He waka eke noa – we’re all in this together. Even when you're isolating you can still be in touch by text, social media, phone calls and video calls. You can talk to your neighbours over the fence or on the street – just stay 2 metres away from them.
Reach out to your usual supports over the phone – family and whānau, friends and workmates. Be in touch more often with the people you care about. Make sure they’re doing okay and that will help you too.
Get creative: arrange a morning cup of tea time with your elderly parent while you chat on the phone or read a book to your grandchild over a video call. You can also have an end of day social message chat with a friend each night and a video conference get together on Friday night with all your mates.
Breathe and be present
Knowing how to use your breathing to calm your nervous system is a key tool in your wellbeing kit. Taking a long, slow breath in, holding it for a few seconds and then slowly, slowly breathing out really makes a difference. Try the breathing exercises at Hikitia Te Hā All Right?(external link)
Being mindful helps you focus on yourself and reduces the build-up of tension, stress and anxiety. The more you practise being mindful, the more you benefit from it.
Check out the resources, including a daily practice, as well as videos and apps to get you started, in our mindfulness page.
While you are isolating, reach out to your GP if you are feeling unwell and your mental health is getting worse. They will be able to assist you, and there are other mental health support services you can contact. We also have a list of mental health and wellbeing apps.
Avoid news overload
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. Even better, try a week without reading the news. You may be surprised how much better you feel not viewing all the negative messages and how much time you save.
Reduce screen time
The internet can be a lifeline when you are isolating with COVID: many people with mild symptoms, or those isolating with others in the whare can continue to work at home and earn a living. You can find information about the COVID-19 situation and access help or support through it.
And of course, you can entertain yourself with streamed moves, gaming, YouTube videos and much more. But you can have too much of a good thing!
Researchers have found that the amount of screen time can predict the depression level among adults. For children and adolescents, more hours of daily screen time were associated with lower psychological well-being, and teenagers who are high users are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
Take regular breaks from the screen and help others in your household do so as well: Try a card game, make something, bake something, fix something, organise something, clean something – anything that gets you moving and gets you off the screen.
Avoid alcohol and drug use
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink or don’t drink alcohol at all. Avoid using alcohol and drugs as a way of dealing with fear, anxiety, boredom and loneliness or social isolation. It will make things worse, not better.
There is no evidence of any protective effect of drinking alcohol for viral or other infections. In fact, the opposite is true as the harmful use of alcohol is associated with increased risk of infections and worse treatment outcomes.
Find the lighter moments
No-one’s denying isolation and dealing with COVID (either you or your loved ones) is stressful, but even in times like this there are still moments that can uplift us.
Make a point of doing something that you find enjoyable and heart-lifting:
- Re-read a favourite book or watch a favourite movie.
- Korero about your family history.
- Chat to a friend.
- Find something beautiful in nature each day in your garden, or out your window.
- Bring a flower inside.
- Listen to music – choose something that will uplift you if you’re feeling a bit low or bored, or pick something calming if you’re starting to feel anxious.
- Give your other senses some stimulation too – stroke a pet, notice smells on your walk or in your garden. Have variety in your meals, including some that really stimulate your taste buds.
Seek spiritual comfort
Enhance your wairua by turning to your cultural or spiritual practices that connect you to a sense of purpose and meaning. It may be accepting care from the others around you, or pets or the environment you're in. It may be a formal practice, such as meditation or prayer. You may need to find online services to replace your usual community gatherings. And remember, you are showing manaakitanga by taking care of people by staying away from them!
Accept the situation
If you're COVID-positive, understand that you have 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. Read more about long COVID.
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 and stay away from others to keep them safe.
- Wash your hands often.
- Cough or sneeze into your sleeve so you don't spread the virus (or other bugs).
- Wear a face mask when you are around other people.
Knowing what you can control and what you can’t control helps to cope through times like this. Focusing on what you can do in a challenging situation helps to make you stronger.