COVID-19: Staying mentally well

With the pandemic going on and on and the peak iminent, it is important to safeguard our mental health as well as the measures we take for our physical health. Depression and anxiety affect many people and should be managed by a Doctor, but there is more to good mental health than avoiding mental illness. Rather, it is about living in a way that is good for you and those around you.

With ideas from the Mental Health Foundation, our Pharmacists have put together 10 ideas you might like to try to promote wellbeing:

  1. Give your time, words and presence. Share a favourite recipe, a smile or help a neighbour by picking up some food or other essentials for them. Check in with family, can you help online with homework or simply have a chat.

  2. Be active – even if sports or classes are cancelled, try an online yoga or pilates instruction. Walk around the garden or set up an obstacle course for kids. Do some gardening or use the cans in the pantry as weights. Physical activity is great to increase self-belief, the ability to cope and boost endorphins. 

  3. Keep learning new skills to give yourself a sense of achievement and confidence. Cooking classes, mastering a musical instrument or figuring out how to fix something keeps you curious and achieving goals. Pick a question you’ve always wondered about and take some time to look it up. Call your parents or grandparents and ask them questions about life when they were growing up. Research your whakapapa or family tree. Look up stories, myths and legends from different cultures. 

  4. Find a sense of belonging in the world in places that nurture your soul. Give yourself permission to reflect on your feelings, thoughts, your body and the world around you. Notice the beauty in the world around your home. Take time to feel the sun on your skin, breathe in fresh air whenever you can, make a list of what you’re grateful for, take the time to thank someone for how they make you feel, do a mindfulness exercise. Think about how you can connect with nature from your home. 

  5. Connect with the people around you and spend time developing these relationships. Whether it be in person, on the phone or virtually, relationships are critical for mental wellbeing.

    Some ideas to connect include: writing emails that share a favourite memory, playing video games with mates, playing online scrabble or other board games, joining or starting a virtual book club, sharing a favourite karakia or waiata with your friends on social media, having video catch-ups with workmates, calling friends and whānau who are in self-isolation and reaching out to neighbours to ensure everyone has what they need to get through.

  6. Manage stress by keeping supportive daily routines, fitting in time to do things every day that make you happy. Learn to relax and take time out. Establish a pattern around bedtime to have a good night sleep too.

    To relax, try lighting a scented candle, switching off with a good book, playing a video game, having a silent disco, talking to a mate, watching videos online, reading a book, getting creative and making some art, try mindful colouring, journaling or watching movies. 

  7. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low GI carbohydrates. Include good protein for your body to make serotonin and add in omega 3, magnesium and iodine (from eggs, apples, brussel sprouts, walnuts, bananas, oats, pears, salmon, strawberries, oranges, spinach, sweet potatoes, milk, dark chocolate and turkey). Keep up your water intake.

  8. Keep taking your medication unless advised to by your doctor. Your doctor can email scripts through to the pharmacy and they can be collected or delivered to you. Best to give yourself a few days for this process to happen.

    If you are under mental health care, keep up with appointments where possible for your GP, counsellor, case worker or mental health team about how they can continue supporting you. 

  9. Have a routine - either your existing one or create a new one in a new situation. 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, do your chores. This will help you to manage your days and adjust when life starts to go back to normal.

  10. Limit the amount of news you follow - pick one source you trust (like the official COVID-19 website) and check it once per day. If you want to keep checking in with news coverage, take notice of how it makes you feel and set time limits or restrict your news sources to just one or two if you need to.



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