Stay in touch with your loved ones and your community
- Maintaining healthy relationships is important for our mental wellbeing. We can stay connected with our friends and whānau by doing things like texting or video-calling..
- It's times like this that we all lean on one another. If you're feeling distressed, talk to someone you trust.
- Small acts of kindness helps shift our focus from our own worries, and remind us about the good things in life. Why not ask your Nana about your whakapapa? Or drop off some baking to your neighbour?
- We are all dealing with COVID-19 in our own ways, and sometimes that comes out as frustration or anger. Try not to take this personally. Lead by example by giving people the benefit of the doubt, not escalating tensions, and giving them understanding and empathy. We all need a little bit of kindness to get through this.
Stick to the facts
- Find sources you can trust like covid19.govt.nz, your Iwi, or local community group leaders. Fact-check information you get from newsfeeds, social media or other people. The COVID-19 social media team are also happy to answer any queries.
- Seeing lots of posts about COVID-19 can keep us in flight-or-flight mode. It helps to limit your social media if it's making you feel distressed. Asking your friends and whānau to keep the chat "COVID-free" can be a big help.
Look after your body
- Our physical health has a big impact on how we feel. Try not to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that make you feel worse. Be kind to your body by trying to eat healthily and getting some exercise each day. It's good for your wellbeing and keeps your body strong too.
- Going for a walk, run or bike ride can help lift your mood and clear your head. Or try a home workout.
- Do activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. This could be exercising in your living room, reading, watching a TV series, building something in your shed, singing, or gardening.
Focus on the present
- Focusing on the present, rather than worrying about the future, can help you cope with difficult emotions and improve your wellbeing.
- COVID-19 is an event like no other. You're not alone if you're feeling a bit drained or overwhelmed.
- If you have experienced mental distress before, you have unique strengths to get through times like this. What has helped you get through before? What could you do now?
- Doing things like keeping a gratitude diary has helped people feel less anxious and more hopeful and happy. Write down three things every day that you feel grateful for – it doesn't matter how small.
- Practising relaxation or mindfulness may help you focus on the present if you feel overwhelmed by worry.
Look after your sleep
- Good quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel mentally and physically, so it's important to get enough.
- Try to keep regular sleeping patterns and keep up good sleep hygiene practices – like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment.
- Try to get at least 20 to 30 minutes out in the sunshine every day. Getting out into the sunlight helps your body clock know when day and night-time are, which makes it easier to sleep.
- Try not to sleep more than you need to. It can end up in a cycle of you feeling more tired, and more down.
Coping with COVID-19 anxiety
- Concern about COVID-19 is normal. However, some people may experience intense anxiety that can affect their daily life.
- New things like seeing masks while we’re out and about may make some of us feel anxious. Try to remind yourself that by following the guidelines, we are all uniting to keep our loved ones and our communities safe. Masks, sanitiser and everything else we do are all signs of how much we all care for one another.
- If you feel anxious when you're out and about, practise some mindfulness exercises, like noticing the feeling of the ground beneath your feet, the sounds of birds, or counting the colours you see. A mindfulness app may help you practise.
- If wearing a mask makes you feel panicky or like it's harder to breathe, there are things you can do to help you get used to it.
- Practise wearing a mask around the house to get used to it.
- Do something to relax before and after you wear a mask, like getting some fresh air.
- Experiment with different masks – look for videos online for different types of masks that might suit you better.
- Get creative – find a fabric that really inspires you and makes you want to wear it.
- Distract yourself while you’re out and about, eg, listen to a podcast or music.
- You could also try reducing the time you spend wearing a mask, like planning your shopping in advance.
Financial support is available
- It can be very stressful if you've lost your job or are facing a drop in income. But, there is help and support available. This includes:
- a wage subsidy scheme
- leave and income relief support
- business cash flow and tax measures.
- If you receive a benefit, this will continue, as usual.
- Planning a budget and sorting out your finances can feel scary. But making a plan and sticking to a budget can give you something to be in control of.
- If you're visiting an agency or organisation (eg, Work and Income) for assistance you can take a support person with you if you want. It's also a good idea to be prepared. Check what your rights are and what assistance you might be entitled to. Look up what documents you might need. Have a think about how you'll explain what you need.
What if it becomes too much? Getting free help
- Sometimes it is hard to know if what we are feeling is normal, or if we might be experiencing depression or anxiety. You can take a self-test on depression.org.nz to help you know what's happening for you.
- Let someone you trust know. Don't keep these feelings to yourself. There are people who can and want to help.
- Take one idea from the lists above and start small with self-help steps.
- It's OK to ask for professional support: If you feel like you are becoming distressed, call or text 1737 at any time to talk to a trained professional for free.
- If you want to talk to a professional a good start may be your doctor, or contact your psychologist, therapist or counsellor if you have one.
- You can call the Depression Helpline about how you are feeling or to ask a question: 0800 111 757 or text 4202.
Try a free wellbeing app
- There are lots of new apps, online groups, and community services popping up all the time, so it's a good time to try something new and find the support that works for you.
- Try The Journal. It's 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.
- Try the new Mentemia app from All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan.
- Try Just A Thought, free e-therapy courses to help you manage your wellbeing.
- The health journal app Melon provides a health journal, resources and self-awareness tools to help manage your emotional wellbeing.
- There's also an eTherapy programme called Staying on Track that teaches practical strategies to cope with the stress and disruption to everyday life.
A lot of people are feeling the impact of COVID-19, and some people are feeling especially distressed. We can look after each other by make an extra effort to keep in touch – particularly friends, whānau and those in our community who may be more isolated or distressed.
Ways you can support someone could include:
- Asking them what will help them to get through right now. If they aren’t sure, you could make a few suggestions.
- Daily texts and video chats can help – often your loved one just needs someone to be there and listen to them.
- Even if someone doesn't reply, just reaching out to them lets you know you're here for them.
- Ask if they want you to support them getting some help, such as going with them to the GP.