This week I picked up the phone and spoke to someone very dear to me: my daughter, Annie Harris.
Annie works as a personal trainer and fitness coach in Sydney, for revl. Like many families across NSW, we’ve been separated because of the lockdown, so it’s been a while since we caught up in person. And during the lockdown, she decided to start a GoFundMe fundraiser for the vital services that Lifeline provides.
I couldn’t be prouder of what she’s doing, so I thought I’d share a little of her story.
Hey Annie, how’s work going during the lockdown? Hopefully not too much longer to go now before restrictions ease a little…
Usually, I’m doing group fitness coaching but Covid restrictions have meant we have had to shift to one-on-one training. It’s fortunate we can still keep up our work while gyms are shut but it’s not quite the same. I’m looking forward to getting back to the groups when restrictions permit.
Tell me about the GoFundMe fundraiser you’ve started for Lifeline: 24kms Everyday for 30 Days – what made you do this?
I have a client I’ve been training who told me she volunteers for night shifts on the phones for Lifeline, alongside her busy life as a mum and her day job. I really admire that and we got talking about it. She told me about the suicide rate in Australia and I decided to do a fundraiser for Lifeline.
I was shocked to find out that suicide is not only the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 and 44, which is my age group, but it’s also two times more likely to affect people in rural populations, like Singleton. The statistics make for some really tough reading, so I really wanted to do something to help Lifeline provide their vital 13 11 14 phone service across the country, particularly as calls to their support line have increased during Covid.
Tell me why you chose to do 24km for 30 days. That sounds like an awful lot of exercise to me!
I chose 24 kilometres a day because it represents one kilometre for every hour of the day and Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. Their phone lines are never shut, which is fantastic. Lifeline’s crisis support line also receives a call from someone who needs help every 30 seconds, which is why I chose 30 days.
I couldn’t help thinking of the manpower and resources Lifeline needs to cater to those numbers. Each year, over one million Australians reach out to Lifeline for support and they have over 10,000 volunteers. But the pandemic has only increased demand for their services. The latest statistics show demand is up 20%. The great thing is that people who are lonely or need help are actually reaching out so I wanted to make a difference by helping Lifeline provide their vital service.
That’s so great, Annie. What type of activities are you doing to make up those 24 kilometres each day?
Well, I’m mixing it up a bit. On the first day, I biked it. Day two I rowed. Day three I biked 10km and ran 14km. I might just do a cycle tomorrow for an active recovery. It’s hard work but it’s worth it. Pain in your physical body from exercise is usually temporary. It’s your mind that can really affect you, over time.
I’m so proud you’re doing this, Annie. Mental health is always important but it’s even more important right now, in the face of these unprecedented challenges we’re seeing in all aspects of our lives from the pandemic.
Thanks for your support, Mum! I think there is still an underlying element of mental health being difficult to talk about. Covid has taken away that social element we are all so used to and made so many people go from isolated to extremely isolated. You need to have awareness around it. It’s OK for someone not to be OK, and great to have a service like Lifeline to be there and listen.
And there’s a link between fitness and mental health too isn’t there?
There’s quite a bit of overlap between fitness and your mental health. Getting out and doing something like fitness can be a big help for your mental health. Nine times out of 10 I have people tell me that they come to the gym for their headspace. Your headspace can certainly benefit from exercise. It’s more than that, but it does go hand in hand.
That’s really interesting, so going to the gym can help your mental health?
Absolutely. Fitness isn’t a magic bullet but it does have many positive effects. It can be so daunting for people to go to a gym environment, but I love helping them find enjoyment in something that is challenging, that can transform their daily lives.
My inbox has been full of emails with people who want to join in the fundraiser too and I think it’s nice that fitness can still bring people together, even remotely, during this time.
Well, I’m making my donation right now – keep up the great work Annie!
You can donate at this link to Annie’s Go Fund Me 24kms Everyday for 30 Days – Lifeline Australia
If you need help or support, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au.