Park Ambassadors on wellbeing, Part 2
WA Parks Foundation’s Park Ambassadors share their experiences throughout COVID-19 and how they stayed connected to nature during the restrictions and self-isolation in Australia. The Ambassadors gave us an insight into their time at home over the past few months, and the discovery of new hobbies and pastimes. In Part 2, Ryan Mossny, Kim Eckert OAM, Howard Read, Griffin Longley, Mike Wood AM and Professor Stephen Hopper AC offer valuable advice and ideas for keeping a happy and healthy mind.
“Social distancing and isolation for myself and my wife Candice has been a bit of a challenge. As we are both outdoor people the biggest challenge has been the restrictions to our movement and our ability to be outside enjoying nature. Having said that we are very fortunate to live in a comfortable home with lots of space and a view of the outdoors which made things a lot easier.
To keep myself connected to nature during COVID-19 I have been actively gardening both indoors and outdoors. This has been very therapeutic for me and is very calming. I’ve also made friends with many of the birds that visit our balcony garden. In particular, I have become very close friends with a magpie that visits twice per day singing his amazing songs (including his very good copy of an ambulance siren!)
Gardening has probably been the number one activity that I have on undertaken as part of my isolation period. In addition to that I found much more time for reading for pleasure. With the type of work that I do my reading is restricted to reports and historical works. Having the extra time at home has been great to catch up on reading for pleasure. This has included reading many biographies as well enjoying novels and other stories that are not true life accounts.”
What’s Ryan’s advice?
“My advice to others is to find something that does make you happy and do it as much as possible. I received an electric skateboard as a gift for Christmas. Since the start of isolation I’ve ridden over 800 km on the board by myself allowing me to be outside enjoying the many parks, cycle paths and the streets of our amazing city.”
Kim Eckert OAM
I have been extremely fortunate during these times, still being able to work at my place of employment. I have had to learn all about video conferencing, and although it has been a great way to “stay connected”, I’d much prefer face-to-face meetings and am looking forward to getting together with people again in the near future.
Working in Karlkurla Bushland Park, Kalgoorlie-Boulder has been an absolute blessing for me; I’ve been able to continue working in our Park and be connected to nature.
I have found connecting to people, parks and nature are the three things that are best for my mental health. I have discovered different ways to stay connected to people, not only for work, but with family too i.e. ZOOM family calls and video Facebook posts. I also believe it has strengthened my leadership skills, by being more aware and connected to my team members, and understanding how they all cope with different situations.
What’s Kim’s advice?
“Listen to your body and mind to find out what makes YOU happy and find a way to do it. It may not be exactly how we are used to doing things, but where’s there’s a will, there is always a way. Remember, you are not alone, please reach out to family and friends if you need help or even just to talk.”
“Despite these unusual and devastating economic times, there has never been a better opportunity to absorb the amazing assets of Perth and Western Australia by changing your previous regime.
I greet the day earlier than normal, say 5.30am, it won’t be light at this time of the year, but often less windy and certainly peaceful and invigorating. I jump – may be a bit strong – I determinedly make my way out of bed quite focused. I am not in the age quartile where I need to exchange the travelling time saved by not driving to the workplace or taking public transport, for my own health and wellbeing. However, may I suggest that you take advantage of the new world to be a better, fitter person by using the morning time for your own and your family benefit. Even if you are required to be physically at work, make the time in the morning, so much more spiritual, inspiring and lasting, than a TV game show in the evening. It will stay with you the whole day.
I head for the real world walking or riding in a natural park environment or along the beachfront, even dive in the water for a quick dip. Gathering with often new associates at a coffee shop, stand up coffee has been a bonus, and check out the friendliness of people early in the morning.
My regime is reinforced knowing that we are in a very special place in the world. And by 7:15am I feel as though I have started the day with a half a holiday.”
“I have taken this time of social distancing as an invitation to spend more time outdoors in nature. Making sure I get outdoors daily for a walk in the neighbourhood or at a nearby beach or park, and getting to a park pretty much every weekend. From a work perspective Nature Play WA has been working harder than ever trying to help families through this tough time by providing hints and tips to having great family time outdoors.
It is really a staggered thing for me. Lots of time in the garden, daily walks, and getting hikes in parks in on a weekly basis. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I took four days for a walk on the Bib Track in the Perth Hills, which was a great way to get separation from the daily cycle of work and concerns, and also a wonderful thing to be reminded of just how beautiful the Perth Hills are.
Nothing altogether new, but I am definitely walking more than I usually do. And the regional travel restrictions have certainly sharpened my focus on finding great nature spaces in the Perth and Peel region.”
What’s Griffin’s advice?
“I think one of the great lessons from this pandemic has been to focus in on what the really important things are. I for one have felt a whittling down of the things that concern me. With that in mind, my advice is simply to lift our eyes beyond the things that feel so pressing and important to the things we cannot live without. And for me that is family, community and nature.”
Mike Wood AM
“I haven’t changed many or any of my practices. Still walking every morning and evening, although I have also started running, so I suppose that’s a change.
I am paddling again for upper body strength, getting down to the river every few days.
I go to work most days and sit in the office on my own designing trips within Australia and New Zealand for this year and walking holidays in Europe for next year!”
Professor Stephen Hopper AC
What has isolation looked like for you?
“Working at home. More time in electronic communication (Zoom meetings etc.). Daily beach walk. Observing and photographing biodiversity at Goode Beach.
What’s Stephen’s advice?
“Take time to exercise every day, preferably with a friend”
Picture: Professor Stephen Hopper at Goode Beach in Albany. Nestled in the King George Sound it is surrounded by numerous islands and enjoys views to Mount Manypeaks Nature Reserve.