daily rise and fall between melatonin and cortisol. We need an increase in melatonin at night to sleep well, and raised cortisol (due to stress or bright light hitting our retinas) keeps us awake. A normal balanced rise in cortisol gets us going in the morning. There’s blue light glasses to help with this, but really, get away from your screens. Whatever it is will still be there tomorrow.

Avoid eating much after dinner. Only have a piece of fruit or a warm caffeine-free drink or some water, preferably at least an hour before bed. Energy-dense foods such as chocolate, lollies or chips give your body fuel to keep powering on. A Wired and Tired person probably actually craves sugar or snacks late at night. That’s your cue that it’s time to go to bed. You’ve already had dinner. You know you’re fine. Bed.

Get an alarm clock that is not your mobile phone for your bedroom. Congratulations, your phone no longer lives, there, it gets plugged in to recharge in another room on silent (except for the emergency contact people that you’ve nominated already to be able to reach you) on something soft so you can’t hear it vibrate with all the various notifications. Use the Do Not Disturb or Quiet Time functions on your phone. Turn off your notifications. Get rigid about how much you are going to let that thing bother you. There’s all kinds of alarm clocks out there. You probably own one or have a radio that will do it already. Don’t have the radio wake you to the news. It’s never good. We know this already. The news can wait.

Get ready for the next day. Do things like put your clothes out, iron your work shirt, get your lunch ready, do the washing up, fold clothes, pack your bag. Anything that will get you away from the screens that will also give you less to stress out about tomorrow morning. We don’t want you going to bed with your thoughts still racing about what you don’t want to forget tomorrow morning. If a whole bunch of stuff is already done you will start tomorrow ahead of the game. If this becomes a ritual the level of stress in your daily life will decrease.

Bathing before bed is great to wash off the detritus of the day, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually (if that’s your thing). It’s a great thread breaker if you’ve been in a stressful environment or around unpleasant people. Use some lovely scented things. This is a good time to break out some aromatherapy. I use the moment to practice good skin care. If I’ve been in a funk the first thing methodically do to pull myself out of it is to start with the skin care routine. Wash. Serum. Moisturise. Dry skin brush if you like. Brush your hair. Brush your teeth. Take your night time meds and supplements. Only drink a small amount of water to minimise getting up in the night.

Now you are going to do a big word vomit. If you’re up all night with words racing around in your head and you’re stressed about all the jobs you have to do, everything you’d like to say to that person, all the big plans you have…. The list goes on. It’s a din in there, and it’s keeping you awake at night.

You are now going to put it all down on paper. No screens, remember? So the scrap paper is for the jobs for tomorrow, your shopping list, the stuff you need for work. This is also doing yourself a solid for tomorrow because I find the anxious, over-committed, under slept types tend to flap around all day and then feel like they haven’t achieved anything (and then become even more anxious and sleep even less and the din in their heads gets even louder). Seeing a set series of tasks in front of you is empowering because you now know exactly what you have to do. You’re going to put this list in your bag first thing when you get up tomorrow morning.

I get my best, most creative ideas at night, so I write them down too. There’s no way I’d come up with stuff this good in the day time, and by tomorrow it will be gone. Write it down. I have a separate book for this, for goals and business plans. Invaluable. I have previously gotten to the end of the year and been frustrated that I haven’t achieved what I wanted to, probably after a lot of flapping around. That’s because I didn’t see it all right there in front of me, methodically planned out. Now it is. I am much more productive and it is very satisfying.

If you are a writer, you are not going to start writing your story or essay now. You can write your plan and outline and little snippets of dialogue or things to look up so it doesn’t disappear on you. You are absolutely not going to write out chapters now. That will still be there tomorrow. Just write out enough to get things out of your head so that you can rest easier.

Oh, and feelings. Purge them on paper too. I have a diary (very separate from my goals and plans book and never on my shopping list) where I occasionally write out all the feelings that are keeping me up late. I write letters to the people who provoke such strong emotions in me that keep me awake at night. I never send them. If anyone read it they’d be worried about my mental health as though I feel that way all the time. I absolutely do not. I purge it all so then it’s gone, fall asleep and then don’t feel the need to read it again. If it’s a positive thing, write your love a love letter. Give it to them. Why not? Dying arts are not yet dead. Have at it. Vive l’amour.

And finally, I’ve found that the Wired and Tired type have a hard time being kind to themselves. A very powerful way to ease into getting better at being kind and nurturing towards yourself is to lean into nostalgia. Nostalgia is positive, comforting and familiar. Put on your favourite old pyjamas, start re-reading your favourite books and quietly play your favourite music, especially the more relaxing albums you loved as a teenager.

I will help you get started with the music. If you feel like nostalgia and you’re one of my old school massage clients who came to see me when I was working on Lawrence Street or Limestone Street, here is one of my favourite albums by Ludovico Einaudi, who I played to my massage clients every day between 2009 and 2013. He wrote Nightbook from sketches he wrote in the notebook he kept beside his bed late at night when he was on tour. Very apropos. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading!

Tips for Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is different practices and habits that are necessary to have good night-time sleep quality and full daytime alertness.  Healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health, improving quality of life and productivity.


  • Establish a routine. Get up and go to bed around the same time every day.
  • Try to only sleep when you are tired, rather than spending too much time awake in bed. If you haven’t managed to fall asleep in twenty minutes, get up and go do something relaxing or boring.  Sit quietly on the couch with the lights off or read something dull.
  • Ensure adequate exposure to natural light during the day to maintain a good circadian rhythm. Sunlight hitting the retina elevates serotonin during the day and melatonin during the night, as it should be.  If there is not enough natural light exposure melatonin rises during the day and serotonin rises during the night.
  • Exercise regularly to promote good quality sleep. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can improve sleep quality.  Avoid strenuous work outs before bedtime.
  • Make sure the sleep environment is pleasant. The bed should be comfortable, the room should be cool.  Bright light from overhead lights, lamps, tv screens and mobile phones will make it difficult to sleep so limit exposure to these before sleep where possible.  Consider blackout curtains if necessary.  White noise machines, ear plugs, eye shades, humidifiers or fans may also help improve your quality of sleep.
  • If you must take a nap, make it before 3pm and for less than an hour. Set an alarm if you need to.  Short naps of 20-30 minutes can be great or increasing mental alertness and reducing stress.
  • Develop sleep rituals, things that remind your body that it is time to sleep. It can be gentle stretches, meditation or breathing exercises for fifteen minutes, or having a cup of caffeine-free tea.  It could even be getting things ready for the next day so you can go to bed knowing that you are organised and do not have to rush as much in the morning.  This is also useful to help you not look at screens if this is a problem for you.
  • Having a hot bath or shower before trying to sleep as it raises your body temperature, causing you to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again afterwards.
  • Don’t watch the clock. Many people who struggle to sleep keep checking the time, re-enforcing negative thinking and causing stress.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet will help you sleep well, but timing is important. A heavy meal shortly before bed can cause sleep disturbance due to digestion, but some find a completely empty stomach also disturbs sleep.  If this is you, plan a light snack, such as some fruit or a warm glass of milk.
  • Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime and if you drink, only consume a moderate amount of alcohol 4-6 hours before trying to go to sleep. Alcohol can make you drowsy but too much will cause a disturbed sleep in the second half of the night as the body processes it.
  • Avoid foods that can cause heart burn right before sleep. These include heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried foods, spicy foods, carbonated drinks and citrus fruits.
  • And lastly, keep to your normal daytime routine even if you did have a bad night’s sleep. Don’t avoid activities because you are tired as this can re-enforce insomnia.