By staying at home, you’re doing a great thing to protect the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders. But for many of us, the spread of coronavirus and its impact on our health, loved ones, country, economy and community is consuming. We’ve gone from having a comfortable routine, to having to deal with the unique implications that come with a global pandemic.
It’s important we try to maintain our mental health and wellbeing during these trying times – and here at Engineering New Zealand, we’re going to do our best to help our members do this.
Here are some tips you might find helpful.
Remote working means all time spent commuting is cut, there are no workplace distractions, and no one is around to keep us to account – all factors that can cause us to feel pressure to be more productive. However, this probably won't be the case. What we're going through is a major transition and shock to the system – don’t underestimate the emotional load that this might bring.
Settling into remote work and isolation will take a bit of adapting, so we need to be realistic in what we expect of ourselves. Difficulty concentrating, low motivation and a state of distraction are to be expected. But there are great resources available to help us deal with the difficulties we experience.
Try to manage your stress threshold
It’s important to lay a solid foundation for mental health and wellbeing daily. Make sure you:
- Eat nutritious meals
- Make a conscious effort to connect with others
- Maintain good sleep hygiene (by keeping your routine of sleep and wake times)
By being told to stay home, it's likely activity levels will decrease – but try and make exercise a priority. It helps lower your stress levels, helps us to better regulate our emotions and improve your sleep.
Keep in routine and find joy
Routine can be a great help with managing anxiety. It can also help us figure out how to navigate this new virtual world – both physically and mentally. Make a good workday routine, then during your lunch breaks, after work, and in the weekend – find something to do that will bring you joy. Embrace the small things in life. Get excited about your daily walk, look forward to dinner, appreciate baking with your kids, really enjoy downtime watching your favourite TV series. Take pleasure in the small things and find joy in each day.
At the moment, a lot is out of our control. So it's important to be compassionate to yourself. Try and practice positive self-talk, as no doubt, there will be overwhelming moments where consuming thoughts like “it's too much,” or “I can't do it” take over. Be compassionate to yourself. It's wildly unrealistic that we'll be the best versions of ourselves throughout this. Ask for help when you need it.
It's equally important to show compassion to others, whether that be your colleagues or team members who may not be 'performing', or your kids, who are struggling to stay focused on home-school work. This situation isn't easy for any of us. Show compassion and try and figure out a way to help.
Keep in touch
We may be in social isolation, but this doesn’t mean we need to feel alone. One of the fortunate is that we have the power of the internet. Stay connected and reach out to those in your life who could be particularly isolated. A simple act like a phone call or text to someone can be a massive help.
We’re all human and need a sense of connection. It's good for our mental as well as our physical health. Virtual forums, which for many of us are now a regular part of our working day, are a great way to stay connected. Teams are doing things like virtual online drinks, which is a great way to keep some normality and keep up the positivity.
If you were receiving help for your mental health prior to Covid-19, continue this. The New Zealand Mental Health Foundation also have free counsellors available to help anyone who needs to talk during this time.
Manage uncertainty by staying in the present
Take each day as it comes and focus on the things you can control. Stay in the present. Take a break from scanning online news outlets and reading worrisome articles. This might even be a good time to start practising mindfulness and meditation – both great ways to help keep level-headed throughout these extraordinary times.
Where to get help
Need to talk? 1737 Free call or text 24/7
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
Samaritans: 0800 726 666
If it is an emergency and you feel you or someone else is at risk, call 111