Feeling low or down about restrictions on our normal lives is also a normal response. That means it’s more important than ever to know the key steps to managing your mental health.
It’s understandable to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, anxious or angry if you have the COVID-19 virus and are unwell. Everyone reacts differently and some may find this time more challenging than others.
Even if you're isolating, you can still reach out to your usual supports – whānau, friends and workmates – over the phone or online. Staying in touch more often with the people you care about, making sure they’re doing okay, will help you too.
Breathe and be present
Knowing how to use your breathe to calm your nervous system is a key tool in your wellbeing kit. Taking a long, slow breathe in, holding it for a few seconds and then slowly, slowly breathing out really makes a difference. Try out the breathing exercises at Hikitia Te Hā All Right?
If you are feeling unwell and your mental health is getting worse while you're isolating, let your local support team know. They will be able to assist you.
You can also contact other services you may need such as the following:
- Call 1737 – Freephone or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor for support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing. This service is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Lifeline – Freephone 0800 543 354 or text HELP (4357) to talk to a counsellor or trained volunteers.
- Alcohol Drug Helpline – Freephone 0800 787 797 or free text 8681 or online chat at alcoholdrughelp.org.nz for support with alcohol or other drug problems.
- OUTLine NZ – Freephone 0800 688 5463 for confidential, free LGBTIQ+ support from a trained volunteer. This service is available from 6–9pm every evening.
Minimise news feeds
Try to reduce how much you watch, read or listen to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed. Seek the latest information at specific times of the day, once or twice a day if needed. Be aware of how much time you spend in front of a screen every day. Make sure that you take regular breaks from on-screen activities.
Avoid alcohol and drug use
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink or don’t drink alcohol at all. Don’t start drinking alcohol if you have not drunk alcohol before. Avoid using alcohol and drugs as a way of dealing with fear, anxiety, boredom and loneliness or social isolation.
Find the lighter moments
Even in times like this, there are still moments that can uplift us. Make a point of finding something beautiful in nature each day in your garden, or out your window. And listen to music.
Accept the situation
COVID-19 is a viral infection and your body is fighting it. Everyone will feel different in their recovery – some people may recover in days, some in weeks, while for a few it could be months. Some things are out of your hands – and in this case, you can’t do much about the existence of COVID-19. But there are things you can do: stay at home, stay away from others and save lives, wash your hands often and cough or sneeze into your sleeve so you don't spread the virus (or other bugs).
There's a lot more information here - and data free!