Wellbeing and COVID-19
Today we are four days into our national month long lock down aimed at reducing the rate of COVID-19 infection rates. Some of us are trying to work from our homes, provide home schooling for our children and exploring the options for buying food. Some of us are essential workers and driving on traffic free Auckland roads for the first time in years. Many of us are worried about our finances and how to make ends meet and for others there are additional concerns of job losses in some industries.
Almost all of us suddenly find ourselves worried about the pandemic. We may be especially concerned for those that we love who are elderly or those who have underlying health conditions. We are worried about those in our lives who live elsewhere and we can't see with our own eyes that they are 'ok'. New Zealander's are now contained inside homes that feel as if they are decreasing in size each day as boredom and irritation with our bubble families flare. What can we do about this?
The government advises that all of the information about COVID-19 should come from one website - covid19.govt.nz There is a lot of mis-information circulating on Face Book, through Whats App and by word-of-mouth. For up to date, accurate information please go to the recommended website.
Everyone who is physically able should get some fresh air each day. Take a walk in your neighbourhood with or without your bubble family - just stay two meters away from anyone who is not in your bubble. If you can't physically get outside then sit at the door or open a window to let the fresh air through your home. Take some deep breaths as that will help you to relax.
If you feel unwell with any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (coughing, sneezing, high temperature, runny nose or shortness of breath) follow the instructions from the website and phone a healthcare professional for advice. Do not go to your GP, hospital or acute care centre. If you do have the virus, by going to these places you are pacing others, especially the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, at risk. Phone your GP. If you do not have a GP you can call Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453. Follow the advice you are given. If you need to be tested or if you need more management of your symptoms, the GP or healthline staff will advise.
It is critically important that you follow the advice to phone for help as a first step. If anyone is in need of emergency care make sure to tell staff about any possible COVID-19 symptoms. This means staff can manage the situation in the safest way possible for the affected person and everyone else.
Be kind. Kind to yourself as well as others. Everyone's routines have gone. Children can't go and play with their friends or go to the park at this time. People who have worked all their life are suddenly finding they don't have anything to keep their hands or mind busy. The COVID-19 website has some great ideas about maintaining your wellbeing and that of your family or whānau. It is normal to feel more anxious at this time and for many that will settle as these routines become our 'new normal'.
The COVID-19 website also has advice on who to talk to if you find that anxiety, grief or mental wellbeing are causing distress. You can call or text 1737 to speak to a trained counsellor. Counsellors are available for free, at any time 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you live in Auckland or Waitemata District Health Board areas and need to speak with someone to help with your distress, you can also contact the Awhi Ora service.
All of the current advice and practices are aimed at saving lives. It is hard, it feels like a month will be a very long time however we are all in this together. Everyone needs to do this as we try to eradicate COVID-19. Some communities are putting teddy bears in their windows so children (and those young at heart) can go on a bear hunt on their walk. Other communities are banding together to make sure the elderly and isolated have access to food or are making phone calls to make sure they are not feeling too lonely. There have been extraordinary acts of kindness across New Zealand and across the world in response to this pandemic.
Stay safe, stay home, keep washing your hands and following the advice on the website. Hopefully the end of April will see us all emerging from our bubbles feeling relieved and having been kind to ourselves and to others.