Surviving Invasion day: Some Tips for Mob

Surviving Invasion day: Some Tips for Mob

We are welcoming Caroline Kell, Mbarbrum woman and qualified Counsellor and Founder of Blak Wattle Coaching and Consulting to share some non-exhaustive suggestions to support Mob in the lead up to and on Invasion Day (Jan 26).

85 years ago (1938) on the lands of the Gadigal People of the Euroa Nation (Sydney) Aboriginal Elders and Leaders organised a silent protest a Day of Mourning to call out the inhumane treatment of Aboriginal people since the arrival of the First Fleet 150 year prior.

‘On this day the white people are rejoicing, but we, as Aborigines, have no reason to rejoice. This land belonged to our forefathers… but today we are pushed further and further into the background’

 Uncle Jack Patten (Protest's first speaker)

Sadly, since that time, little has changed. And for many First Nations people the date is a stark reminder of the colonial violence which continues in so called Australia.

The effects of racism and discrimination carry an immense toll on First Nations people, with January 26 looming it’s important we also take time to manage our health, wellbeing and nurture our spirit.

The health and social inequities we see today between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people are not due to biology or race - they are clear, direct consequences of Australia's settler-colonial history and ongoing racism’,

Professor Ray Lovett (Ngiyampaa | Wongaibon) 

For First Nations people, there are many things that can help sustain our emotional and spiritual wellbeing and there isn’t a one size fits all approach - so, Mob drop into the comments below and share with us other things you do to survive Invasion Day.

Keep doing what makes you mind, body and soul feel good.

Try your best to stick to your regular health and wellbeing routines in the lead up to Jan 26. 

When we encounter difficult emotions, situations, and racism, sometimes our regular routine can go out the window. We may find ourselves staying up later, moving less, and in the absence of a routine, have more time to focus on negative emotions.  This can create even more anxiety and stress.

Research has shown the importance of a healthy routine to manage mental health. 

Maintaining or cultivating a regular routine can help you:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Form good daily habits
  • Take better care of your health and wellbeing
  • Feel more productive
  • Feel more focused
Screens down.

In today’s modern world, there is a nexus between ‘social media’ and ‘political activism’. Many social movements rely on social media to spread information faster than ever before. It’s perfectly normal to feel triggered when you are exposed to posts about colonisation, racism, violence, invasion, and survival, because it relates to yours and your families lived and personal experience.

You can:

  • Give yourself permission to set an online boundary – truth bomb, often people don’t set boundaries because they don’t feel worthy enough to manage their time and energy, and instead prioritise others. Giving yourself permission to set a boundary is a great place to start.
  • Be intentional with your time and energy and set time limits on social media and phone usage – we’ve all gone down that dreaded rabbit hole after one-to-many scrolls. Most apps allow you to set daily times limits. Ask yourself, what a reasonable social media limit looks like. 
  • Limit people and pages which make you feel unsafe or triggered – just like day-to-day life, we all need to step back from people and spaces that make us feel unsafe or triggered at times, its ok to limit, restrict, mute, and unfollow people and pages. And return to then when you’re feeling stronger.
  • Temporarily delete social media appsyou can always set a personal challenge and ditch the screen entirely. It might help to plan out how you will manage this time and write a wish list of things you wish to do when you’re offline, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out. 
Seek out safe Blak spaces.
Stand in your power.
Be intentional about where and with who you spend your time. As First Nations people, often we are living in two (or many) distinct worlds and juggle many competing demands. During periods such as Invasion Day, we see an enormous spike in unpaid labour and experience an increased emotional and cognitive load.
Many of us maintain work, kinship, and community responsibilities as well as volunteer, organise rallies, and provide emotional support for our families and are expected to educate and inform allies and non-Aboriginal people.

As humans, we have a limited amount of energy (which will come as no surprise to anyone). Research links emotions and energy levels. When you experience positive emotions like love and passion, your energy increases. While intense negative emotions like rage, grief, and burnout, will drain your emotions and your energy.

During these periods, it is OK to step back and say no. To stand in your power, and set and maintain boundaries from people, places, and spaces that drain your emotional reserve and limit your energy. Where possible, chose places where your Blakness, and your experience as a First Nations person, is fully embraced. Finding harmony in a safe Blak space with no expectations to educate others can make getting through Invasion Day easier.

Trust your ancient intuition.

Science is catching up to what many First Nations people and communities intuitively know. Trust your ancient intuition and know that only you truly know what’s best for you. And if that means you don’t have the capacity to attend a protest and rally, know that it’s OK for you to make that choice.

How often do you turn to a friend, family member or google when making a decision? Or get too overwhelmed and make no decision at all? Believe it or not, often we know the answers we need.

For First Nations people, just like trauma epigenetics that is passed down, we also have ancestral wisdom stored in our DNA. This is the same DNA that allowed us to farm, hunt, gather, find warmth, adapt, stay safe and survive. It’s really the oldest algorithm on the planet.

There are many ways we can tap into our intuition, here are some tips:

  • Close your eyes (if you feel safe to do so) and sit gently with yourself.
  • Turn your attention inwards. Breathe.
  • Allow yourself to scan your body, go inward and truly explore what’s coming up for you.
  • Ultimately, there is no right or wrong decision, if where and how the decisions feel in the body, that matters.
  • Trust your own judgement and agency. And, if you need to step out of rallies and activism and social media and connect with the people and places that make you feel safe, know that that is ok.
All the feelz.

Colonial violence and racial abuse are a systemic issue and can create a range of difficult emotions which are completely normal but can feel incredibly painful at times. If your spirit feels strong enough, you may consider leaning into the difficult emotions instead of avoiding or minimising them.

It may help to create space to lean into these emotions to get clarity on these feelings, and how they are impacting you.

You can ask yourself:

  • What am I feeling today? Name the emotion - the Feeling Wheel below may help.
  • What can I give myself today?
  • What support might I need from others?
  • How have I managed these emotions in the past? What has worked and what hasn’t?


Image: The Feeling Wheel | by Gloria Willcox | All The Feelz

You're not alone. Reach out.

If you are feeling distress, know it’s a normal response and you are not alone. There is no shame in reaching out for professional support.

We all have periods when we struggle with emotions, and when racial attacks occur especially around Jan 26, when we tend to see a spike in negative and distressing emotions. If during this period, you are having difficult regulating your emotions (having big intense thoughts and feelings), if you notice a change in your relationships, feeling withdrawn or you’ve lost joy in things that normally provide joy, you notice a change to your sleep or appetite, don’t be shame and to book an appointment or telehealth consultation with Counsellor.

Caring for yourself right now, is an incredibly brave and powerful thing we must normalise. 

You can contact:

  • 13YARN on 13 92 76 who are available 24/7. A free crisis support line for Mob who are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping. You can talk with a trained Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Support Worker anytime.

 Or you can use:

  • iBobbly App. A social and emotional wellbeing self-help app for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 15 years and over. Completely private and confidential, it helps by showing you ways to manage your thoughts and feelings, as well as how to decide what is important in your life. You can access this via your app store.

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