John Howard's advice on dealing with stress
FORMER Australian prime minister John Howard says his early morning walks and ability to catch a quick catnap helped him remain in the nation's top job for so long.
Mr Howard was a key speaker at a Tweed Byron Police District Mental Toughness Day yesterday, which was also attended by Queensland police officers.
"As some of you may have noticed while I was prime minister, I used to walk every day,” he said.
"I found regular exercise incredibly important, and what was important is you do it at a regular time.”
Mr Howard said his ability to sleep anywhere at any time was also beneficial.
"Sleeping, some people sleep well and some people don't,” he said.
"I have no secret wisdom on that except I'm still a very good catnapper. I could sleep in aircraft, I flew a lot across and around Australia, I could fall asleep very easily, I'd sleep sitting up in the front seat of the car.
"Some people in politics sleep well, others will worry all night about something.”
Mr Howard said having clear goals and a supportive home life were also "fundamental” in dealing with everyday stress.
He touched on his government's decision to ban semi-automatic and automatic guns following the mass shooting at Port Arthur in 1996 which killed 35 people.
"The stress involved in that was very difficult but nothing like the stress over the years that was removed from families that would have lost loved ones through gun-related homicides,” he said.
"It also made a reduction in the level of youth suicide, particularly among young men in rural areas of Australia.”
Mr Howard told police while he couldn't speak as a psychologist, he could speak as a " human being who had an interesting life and had to deal with a lot of stress”.
"I'm very fortunate that I had good support mechanisms at home, I have a very intelligent wife who understood me, my strengths and weaknesses and knew the importance to me of a very secure home base,” he said.
"That of course is fundamental to success and resilience for anybody, whether they're a police officer or politician.”
Mr Howard said having goals and the ability to separate normal life from work life was key to building resilience.
"I think you need goals, I don't think you can ever be resilient and survive in any activity or profession unless you have very clear goals,” he said.
Tweed Byron Police District Superintendent Wayne Starling said Mr Howard was someone he "always respected and admired”.
"He saved so many lives by standing up and introducing firearm legislation all those years ago, at the time they introduced legislation 600 people were dying a year from firearms, that dropped in 2014 to about 200,” he said.
"He is a remarkable man, a great role model and really good for the police.
"I can say every police officer in the room today had nothing but respect for John Howard and it was great for them to hear from him.”