Hard work keeps us sane!

In this nauseating “new normal” there’s nothing typical about spending so much time with our families, so much of my lockdown has been spent trying to come up with ideas that would allow me to spend time away from them. Don’t misunderstand me I enjoy their company but not all day, every day, we all need a break.  The reality of parenting and being a husband is that sometimes it’s a complete pain in the arse.  Inspired by watching grow cook eat my first attempted break for freedom was to start a small  a vegetable  garden. But this didn’t work because when my kids saw muck and dirt they were like monkeys on speed charging around the garden. veg garden 1 The next escape was an offer to help lay cobble lock with a good friend nearby, this was moderately more successful because when a block falls on a 5 year olds toe they don’t want to do it again so they disappear. But the paving sand, they love the sand so they potter back over until I throw another block at them …. Of course I’m messing. And then I went painting, well preparing a building to be painted would be a fairer description, and at last I was free. No children, no wife just me a power washer and a wall, I loved that power washer.

In the past three months many of us have returned to making, creating and fixing to pass time. This  was once the foundation of our lives and our economy. As consumers, most of us no longer make things, we buy them. We don’t fix things, but replace them instead. It has become so hard to be self-reliant, and this learned helplessness has left us bereft of “individual agency” – this is the experience of seeing a direct effect of our actions in the world, and knowing these actions are genuinely our own. “Progress” has removed so many of us from taking care of our own things – cars, plumbing, home improvements. People now almost take pride in this ignorance which was spawned from the modern culture of passivity and dependence. Manual competence – the ability to make, produce create and fix –  has a wider significance. It gives a sense of autonomy, independence and a feeling of responsibility for tangible assessable work. We get to see an end result.

Work is a central part of most people’s lives, so it’s not surprising that it is critical to the way we feel about ourselves and to our sense of well-being. Work generates a feeling of being worthwhile, and a sense of meaning or purpose in life.  But for too many  of us  working in the offices and in the iCloud of our modern economy  means the product of our day now feels illusive and untouchable. Office work rarely produces any tangible output. What has been accomplished at 5pm, at the end of the day? Physical jobs that yield palpable produce have become exotically unfamiliar,  but this type work often leads to greater job satisfaction—irrespective of how well it is paid (Bryson, A. and MacKerron, G., 2017). There are physical and mental benefits from creating and expressing ourselves in a material way (Stuckey & Nobel, 2010). In our always–on, always–connected world we work with our fingertips and our smart phones and tablets are the modern peacemaker, used to comfort, entertain and relax.


Hard physical work is becoming increasingly rare, so subconsciously many of us are now finding ways of doing it for free. Running and the act of creating or making are intimately linked, and its bloody hard work. Running rewards practice and perspiration rather than innate ability.  The longer the distance of a running event, the greater the capacity to influence and improve results through training (Joyner & Coyle, 2008). The outdoors has become a place of extreme work and suffering—with marathon runners, triathletes, iron men and tough mudders putting their bodies on the line with no expectation of getting paid. The only reward is a medal for participation and the priceless feeling of knowing you have done it. It brings us down from the iCloud. For too many of us work defines us, it decides when we get up, when we get home and  how much time we spend with our kids, often without being very rewarding in the middle. In the last 3 months I’ve watched the vegetables that we planted grow. We shared the first strawberry after  dividing it in four. We’ll be lucky to get another, but the carrots and potatoes are looking well. When I park my car on my friends cobble lock  I’ll take a bit of pride in my small contribution and  when I go for a run passing the building I helped paint I’ll remember how the power washer  preserved my sanity during lockdown!



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I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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