Coping with COVID-19

Feeling anxious and stressed about COVID-19 is normal

You can find everything you need to know about COVID-19 in one place, learn the simple steps you can take to unite against the virus and slow its spread here: Unite against COVID-19

Got symptoms of COVID-19?


If you have symptoms please contact Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 (or international +64 9 358 5453) or your doctor immediately. Call your doctor before visiting.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about COVID-19


Remember that it’s totally normal to feel stressed and anxious.

There are some things you can do to keep up your wellbeing and stay connected during these times. Remember we are all in this together, so here is some wellbeing advice to support you, your whānau, and your community.

Tama Tū, Tama Ora. Tama Noho, Tama Mate.

You can do a lot of things to help you, and your whānau, start feeling better.

Connect and share


Although advice and circumstances may change in the weeks and months ahead, the need for support will remain constant.

  • Connecting with other people is important for keeping up your wellbeing. Connection provides others with support, allows us to feel better about ourselves, and for all parties gives reassurance and reduces anxiety.
  • Think about how you can interact with others without putting your health, or theirs, at risk. If you have access to it, use technology to stay in touch with others, by text, mobile or video call, messenger and social media.
  • Check in with your friends, family, and neighbours regularly by phone. If you can, assist people who may be more vulnerable than you (for example, people in self-isolation with no access to the internet or who cannot get to the shops).
  • When talking to children or teens about COVID-19 be open, honest and calm. Help children with anxiety by providing accurate information. Read advice for Parents and Caregivers at Unite against COVID-19 for insights on talking to young people.

Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage


  • Being exposed to repeated negative information can be upsetting. While it’s important to stay informed, you may find it useful to limit your media intake if it is upsetting you or your family.
  • Try to stick to the facts and verified and government sources Unite against COVID-19.
  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe but that it is OK to feel worried. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you. Consider limiting your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media.
  • When others share information with you, their facts may not always be accurate – keep this in mind when you hear something about COVID-19 that is not endorsed by trusted sources such as Unite against COVID-19. You may want, as much as possible, to limit contact with people who seem to have difficulty talking about anything but COVID-19 and worst-case scenarios.

Maintain a positive mind-set and sense of hope


Although it is reasonable to be concerned, the Government, health workers and every-day people in Aotearoa-New Zealand and around the world are working together to slow the spread and help one another. During this time, it is important to remember that we are all in this together.

Be kind and don’t discriminate


  • Be kind and continue to check in on neighbours, older persons, those who are unwell by phone. Keep a safe distance of two metres from other people at all times.
  • There are many ways you can support people through this time whether it is keeping in touch, running errands, or collecting shopping for them. If you are dropping off food or supplies for others, please leave these at the door. Being kind to others not only helps them but it can also enhance your own wellbeing.
  • There are a lot of unknowns about COVID-19 but this is no reason to discriminate. Treat others with dignity and respect regardless of where they come from, their age, or whether they have the illness or not.
  • Remember, language matters – the way we all speak about COVID-19 can make a difference as to whether people feel empowered and willing to be tested and seek treatment, or to provide help to others in need.

Taking care when you are staying at home (self-isolating)


Some people may need to self-isolate in their homes and away from others for a period of time. Being by ourselves for extended periods of time can be distressing and may increase feelings of loneliness, fear of becoming unwell, and boredom.

You can find more information about self-isolation on the Unite against COVID-19 website. Here are a few suggested ways to support yourself and others during this time.

It is normal to feel stressed or lonely when self-isolating, but there are things you can do to feel better


  • Stick to a routine such as having regular meal times, bed times, and exercising.
  • If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with someone close to you. You can also talk to a health professional. For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.
  • For more advice visit the Looking after your mental wellbeing section at Unite against COVID-19

Mental wellbeing


  • Remind yourself that your self-isolation is temporary.
  • Self-isolation is important for slowing down the virus and protecting us all.
  • Reduce or avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.
  • Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video or phone calls, texts and messenger.
  • Acknowledge your feelings as they arise and seek support if you start to feel anxious or depressed.
  • For those already managing mental health issues, continue doing what you know is good for you, and check in with trusted friends and family if you are worried about your levels of distress.

Physical wellbeing


  • Try to engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
  • Eat healthy food and drinks and keep alcohol intake to a minimum.
  • Keep regular sleep routines for adults and children.
  • Try to maintain physical activity in open spaces such as parks, beaches or bush walks.
  • Establish and maintain routines for your days.
  • Ensure you have enough of your medicines, food, and other supplies at home.
  • If you are well, do some jobs or fun things that you haven’t had time to do.

Reach out to others


  • Reach out to your support network.
  • Acknowledge your own and others’ feelings of distress.
  • Seek professional support if your distress is overwhelming.
  • If you notice someone else’s distress, ask them how they are, and what you can do to help.

There are also many ways that people in the community can keep in contact with people who are in isolation.

People with existing distress with a focus on high levels of anxiety and OCD


For people who have previous or existing experiences of anxiety or OCD, COVID 19 may increase or heighten distress that we are already feeling. It is stressful time for everyone and there are many unknowns. 

Find accurate information


  • For people who experience anxiety and OCD, the International OCD Foundation has some helpful information for the OCD Community during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Look after your social connections and mental wellbeing


While we are staying at home – virtual, phone and other non-physical contact is vital and can help us keep things in perspective. It might feel like a scary time, but people are ‘virtually’ coming together over COVID -19 and we will support each other through this.

  • Adapt to the new normal but remember that this situation is temporary. It may feel uncomfortable. But it doesn’t mean you are going backwards in your recovery – we’re all doing our best!
  • Keep up your support networks. Even if you can’t physically share space, you can still phone, video call, or connect via social media.
  • Make a list of a person a day to call. There maybe someone you’ve wanted to chat to for ages, but haven’t had the time. Now’s the time! And you can always send a friend a virtual hug.
  • If you are struggling, you’re not alone. Reach out for support, there are many virtual and phone-based support options. Consider The Journal to help you get through.

Look after your physical wellbeing


  • Keep and maintain your daily routines as much as possible.
  • Try and stick to healthy habits and quality sleep.
  • Keep to the guidelines for managing the COVID-19 risk from https://www.covid19.govt.nz/.
  • Keep to the 20 second guidelines when washing your hands.

Other COVID-19 and wellbeing information


Unite against COVID-19 is the All of Government website dedicated to Aotearoa-New Zealand’s COVID-19 response. This is your single source of information about COVID-19.

Free call or text 1737 anytime of the day or night to talk with a trained counsellor.

The Journal is a free, personalised programme to help you manage anxiety or depression and is a helpful tool for anyone having a tough time. You’ll be guided by a team of experts through lifestyle and problem solving skills to help you stay positive.

Wellplace.nz is a Health Promotion Agency/Te Hiringa Hauora initiative bringing together practical ideas, tools and resources for people who are leading wellbeing activitiy in Aotearoa-New Zealand workplaces

Anxiety New Zealand Trust since 1980 helped thousands of children, adolescents and adults in Aotearoa-New Zealand to build their resilience and recover from anxiety, depression, OCD and phobias.

International OCD Foundation helps those affected by obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders to live full and productive lives. Their aim is to increase access to effective treatment through research and training, foster a hopeful and supportive community for those affected by OCD and the professionals who treat them, and fight stigma surrounding mental health issues.

World Health Organization

Mental Health Foundation leads campaigns and services that cover all aspects of mental health and wellbeing. They provide free information and training, and advocate for policies and services that support people with experience of mental illness, and also their families, whānau and friends. MHF values the expertise of mental health consumers and tangata whaiora and incorporates these perspectives into all the work they do.

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