Finding time for mental health

With lockdowns widespread across New Zealand, this means an increased pressure and stress for all Kiwis. Despite having gone through this last year, it is important to remember that these continual changes are affecting how we work, how we communicate and what we can or can’t do. It is common to be experiencing feelings of isolation, loneliness or disconnect from others – socially and professional, inability to switch off from work, difficulty staying motivated, worry about money now and in the future, anxiousness about what’s next and have sleep problems.

It is imperative we prioritise our mental wellbeing and keep on top of how we’re feeling to help manage stress and anxiety.

Some of our top tips to managing our mental health during this time:

Set up a routine -

Routines may seem dull, but they’re good for our mental health, especially when our usual routines have now got to be adapted to lockdown. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, eat at regular times, shower, change your clothes, have regular virtual catch ups with colleagues or virtual coffee dates with friends, do household chores. This will help you to manage your days and adjust when life starts to go back to normal.

Create boundaries between work time and home time –

Set a routine as if you are going into the office, with a regular start time, and finish time, and a structure for your day, with breaks and exercise scheduled in. Studies show that working from home can interfere with sleep, especially for people who find it difficult to switch off from work, so separate your ‘office’ from your bedroom, that way you’re separating your sleep space, to work space. This will help you maintain a strong boundary between work and home life, minimise the possibility of work intruding into your family time, and help you switch off from work at the end of the day.

Stay connected –

Connecting with others is so important for our wellbeing and helps to make us feel safer, less stressed and less anxious. We can support each other to get through this. Through weekly catch ups on zoom with work colleagues, calling a friend, doing an online quiz night with friends, Facetiming loved ones.

Mercer’s team is also here if you need to talk about your investment.

Spend some time outside -

If you’re not in self-isolation, try to get outside at least once a day. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, and sunshine. If you are in isolation, go out to your garden or walk up and down your driveway or go out onto your balcony and enjoy fresh air.

Find ways to keep active –

We know this is a tricky one without gyms or sports but it can be done! Play ‘the floor is lava’ with the kids, do a free yoga class online, try out a new workout on YouTube, go for walks or runs outside (just stay 2m away from others!), use the cans in the pantry as weights, stretch.

Find ways to relax –

Technology makes it easier to stay connected 24-7, but the downside is that it can make it difficult to switch off and relax. Different ways we can reenergise our minds and bodies can be through; lighting a scented candle, switching off with a good book, playing a video game, reading a book, getting creative and making some art, try mindful colouring, journaling, watching movies or baking. Do things you enjoy and that can take up time of your day without you even realising it.

If you’re currently getting help with your mental health, continue with this if possible -

Talk to your GP, counsellor, case worker or mental health team about how they can continue supporting you. See if your appointments take place over the phone, via email, or video chat. Write down a plan of who of your friends/loved ones you can call if you’re struggling and keep a list of the mental health support lines handy if you need extra support.

Here is a list of helpful helplines or online resources if you need it

8 September 2021