How to stay strong

When First Nations people are going through a tough time, there’s often a lot of talk about ‘staying strong’. But what does this actually mean?  We asked four deadly First Nations people – Uncle Mot, FinesseMane, Royston Noell and Jahvis Loveday – about how they stay strong.

Click here to download a transcript of this video.

What does it mean to ‘stay strong’?

‘I think staying strong is prioritising yourself and your community's health …’

One of the best ways you can stay strong is by caring for your wellbeing. When you’re happy and healthy, it’s easier to bounce back from tough times and to support your loved ones when they need a helping hand.

Caring for yourself starts with checking in on how you’re going. This helps you to know when you might need to slow down and take a break.

‘Staying strong’ can also mean feeling connected to your loved ones, and not being afraid to reach out to them if you feel you need help. If you try to cope with a problem alone, it can seem overwhelming and scary. But when you're tackling it alongside people who care about you, it can feel a lot easier to manage. 

Caring for your community also gives you strength. Checking in on others and looking after them when they need support feeds your spirit and helps you feel connected to your mob. 

‘To stay strong, in one word, means “celebration”.’

Staying strong isn’t just about keeping your head up through the tough times. It’s also about celebrating with pride during the good times! Celebrating who you are, where you come from, and all you have to offer, builds your resilience – which means it’s harder to bring you down. 

How to stay strong

Practise self-care

It might sound obvious, but self-care really does make you feel good. It doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. It’s all about finding what’s right for you. 

‘Looking in the mirror and telling yourself you’re beautiful, you’re worthy, you’re smart, you’re kind …’

Here are some of the ideas for practising self-care that were suggested in the video:

  • Find a hobby or an activity that you enjoy. This could be cooking, fishing, gaming, weaving, photography – whatever! Spend time having fun doing those things.  

  • Step away from social media. When things get tough, switching off from socials can really help.

  • Get active. Go for a walk, or play a game of footy, to get your blood pumping and your body and mind feeling positive and strong. 

  • Spend some time in nature. Tap into your connection to nature and spend time in the fresh air and sunshine to feel renewed and energised.

  • Practise positive self-talk. Saying one or two positive things about yourself a day might feel silly to begin with, but over time these affirmations will build up your self-confidence and leave you feeling stronger. 

Connect with community

Connection to other mob is an essential part of staying strong. Your community can rally around you when you need support, and you can be there for others when they need it, too. 

‘I’m always sitting down with cuzzie boy, or aunty or sista girl, and just making sure that we’re all okay …’

Here are some ways to connect with your community:

  • Spend time together. Just being around your community, and setting aside the time to share moments together, shows your loved ones that you care for them. 

  • Give back to your community. It can feel really good to support your community and to step up when others need your help. Learn more about why helping out mob feels deadly

  • Check in on mob. Your community's wellbeing affects your wellbeing, so having regular yarns with your mob about what they’re going through can help you all to feel strong. 

  • Listen to your Elders. Your Elders are a source of knowledge, strength and power. Listening to their stories and advice will help you feel connected to your culture and ready to tackle whatever life throws at you.

Set boundaries

Boundaries are really important, as they help you draw a line between what you can do and what you’re willing to do. When you’re in a tough situation, having boundaries in place means you’re able to walk away knowing you did the right thing for your own wellbeing. By sticking to your boundaries, you’re less likely to experience burnout or feel overwhelmed.

‘Setting those boundaries so you don’t get past that limit in the first place.’

Some examples of boundaries mentioned in the video were: 

  • Know when to push back on sharing your culture. Wanting to share your knowledge and experience with others is incredible, but being expected to represent all mob all of the time is exhausting. It’s important to know what your limit is and to push back when non-First Nations people expect too much from you. 

  • Surround yourself with people who uplift and support you. Choosing to be around people who inspire, uplift and celebrate you, rather than those who bully, demean or belittle you, is a boundary that will keep you feeling healthy, happy and strong!

Honour your culture

How you choose to connect to your culture is deeply personal to you. There’s no right or wrong way to honour your culture, but taking the time to do some research about the cultural practices of your mob, or the mob of the Country you live on, may be inspiring and give you some ideas. 

‘You don’t need cameras, you don’t need eyes on you, you don’t need nothing. All you need is you, yourself, and your connection to your place.’

What can I do now?

  • Need some more support? Give 13YARN a call on 13 92 76, or check out this list of support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

  • See how Uncle Mot, FinesseMane, Royston and Jahvis cope when they feel like they’re expected to be spokespeople for mob.