Getting back out there
IRT Greenwell Gardens resident Ve Rao talks about what makes her resilient and how COVID inspired her to help others.
Ve Rao is used to new beginnings.
The 82-year-old has lived at IRT Greenwell Gardens with her husband Bob for two years now, after moving from IRT Tarrawanna Gardens to be closer to their daughter. “So we started from the beginning again, making new friends,” Ve explains. “We were just starting to get things together when we had the very traumatic experience of the bushfires. My daughter lives in Kangaroo Valley and had to be evacuated. And then COVID hit. 2020 was a traumatic year but I’m not giving in.”
Ve realised how isolating life could be for people during lockdown. “Especially for people who cannot get out there,” she says. “Before COVID we used to meet in the hall for my exercise and dance classes or get together for coffee or a BBQ.”
So when IRT’s Area Manager Retirement Villages – Southern NSW Donna Mepham said the hall would be opened again for use, with restrictions, Ve was very hopeful of some normality returning to residents’ lives. She was keen to restart her line dancing and exercise classes, which she had established pre-COVID. She also ran similar classes at IRT Tarrawanna Gardens. “I’ve always had a very active life, so I started up a line dancing group and also an exercise class for residents,” Ve explains. “Line dancing is my first love and I was missing it terribly. We do very easy dances once a week on a Saturday.” It’s a perfect style of dance for these times of COVID.
She explains her other class, the exercise class, is seated and is at capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions, with 12 residents taking part, all with varying abilities. “We use balls, bands and weights,” she explains. Ve says the exercise classes are as much about exercise as they are about mental stimulation. “People get the chance to get out of their homes and meet new people. We do a lot of talking and laughing.”
She explains her other class, the exercise class, is seated with 12 residents taking part, all with varying abilities. “We use balls, bands and weights,” she explains. Ve says the exercise classes are as much about exercise as they are about mental stimulation. “People get the chance to get out of their homes and meet new people. We do a lot of talking and laughing.”
Ve found six months of ‘doing nothing’ during lockdown and tight restrictions very hard and says reorganising the classes was a way of helping herself too. “Six months of doing nothing was awful and it really made me think of others in the same situation,” she says. “The classes are about social, physical and mental stimulation.”
Ve describes herself as a glass half full kind of person and that being resilient came naturally to her. “I’ve had several new beginnings in life, moving from India to England, and then England to Australia.”
Moving between retirement villages to be closer to their daughter was a new beginning too but she and Bob have adapted and created new opportunities for themselves.
Ve is hopeful for the future and believes life post-COVID will be a new beginning for everybody. “COVID has changed the way I do things and go about my life,” she explains. “But I look for the positives in life.”
Coping with challenges and building resilience
There are many ways to cope with stress and strategies to build your resilience. Here we share information from the Australian Government’s website healthdirect on how to do just that.
Stress and setbacks are a part of life, and you can’t avoid them. There are many different ways of coping with stress and everyone is different, so it’s about finding something that works for you. Anything that is not harmful to your health and wellbeing could be worth a try, such as:
- taking time out to relax
- exercise or meditation
- breaking a challenge down into small, achievable goals
- celebrating achieving your goals
- keeping a journal
- thinking about the big picture.
Resilience enables you to better cope with challenging situations, and helps with your mental wellbeing.
You probably already have skills and support networks that help you be resilient. You can build these up even more, making it easier for you to cope with life.
You can build your resilience by:
- knowing your strengths and keeping them in mind
- building your self-esteem — have confidence in your abilities and the positive things in life
- building healthy relationships
- knowing when to ask for help
- managing stress and anxiety levels
- working on problem solving skills and coping strategies.
For more information or details about support networks visit www.healthdirect.gov.au.