Self-care for overcoming anxiety

Keeping in touch with friends and finding leisure activities will help with mental health during the four week lockdown.

The Ministry of Health recommends that people reach out digitally to family and friends to talk about their feelings during this period of self-isolation.

“It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, worried or scared in the current situation. Allow yourself time to notice and express what you are feeling.”

For those who feel they are not coping, the 1737 phone line is a 24-hour free resource where callers can talk to a trained counsellor for support with anxiety or distress.

Counsellors are working from home and are still available to talk to callers during the lockdown.

The Ministry’s guidelines recommend sticking to a regular routine during isolation including have regular mealtimes, bed times and exercising.

“Try not to spend all day in bed or on the couch. Getting some exercise helps your mind and body to release tension and stress and gives you the energy and good feelings you need to get through.

“Find ways to move your body and your mood every day. Remember, you can go outside, but you need to limit your contact with others.”

Warkworth counsellor Kerry Hamlet says residents at home need to trust in their capability to cope.

“Say to yourself, ‘I can get through this,’ and then visualise yourself coping, and see the successful outcome,” she says.

“Be self-compassionate. We may not be hugging others right now, but we can certainly hug ourselves.”

Kerry says changing the way we talk about the lockdown can help to ease anxiety about it.

“Choosing more helpful statements such as ‘physical distancing’ rather than ‘social isolation’ can help your mind-set.”

Kerry says four weeks is an opportunity to focus on the positive aspects of life.

“Engage in hobbies, gardening, baking, reading unfinished books, listening to lots of music and looking through photos.”

Another tip for coping with anxiety is to start journaling by recording thoughts, feelings and aspirations.

“This can help put things in perspective and release some ruminating thoughts.”

For those really feeling the pinch, Kerry recommends therapeutic breathing for five minutes to help with mood management.

“Breath in through the nose slowly until you have filled the abdomen, and then slowly breath all the way out.”

1737 is New Zealand’s national mental health helpline number. The number is free to text or call anytime to talk with a trained counsellor. When someone texts or calls 1737 a counsellor will work with the person to develop a care plan. This could include referral to another service, additional counselling or provision of information and support.

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