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Eight ways to stay positive during the Covid-19 crisis
1. Give yourself a break from the news
Watching or reading the news non-stop could have a negative effect on your mood. Take a break from what’s going on in New Zealand by checking the news just once a day, preferably in the morning so that it won’t interfere with your sleep.
2. Rekindle an interest that you haven’t pursued for a while
Did you used to be a knitter, painter, wood turner, sewer, writer, photographer or musician? Now’s a great time to rekindle a forgotten interest. Find your kit, tools or instrument and get started. There’s a wealth of ‘how to’ videos on You Tube to help you brush up your skills. Positive mental health is a wonderful side effect of getting stuck into a creative project.
3. Phone or write to a friend
There’s nothing like human contact to perk you up when you’re feeling out of sorts. Pick up your phone and call a friend or family member. They’re in the same situation as you, so will probably be very happy to get a call. Or, if you have some postage stamps, take the old school approach and write a long letter to someone you haven’t heard from in ages. NZ Post is still operating.
4. Organise a video get together on Zoom
The wonders of modern technology can bring people into your home virtually. One of the best apps for this is Zoom, which can be downloaded onto your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. The Zoom Help Centre is full of resources to get you started, or you can just wing it and learn as you go.
5. Read a funny book
When did you last laugh so much your belly hurt? Laughter is a powerful way to improve mental health. It can lower stress levels, improve your heart health, decrease pain, reduce blood pressure, boost your immune system and burn calories. It’s like a superfood for your soul. There are plenty of funny TV series and films on streaming services and DVD, but we also recommend books. If you have a Kindle or e-reader, look for titles on Readers Digest list of 25 funniest books of all time. The Guardian also has a good list and there’s a massive list of funny books on Goodreads.
6. Learn to meditate
Meditation sounds like it might be complicated, but actually it’s very simple. And it’s really good for your brain. Studies show that meditators have better-preserved brains as they age; meditation also helps to calm the ‘monkey mind’ (a mind that’s unsettled, restless or confused), which is associated with anxiety. The easiest way to meditate is to:
- Set an alarm on your phone for about 10 minutes. Choose a gentle alarm sound, rather than something loud that might startle you.
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
- Focus on your breathing. In slowly, out slowly.
- As thoughts occur, acknowledge them, and then bring your focus back to breathing.
7. Get enough sleep
For maintaining your immune system and keeping a positive state of mind, it’s important to get enough sleep. If you wake up feeling tired, take a nap during the day to make up for it. Low mood depression and anxiety have been linked to poor sleep habits. Here are some tips for better sleep:
- Get plenty of natural light during the day to help your circadian rhythm (body clock) remain in balance.
- Avoid coffee and tea after midday. Find a herbal or fruit tea you like, as an alternative.
- Avoid watching TV or looking at your phone right before bed. Instead, read or listen to a book until you feel sleepy.
- To calm your mind when the lights go out, try ‘square breathing’ – breathe in for three counts, hold for three counts, out for three counts, hold for three counts, repeat until you fall asleep.
8. Get moving
Exercise is a great way to lift your mood when you’re feeling worried or down. There are many ways to get yourself moving in and around your home:
- During the Covid-19 lockdown you’re allowed to go for a walk in your neighbourhood; just remember to stay two metres away from other people.
- If you like biking, that’s OK too. But remember lockdown isn’t a time to take risks; if you haven’t biked for years, now is not the time to start. It’s also important to stay within your neighbourhood when you’re riding.
- Download an exercise app on your phone and use it for a daily workout. Check out ‘Senior Fitness – Home workout’, Yoga Exercises for Seniors and Daily Senior Fitness Exercises, just to mention a few.
- You Tube is full of senior workouts. Or check out this Healthline web page of simple strength-building exercises. See Arvida’s 30 Days of Moving Well challenge.
If you try all these things and you’re still finding it hard to adjust your mood back to positive, it might be time to talk to your GP about getting some help.
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