Women’s Health Loddon Mallee (WHLM) were thrilled to partner with Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services (LCMS) recently to deliver a 10-week dance fitness class for multicultural women in Bendigo. The benefits of the classes went beyond physical fitness, with participants reporting an increase in opportunities for social connection as well as improvements in their mental health and wellbeing.
With a lack of culturally appropriate activities for CALD women in the region, initiatives like this are vital to provide opportunities for women from refugee and migrant backgrounds to make social connections and improve their personal and community wellbeing. The classes, held over 10 weeks, were attended by women from Hazara, Karen, Malaysian, Indonesian, Sudanese, Vietnamese, Filipino and Australian communities – all living in the Greater Bendigo refio
Experienced teacher and choreographer, Sarah Cook (Movement Zone, Castlemaine), led the group through a synchronized dance routine, building on the steps with each class. Participants also had opportunities to share their cultural dances – an element that was highly regarded by the participants.
“I am happy to share our cultural dance with everybody.”
Each week the class concluded with a get together over fruit and water where participants learned about the 5 Ways to Wellbeing – a simple framework for supporting personal wellbeing.
“I am not very good in dancing, but I like being here as I am slowly learning few dance steps”
“I love dancing and knowing other people here today is stress free”.
What is the 5 Ways to Wellbeing?
5 Ways to Wellbeing is a framework that sets out simple actions to improve personal wellbeing, backed by extensive international research. The principles of wellbeing include connect, give, keep learning, be active, and take notice.
Connect – Having friends and family to connect with is important for maintaining mental health and wellbeing. You can connect with people in person over a cuppa, online, via text, or over the phone. To make new friends try joining a local group where you might meet people with similar values or interests.
Keep Learning – Keeping your brain active and learning new things can help to boost your self-confidence, provide you with new coping skills and knowledge and even help to give more meaning and purpose in your life. You could try learning a new skill or exploring a new hobby, listen to a podcast about a topic of interest or read a book you have been meaning to get on to.
Take Notice – Slowing down can help you to learn self-awareness, reduce negative thoughts and maintain a level of calmness. Take the time to slow down, be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. Some pathways that may be helpful for you to connect with yourself and the present moment can be yoga or meditation, taking a stroll outdoors, or just going outside and feeling the sun or the breeze on your skin.
Be Active – When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain and trigger a positive feeling. There are many ways you can stay active. Go for a walk or run, do yoga, jump on your skateboard or bicycle, get out in the garden. Do what feels right for you.
Give: Giving to others can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on your personal wellbeing. You do not have to spend money to give. Generosity can be as simple as taking the time to check in with a friend or offering your seat to someone on public transport. If you take some time to practice empathy and identify ways you can improve the lives of those around you, everyone will reap the benefits. If you have spare time you can volunteer in your community. Try contacting a local organisation that you support and see if your skills can be utilised there. This might be a local support service, your local community radio station, an opportunity shop.
For more information about the 5 Ways Framework and other ideas for taking care of your wellbeing, visit: 5 Ways To Wellbeing Australia