Focusing on fitness and mindfulness during the drought, by Narelle Hunter

When I first read about Ginny Stevens in Delta's Prospect magazine almost 2 years ago, I wanted to get to know this incredible young woman, who was showing so much hope and compassion for our remote rural communities. We met at a gorgeous café in Wagga and I discovered just how passionate Ginny was about fitness, mental health and the importance of our social interactions, when farming can be so isolating. Ginny heard all about my four daughters and life on the farm with my husband in Bribbaree and I learned of the little twins who were due to arrive 6 months later, making Ginny’s life even more incredible, however busy.

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I very happily jumped on board with Active Farmers and offered my Mindfulness service to Active Farmers in the form of a ‘Rural Mindfulness’ workshop and an online 30 day health and wellness challenge I co-authored with Anna Ross, Ed Stevens and Ginny Stevens herself.

Although the workshop itself hasn’t changed very much over this 2 years, what is occurring in farming the form of a drought that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Having just completed a Rural Mindfulness workshop in Coonamble I have a whole new appreciation of the importance of lending hand to those families battling with very real financial issues and levels of stress, worry and disappointment.

I had actually spent my first 12 Christmas seasons in Coonamble, my first Chrissy I was only 2 weeks old and now it almost felt like coming home as I travelled along the familiar Newell Highway. My own mindful memories came flooding back, from the galahs filling the sky to the mobs of kangaroos standing in the shade of the trees. I remembered my grandmother sitting around the hot kitchen table with us all (7 families all sleeping over together) and how we had to pack up the butter before it completely melted. I remember the dust storms, the bliss of the Coonamble pool and the boys catching bright green frogs each night. It seemed the most perfect place for me to be teaching mindfulness.

For this is what mindfulness is, it’s the great conversations you have with people who inspire you, it’s the long drives and the familiar scenes, it’s the sound of the galahs call and all the small detail we lock into our brains filing system for a lifetime. I teach that mindfulness is a determination to stay interested in today, almost like we did as a child. It’s also listening to our body and responding with a stretch when it needs it, a deep breath despite the worry and a bit of self-care, no matter how busy the day is.

My main message is this; If you are trying to manage the conditions of the drought or you are facing a challenge of another kind try to look after your health. Weirdly we can often respond to worry and disappointment by forgetting to exercise, making unhealthy food choices, sleeping less and drinking alcohol, coffee and other stimulants. This can actually make the impact the stress is having on our health worse, possibly leading to anxiety, depression, relationship issues and poor decision making. If your stress levels have escalated please ensure you speak to someone, especially your doctor as there is help available.

What about getting fitter over the coming months, living more mindfully and therefore becoming mentally and physically stronger? Make healthy choices and reduce those things you know are making you feel worse. This drought can feel like it is taking so much at the moment but don’t let it take your health! Hang onto your wellbeing, work towards a fitter body and mind. This is where our future truly lies. 


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Ginny Stevens