We are a team of five million and it’s hard to hear the news about community transmission and levels of lockdown being implemented across Aotearoa. Although this has been a bit of a shock, there are plans in place for this happening and action is being taken to keep us safe.

Alert level changes

To everyone in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland we send aroha from afar as you go into Alert Level 3. For the rest of us supporting the team, we’ll do what we can to get through this. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again. We’ve got this!

More information on Alert Levels

Take small steps to protect your mental wellbeing

As we go through this change you may notice lots of thoughts and emotions arising. This is normal and it’s a good time to remember that unprecedented times can bring up frustrations, fear and even anger.

Allow yourself to feel these feelings and thoughts but hold them lightly. Be kind to yourself and others and offer support to people that might be feeling vulnerable with these changes. The following tips might help you manage the uncertainty and, remember, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed.

Stay informed

Make sure you know what you are required to do as the Alert Levels change. But also remember that constantly checking media reports can make you feel exhausted and may increase your distress. It’s important to try and stay calm and disconnect with relaxing activities – especially if you have children.

Block unhelpful media

Stick to reliable sources of information. At this time think about blocking negative media that can pull you down.

Keep to your usual routines

As much as possible stick to your usual routines. Even if you’re in isolation at home, stick to your usual mealtimes, exercise routines and bedtimes as that structure can help keep you grounded and calm. If you have the time, write yourself a to-do list for each day so you have something to achieve.

Concentrate on what you can control

There’s a lot you can’t fully control right now but there’s also a lot you can. For a start, concentrate on minimising your chances of contracting the virus.

  • Keep your distance from other people when you’re out in public (ideally two metres).
  • Wear a mask in public if you cannot stay two metres away from other people or taking public transport
  • Take extra care with hygiene practices. Wash your hands before and after you leave home. Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Avoid touching surfaces. Find ways of reminding yourself about this, like holding your hands together.
  • Regularly disinfect any surfaces that you touch often, such as keys, handrails and phones.
  • Avoid passing around your mobile phone to other people.

Reach out

It's a tough time and talking to someone can really help. Reach out to whanau and friends for support, share how you are feeling and what you’re experiencing. Staying connected is good for all of us and can help us with planning for practical needs and having support if lockdown continues.

If you continue to feel stressed please contact your GP and call Healthline for advice 0800 358 5453.

If you need to talk with a trained counsellor, free call/text 1737 to chat.

Amplify the awesome

We don’t want to downplay the current situation and how you feel, but gratitude is known to help you to be positive and lessen anxiety. Think about what you are grateful for, even if you’re in a bad place. We all have at least one small thing we can appreciate, whether it’s positive people, stories or images these can help change the way we’re thinking about the distress we might be facing.

Feel grounded

Practice ‘grounding techniques’ like feeling the earth beneath your feet, the experience of deep breathing, the taste of water. Being mindful and present can stop excessive worry. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, use grounding techniques to reconnect you to the present and calm down. Use your body to stretch, your faith to connect with your spiritual wellbeing, and take notice of nature as inspiration.

Be compassionate

Feelings of frustration and isolation can make us act outside the norm. If someone is being angry or mean don’t take it personally. Give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t escalate tensions. Lead by example, demonstrating calm, understanding and empathy. We all need a little bit of kindness to get through this.

Avoiding prejudice

This virus is not discriminatory, it can affect anyone, so don’t treat people differently because of their background, location, or other characteristics. There are a lot of unknowns, which creates anxiety and fear and it is entirely normal to associate our fears with ‘others’. However, this can translate into dangerous stereotypes. If people fear they will be mistreated, they may hide their illness and not seek help. Practice physical distancing but do not assume risk based on arbitrary factors.

Key resources

There are organisations and people who can help

Many organisations and people in your community realise it’s a difficult time right now. Check out the list of contacts:

  • If you are feeling anxious or just need someone to talk to callor text 1737
  • If you need to discuss your entitlements, phone the Ministry of Social Development Senior Services line 0800 552 002
  • Concerned your symptoms may be COVID-19? Call the COVID-19 Healthline: 0800 358 5453
  • For general health issues, phone your doctor.
  • For emergencies dial 111.
  • If you are unable to find what you need online, and you’re not sure who to contact for help, call the free government helpline on 0800 779 997or on 0800 22 66 57(8am to 1am, seven days a week).