Staying on the bright side of the bubble 

It’s natural and normal that many of us will be feeling stress and anxiety as we clock up three weeks in our bubbles says Taranaki Civil Defence Alternate Group Controller Sue Kelly.

“Isolation can easily exacerbate feelings of worry and loneliness, and it can be easy to be hard on yourself if others seem like they are surviving lockdown better than you. It’s really important to remember that you’re not alone in having those feelings – this is a tough time for everyone, and there are some simple things you can do to help you feel better.”

These include reaching out to your usual supports over the phone – family and whānau, friends and workmates. It’s also good to stick to a routine with, for example, regular mealtimes, bedtimes and exercising.

“Sharing how we feel and offering support to others is important,” says Sue. “Reaching out and hearing a familiar voice can help us feel connected and less isolated, while making sure we have a routine and a plan for the day ahead is an important way to keep on top of things.”

“Tell yourself that how you are feeling is a normal reaction and will pass – it’s nothing to be afraid of,” says Sue.

“We’re all in this together, and while we might not be able to be physically in touch right now, it’s important to stay connected in other ways. New Zealand is known for its manaakitanga and now more than ever we need to remember the power of kindness and uniting together.”

But if you feel you're not coping, it's important to talk with a health professional. For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor. 

These are the top ways to look after your mental and emotional well-being:

  • Stay connected:  This helps to feel safer, less stressed and less anxious. We can support each other to get through this. There are still lots of ways we can connect.
  • Acknowledge your feelings: It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, worried or scared in the current situation. Allow yourself time to notice and express what you’re feeling. This could be by writing thoughts and feelings down in a journal, talking to others, doing something creative or practising meditation. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you’re feeling. Reach out to others.
  • Stick to routines where you can:  Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, eat at regular times, shower, change your clothes, have regular e-meetings with colleagues or virtual coffee dates with friends and do your chores. Meditating and exercising can help you relax and have a positive impact on your thoughts. Try not to increase unhealthy habits like comfort eating, drinking, smoking or vaping.
  • Contact others who might need help: Reaching out to those who may be feeling alone or concerned can benefit both you and the person receiving support.
  • Be selective in what you watch and read: You may find it useful to limit your media intake. Get the facts from www.covid19.govt.nz(external link) to help distinguish facts from rumours. Seek information updates at specific times once or twice a day only.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek professional support: For support with anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, call or text 1737 to talk with a trained counsellor for free, 24/7.

If you’re already undergoing treatment or therapy and notice that your symptoms are getting worse, talk to your GP, counsellor, caseworker or mental health team about how they can continue supporting you.

Here's what we all need to do during Alert Level 4:

  • Stay at home as much as you can.
  • If you do venture beyond home, stay in your neighbourhood and stay in your bubble.
  • Keep a 2-metre distance from people who are not part of your bubble.
  • Only drive to get essential supplies, such as groceries or visiting the pharmacy.
  • Help our emergency services by only doing safe activities.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap.