R U OK?: Beachgoers to gather and de-stress, help mindset
BUNDABERG will gather on a local beach at sunrise tomorrow, in a bid to enhance the wellbeing of others and raise awareness about mental health.
Every year on September 10, Australians are encouraged to check in and ask 'are you OK?'
But with around 100,000 suicide attempts made around the country each year and a higher risk in regional areas like Bundaberg, the community is encouraged to find ongoing ways to check in on others or reach out for help.
Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said more than four million Australians living in regional areas had been impacted by suicide in some way.
"I live in our regions and you only have to look around and see that global disasters like COVID-19 hit our local economies, communities and services harder and faster than our capital cities," Ms Murray said.
"The better we can proactively predict what economic and social risks are facing our regional and rural communities, the better we can prepare Australians and prevent suicide rates increasing.
"In shining a light on suicide prevention, it's important to not only help those in need, but also support Australians to know what to say beyond 'are you OK?'"
As Wide Bay representatives for the Australian Labyrinth Network (ALN) Cynthia Hoogstraten and Ramona Lane's role is to share the benefits of walking and drawing labyrinths with others.
"Since I started drawing on the beach, I realised it was not only a positive for the wellbeing of others but also for myself," Ms Hoogstraten said.
"It is a mindful exercise, that challenges my brain but it is also a way of releasing stress and anxiety."
As part of R U OK Day, a labyrinth will be drawn tomorrow on the beach outside of the Bargara Surf Life Saving Club, at sunrise.
"It was just an idea I came up with over the weekend as I have a passion for drawing Labyrinths on the beach and it is rewarding to see how the community engages with them," Ms Hoogstraten said.
"I like to draw a themed Labyrinth or one with a message so it relates on a day-to-day basis. There are many different intentions one can have to walk a Labyrinth."
Ms Hoogstraten recalls meeting a woman on a beach one day who was going through a challenging time, as she anxiously awaited results from a biopsy test.
But when the woman encountered one of her beautiful labyrinths, it made her feel calm and she realised worrying was impacting her mental health.
"She felt she couldn't enjoy life and felt isolated at home waiting for the phone call, but the day after she heard the news that her test was negative, she decided to go for a walk on the beach to clear her head,"
"There she saw the labyrinth that I had drawn in the shape of a turtle with the words 'stay calm' written on the sand … she was really touched by the message and what I had drawn on the sand and she said it made her morning."
Ms Hoogstraten said she encourages members of the community to walk the labyrinth to release stress, let go and receive clarity, before returning along the path feeling empowered.
Tomorrow is R U OK Day. For more information, visit ruok.org.au
If you are struggling and require support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36.