A billabong surrounded by grass and swampland
A billabong surrounded by grass and swampland

How Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can stay healthy and strong during the coronavirus: thoughts and feelings

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.

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:

It’s OK to be stressed and worried

It’s OK to be stressed and worried about the virus. It’s normal to want to protect our families, communities and cultures. What’s not so good is to bottle it up. It’s better to recognise how we are feeling, talk about our fears and worries and get it off our chest. That way we can build up our strengths. Remember, we are all in this together. And if you get really down or feel upset all the time, seek support from a friend, family, health worker or doctor, including talking to a doctor or counsellor on by phone, Skype or by video-link (see a list of free services at the end of this tip sheet). The Australian Government has also established a website to connect people to mental health support: https://headtohealth.gov.au/.

Have hope – this won’t last forever

At some time, the virus will come under control and life will return to something like normal. It’s important to remember this and have hope, even as we prepare to cope with what is ahead. Staying at home, not seeing our Elders, behaving differently - it may last a month, it may last many months, but it will end. Keep a focus on all the good things you can do to stay healthy in mind, body and spirit.

Chill out

You might find yoga, meditation and mindfulness helpful, and there’s also dadirri – the deep, spiritual reflection that our mob have been doing for thousands of years. They bring the body and mind together through breathing, physical relaxation or silent listening. To find out more see: https://www.miriamrosefoundation.org.au/about-dadirri. Sometimes it is hard to switch off and relax when you feel really stressed. Some people find it easier to do something active first and then chill.

Keep yourself happy

Our people are good at looking after everyone else but not so good at looking after ourselves. Take some time out to make sure you are ok. Do things that make you feel good and build your strength. If you are strong and happy, this will help others to do the same, especially kids.

Don’t let money worries get on top of you

You may have new or additional money worries until the virus is under control. Its ok to get some support, many people will be in the same boat. If you feel like you need help paying the rent or bills, or affording food and essentials, talk to someone for free advice at https://ndh.org.au/ and find out more about Australian Government financial supports at: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/payments-and-support-for-information-for-indigenous-australians.


Image courtesy of Wayne Quilliam

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