Taking Care of Your Mental Health & Wellbeing During COVID-19

Staying at home more than you usually would, you may find it more difficult than normal to look after your mental health and wellbeing.

So we have put together some ideas that maybe able to help:

  • Make plans to video chat with people or groups you’d normally see in person.
  • You can also arrange phone calls or send instant messages or texts.
  • If you’re worried that you might run out of stuff to talk about, make a plan with someone to watch a show or read a book separately so that you can discuss it when you contact each other.
  • Think of other ways to keep in contact with people while meeting in person is not possible. For example, you could check your phone numbers are up to date, or that you have current email addresses for friends you've not seen for a while.
  • Connect with others in similar situations. Speak with someone you trust. If you are feeling anxious about COVID 19 or staying at home more than usual, you may find it helpful to talk about these worries with someone you trust, especially if they are in a similar situation.
  • If you're going online more than usual or seeking peer support on the internet, it's important to look after your online wellbeing.
  • If you're worried about loneliness, think about things you can do to connect with people. For example, putting extra pictures up of the people you care about might be a nice reminder of the people in your life.
  • Listen to a chatty radio station or podcast if your home feels too quiet.
  • Plan how you’ll spend your time during the day. It may be helpful to write this down on paper and put it on your wall.
  • Try to follow your normal routine as much as possible. Get up at the same time, follow your usual morning routines, eat when you usually would, stick to an exercise routine and go to bed at your usual time,
  • If you haven’t been happy with your usual routine, this might be an opportunity to change things up a bit. For example, you could go to bed earlier and get up earlier spend time learning a new skill…there’s lots of fab tutorials on YouTube from cooking, making video’s, learning a language to DIY.
  • Think about how you’ll spend time by yourself at home. For example, plan activities to do on different days or habits you want to start or keep up.

If you live with other people, it may help to do the following:

  • Agree on a household routine. Try to give everyone you live with a say in this agreement.
  • Try to respect each other's privacy and give each other space. For example, some people might want to discuss everything they’re doing while others won’t.

Keeping active is good for your mental wellbeing, so where possible, incorporate activity into your daily routine. While we don’t have access to exercise equipment like treadmills at home, there are things we can do.

  • Les Mills and TVNZ have partnered to do daily exercise classes at 9 am
  • cleaning your home
  • dancing to music
  • going up and down stairs
  • seated exercises
  • online exercise workouts that you can follow
  • sitting less – if you notice you’ve been sitting down for an hour, just getting up or changing position can help.

Getting out in the sun amongst nature and fresh air can benefit your mental and physical health. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make you feel more relaxed.

You can get the positive effects of nature while self-isolating and in lockdown.

  • Schedule a time to get outside everyday for a walk or a bike ride if you can.
  • Spend time with the windows open to let in fresh air. 
  • Arrange a comfortable seat near a window where you can look out over a view.
  • Look at photos of your favourite places in nature, such as the ocean or mountains and have them as screensavers on your devices.
  • Listen to the sounds of nature on apps that play birdsong, ocean waves or rainfall. 
  • Get as much natural light as you can. 
  • Spend time in your garden if you have one, or open your front or back door and sit on the doorstep.
  • When out for your walk or in the garden, collect natural materials to decorate your living space, or use in art projects. 
  • Have a spring clean or clear out
  • Have a digital clear out, such as deleting and sorting old files and apps you don’t use, upgrade your software, passwords or clear out your inboxes.
  • Catch up with people you haven’t been in contact with for a while by writing letters, emails, or making phone calls and video chats.

Making time to relax and taking the opportunity to get creative may help. 

Some ideas are:

  • Get out the art supplies and start drawing, painting, sewing, knitting or do a bit of upcycling
  • Do some DIY or learn a new DIY skill by watching YouTube tutorials 
  • Colouring in books and jigsaw puzzles are great
  • Practice mindfulness. There are great apps to follow for this.
  • Play your musical instrument, write songs, or simply listen to music you enjoy.
  • Start writing
  • Practice yoga and meditation – there are great online classes to follow.

It’s important to keep your brain active and stimulated. Some ideas for this are:

  • Get caught up on those books you haven’t had a chance to read.
  • Tune into a new podcast or Netflix series.
  • Engage in new puzzles, there are lots available online, from scrabble, chess, suduko and brain teasers. 
  • Sign up for a free online course to upskill.
  • There are lots of apps that can help you learn things, such as a foreign language or other new skills.

Stay connected with current events, but be careful where you get news and health information from. For current facts and updates visit the government COVID-19 website here.

  • If news stories make you feel anxious or confused, think about switching off or limiting what you look at for a while.
  • Social media could help you stay in touch with people, but might also make you feel anxious as a result of the constant stream of COVID-19 news stories. Consider taking a break or limiting how you use social media. You might decide to view particular groups or pages but not scroll through timelines or newsfeeds.

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy have put together this great resource to help if you are feeling anxious. Click here.