How Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can stay healthy and strong during the coronavirus: eating healthy and exercising the mind and body

This information was extracted with permission from an article originally published by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention national leadership body. You can read the original and complete article here.

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia acknowledges and pays respect to Elders, both past and present and all generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now and into the future as the Traditional Owners of this land.

It’s important to be eating healthy and exercising the mind and body during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all feeling worried and stressed about the coronavirus. Our lives are changing in many ways, and we have to prepare ourselves. Life won’t be the same until the virus is under control, but with the right information and a sensible approach, the road ahead can be easier and less stressful. To stay mentally strong, here are some tips:

Get some fresh air and exercise

Try to get some fresh air. Go for a walk if permitted but remember to keep at least two big steps from anyone outside. If you’ve got a garden or balcony - use it. If you can’t go out, find new ways to exercise at home – it will help with the stress. There are plenty of work out, yoga and exercise videos on-line – search video sites like YouTube until you find one you like.

Eat well

Think about what you’re eating and try and eat well - plenty of fruit and vegetables, can make a big difference to how you feel. Some foods also help to boost your immune system so try some new foods or recipes. Websites with plenty of healthy recipe ideas can be found at the end of this tip sheet.

Be creative or learn something new

Get into playing music, singing, storytelling, dancing and creativity to reduce your stress and keep your spirit strong. Make a deadly playlist. Draw, paint, write, create something new like a garden. Talk to your Elders over the phone and learn about the music and stories of Country. Take up a hobby. Use the time to grow and learn. When we are creative, it takes our mind away from our worries and helps us to be innovative and to heal. It can give us joy in difficult times. This is especially important for children.

Find and give space and respect

Wherever you can, make some part of where you live your own space –a small corner, a chair, or a room. Add a plant, a cushion, whatever makes you calm and happier. Create your own space and respect other people’s need for space as well. If you like listening to music or watching TV, try using headphones to keep the noise down for others. If you’re working from home, try to set up a separate space so you can feel the difference between work and home.

Cut back on smoking

It’s important to keep your lungs strong and healthy because the lungs are particularly vulnerable to virus infection. Despite the added stress, aim to cut back or quit if you can. Now might be a great time to chat with Quitline or download the MyQuitBuddy app (links are at the end of this tipsheet). But if you have to smoke, wash your hands with soap as much as possible because otherwise you could be transferring the virus from your hands to your mouth with the cigarettes. It is also important to not smoke inside or around kids and family to keep them and their lungs healthy.

Think before you drink

In times of stress, it might feel normal to reach for a drink. But think first – How might my drinking affect others in the house? Is drinking becoming the main way I am coping with the coronavirus? Talk to your doctor or health service if this is the case. It might be the time to start thinking about how to cope better and get your wellbeing back on track.


Image courtesy of Wayne Quilliam

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