Victorian nurses, midwives and carers gathered at picturesque Dight Falls in Abbotsford yesterday to take a moment to connect with nature and each other during Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week.
The ANMF ‘Walk n’ Talk’ morning echoed this year’s theme, ‘It’s all about you’, by encouraging members working under difficult conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic to focus on their own health and wellbeing.
Maternal and child health nurse Kate Maxwell, who headed along to the walk, believes there is nothing better than a walk and chat for wellbeing, especially when it involves mixing with other nurses and healthcare workers.
Kate practices a range of self-care strategies to keep on top of her health.
“I love to go for a walk after a shift or after work but I also practice meditation every day and that’s been for the last several years,” she said.
“That’s really been beneficial in focusing more on the moment and not worrying about the past or the future.”
Working amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, Kate revealed.
“It has made work busier in that the general public’s anxieties, particularly parents, their anxieties around lockdowns, isolating their children, having to work whilst looking after their children, working from home, etc. has been quite challenging.
“For a long time there, I think maternal and child health nurses were the only people they could access to have a face-to-face visit and discuss their concerns. It was quite a privilege to support them.”
Worryingly, this year’s Jean Hailes National Women’s Health Survey, released this week, found four out of 10 women believe their health has declined since the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s a stat that resonates somewhat with Kate.
“Even though I walked more [my physical health has declined]. And mentally, you have to really keep on top of it to keep healthy in mind. It’s important to do something for your mind every day, as well as your body. I try to find a bit of joy in each day really; it’s important.”
First-year nursing student Matilda Preston also attended the ‘Walk n’ Talk’ event with friend Zara Stavros, a health sciences student who is looking to transition into nursing next year.
“It’s been interesting,” Matilda says when asked about the course.
“It’s more than I expected but it’s also kind of better than I expected. In the first couple of weeks, you just realise how many roles that a nurse can have. It’s not just the understudy to a doctor, they actually have their own roles and you can travel with it and do anything with it.”
Aged 18, Matilda admits health isn’t her number one priority, yet, she is well aware of the need to maintain an active lifestyle and balanced diet.
This year marks the 10th Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week and celebrates the organisation’s 30th birthday. The 2022 campaign focuses on the top five concerns in women’s health: menopause, pelvic health, mind health, movement and health checks, and will remind women that it’s okay to put themselves first.
The ‘Walk n’ Talk’ event finished with a morning tea where attendees were given the opportunity to receive health tips and advice from specialists and other ANMF partners, including HESTA, Nurses & Midwives Health and Nurse and Midwife Support.
For more information visit https://www.womenshealthweek.com.au/