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Health Scare

Smoke approaching cyclists.

Take care of yourself during a crisis

While I write this, outside my study window smoke has turned the sky white. It wraps trees like a veil and I can no longer see the horizon.

Bushfires: it is a health scare on a national scale. It affects the air we breathe and threatens our homes. A personal health scare can likewise affect the quality of our day to day life. It can threaten the vitality of our body.

The bushfires are a reminder of how we handle a crisis. Initially we can be left feeling debilitated.

"We were looking forward to holidays with our kids. We had planned outings and camping. Then the fires came. We weren't able to do the things we wanted. We were stuck indoors. We didn't know what was going to happen, next day or next week. It made it hard to plan."

Here are some suggestions that can lift us up and energise us to take action:

1. You Are Not Alone

A public crisis can bring people together and strengthen the feeling of community. A privately kept crisis can be isolating.

"In Bermagui, during the bushfires, my father-in-law David Harris set up a listening post for his community. He is helping to strengthen the community and reduce isolation."

If you are experiencing a health scare, know that you are not alone. Many people have experienced a similar challenge. Are you keeping it bottled up? Would you be willing to share with others?

"A few years ago, my husband worked in a stressful workplace. After sustained challenges he suffered an anxiety attack that left him debilitated for two weeks. He decided to enrol in a meditation course. At the course he discovered a community that encouraged him to find better ways to manage the pressures at work."

Find a community you can talk to and give encouragement to each other.

2. What Do You Value?

A health scare can obscure the pleasures you used to enjoy. But it can also bring clarity about what you value and what isn't so important.

Bushfire near Canberra

"When the bushfires got worse, we made our fire plan. It forced us to identify what we would take and what we would leave behind. The first priority: get the kids away from damaging smoke. Next: important documents, wallets, snacks, laptops, spare clothes, sleeping gear and tent. Everything else can be left behind!"

Make a list! It can help you to identify what is important. What lifestyle choices do you value? What do you leave behind?

3. Take Action

How do we respond to a crisis? Do we panic, give up, fight or run? If you have prepared, you will have an action plan. It is better to have a plan that is not perfect, then no plan at all. With a plan you can act, get momentum and try new things.

"When bushfire smoke got really bad, we were cooped up in the house with two young children for days. We had to act! We packed and drove out of town to Sydney. It felt good to take action and get out of there. The energy started flowing."

A crisis is not pleasant, but it can spur action that brings positive changes into your life.

Stay safe during this astonishing Australian summer. Let's hope this smoke comes with a silver lining.

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Teang Pao