Stay well

Looking after all aspects of your life can help you keep well

Once you’re feeling better it’s a great time to think about what will help you stay strong. Here are some ideas you could try to be prepared against  future distress.

What can help prevent it happening again

It’s normal to find yourself feeling awful again sometime in the future. But you’ll be able to deal with it easier if you learn to recognise what gets to you, and know how to look after yourself if it happens.

While many people recover from depression and anxiety completely and have no further problems, over a third of people can have a relapse within the following year, and about half will have further episodes later.

But once you’ve improved your mental health, there’s plenty you can do to help you stay well. The thought of going through another bout of depression or anxiety is hard to face, so the more you understand, the better you can work out how to prevent it occurring again in the future. And if it does occur again, you’ll be better able to deal with it.

It’s helpful to learn to understand what triggers your anxiety and/or depression and to recognise what your warning signs are. This can help you reduce the risk of a relapse. If you do experience a relapse, remember what you’ve learned about what helps you get through. Remember that there is always help.

Physical (Tinana)

Take a good look at your day–to-day life and try to maximise the good things you do for your body (tinana). Try to make sure you eat well, sleep well, keep physically active and limit alcohol. None of this is new. It’s just a matter of keeping on doing it and making it a part of your everyday life.

Maybe you could…

  • make regular trips to a place that makes you feel good like the beach, river or bush
  • go for regular walks with a friend
  • drink lots of water every day
  • get eight hours sleep every night – less alcohol and less time on Facebook or the internet before bed might help
  • keep taking your medication as prescribed.

Mind (Hinengaro)

Lots of things contribute to good mental health, including understanding your thoughts (whakaaro) and feelings, noticing how you react to what’s going on around you, and remembering and recognising the good things in your life. Expressing our feelings and thoughts is also important. We don’t all find these easy but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Maybe you could…

  • start a notebook and write down one thing you’re thankful for each day
  • notice when an activity lifts your spirits and energy and try to do some of that activity every day
  • spend some time working in the garden
  • maintain good work-life balance – don’t let work (mahi) stop you doing things you enjoy
  • kōrero with whānau and friends
  • keep a handy list of where to go for help.

Social (Whānau)

Your relationships with whānau, friends and other people in your life are vital to your wellbeing. They keep you connected to your whakapapa and identity, and they provide support, caring and encouragement. The sense of belonging and strength they give helps keep you steady. It's important to keep an eye on any personal conflicts and relationship problems and try not to let them get too big.

Maybe you could…

  • take up something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t got around to
  • join a class or group, like cooking, weaving, kapa haka, netball/soccer, waka ama
  • offer to babysit nephews, nieces, or mokopuna
  • check out local courses or groups that teach you how to build healthy relationships
  • set up regular catch-ups with friends
  • keep up with whānau, go to family gatherings
  • volunteer at a local organisation, like your church or marae
  • get involved in your kids’ school (kura) or pre-school (kōhanga).

Spiritual (Wairua)

Many things can contribute to your spiritual health. It could be your faith or religious group, your cultural belonging, knowing your whakapapa (where you come from), feeling connected to your ancestors (tīpuna), and feeling part of your social and natural environment. To keep your spirit strong it’s important to be around nurturing people who make you feel like you belong.

Maybe you could…

  • find a spot where you feel at peace
  • make regular trips home to visit whānau and your tūrangawaewae. Visit your maunga (ancestral mountain), awa (ancestral river), marae or urupā (cemetery)
  • learn a second language or your native language
  • walk on the beach
  • learn some karakia
  • chant
  • read spiritual texts
  • meditate.
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