Getting Through Together / Wellbeing for parents and whānau / How do I look after my own hauora and wellbeing?

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This is a time of increased pressure and stress for all of us. It is a time where things might feel they are constantly changing and there is uncertainty about how things will go in the coming weeks and months.

People will be experiencing a wide range of thoughts and feelings, including stress and worry about whānau and friends, continuing to work from home or returning to the workplace. Some will still have uncertainty about their employment or have lost their job because of the pandemic. Financial hardship and uncertainty about the future is a reality for many right now.

Being a parent or carer of tamariki will, at times, add extra stress and pressure. Some parents will still have limited access to their usual support networks (like neighbours, other families or grandparents).

Now that schools and early childhood learning centres have re-opened, parents and carers of tamariki as well as tamariki themselves will be feeling a range of emotions about this change.  Check out the section of tamariki returning to kura/school. 

Allow yourself to acknowledge and accept this has been and continues to be an exceptional situation and that it can feel really tough.

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Once you can acknowledge this is a challenging time, cut yourself some slack. You are not going to be the perfect parent, carer, or employee during these changing and uncertain times.

Parents may have a strong sense of guilt or sense of failure about not being the kind of parent or partner that you would like to be right now. 

You may feel frustrated, angry or disappointed in yourself. Recognise these feelings and try to respond to them with compassion - just like you would if a friend was feeling this way. 

Remember: being a good enough parent is good enough.

Life has changed from what we knew it to be before. What we may have seen as important or prioritised in our lives before may need to change.

Think about what you and your whānau really need right now. What’s most important is keeping your whānau and tamariki as safe and supported as you can. Perhaps taking extra time reading to your tamariki or talking with your teenager, is more of a priority than have a tidy house for example.

Try to find a few minutes on your own each day. Sit quietly and take some deep breaths, step outside and take notice of the environment, have a cup of tea or a hot shower. Although it may seem hard, if we can create some space in the day for ourselves we are more likely to have the emotional energy to be there for our tamariki.

If you have younger tamariki, try to use the times when they are napping or having screen time to do something you enjoy.

If you have older children, can you step outside on your own for 10 minutes or go for a walk?

Don’t be tempted to catch up on chores and work at every spare opportunity – take that time instead to prioritise yourself and your wellbeing

Now we can expand our mirumiru/bubble we can connect in person with more whānau and friends. Remember we can also continue to connect with people via technology. 

Using social media, like Facebook or Instagram, is not the same as connecting with people you know though phone or video calls. Although it’s great we have technology to connect in this way, it’s okay to switch it off too. Remember social media often depicts unrealistic views of people’s lives and if you find it’s getting you down disengage with it for a while.

If you are working from home or have returned to your place of work, you may be already having a lot of contact with colleagues. If it all feels a bit too much, give yourself permission to have a break. Connecting with others is important for our wellbeing but it’s okay if you feel like you need some “you” time as well.

Try to get some physical activity everyday. If you can, go outside for a walk around your local neighbourhood. Now restrictions have been lifted perhaps you can reconnect with the beach or bush. If that’s too difficult, do some stretches, yoga, kapa haka or kanikani/dance around the house to your favourite tunes. Physical activity really helps to boost our wellbeing.

If you feel like you are struggling, it is important to reach out for extra support. Contact a trusted whānau member or friend to talk through how you are feeling and ask for practical help if you need it, such as help getting food or medication. You will be doing them a favour by letting them help and making them feel trusted. Everyone needs help sometimes. You can also contact the following free and confidential helplines.

Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor 

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

For more ideas and tips to support your hauora check out the following