For many of us, COVID-19 is causing a lot of stress and money problems. Problems that can be hard to talk about let alone deal with.
If you’re finding it tough, keep reading for some handy tips on how to help get through it all, and spot the signs that your stress might be getting the better of you.
COVID-19 and our economy
Our economy’s been hit hard by COVID-19 and like thousands of others you might be feeling the impact of it. You might be facing redundancy, a pay cut, reduced work hours, increased living costs, or you might be finding it super hard to find a new job. If any of this is happening to you, it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault, you’re not alone, and it’s totally normal to feel stressed out.
Start by taking care of yourself
- Talk about your problems and ask for help. We all know it can be hard to ask for help, but remember that in tough times it’s normal to feel worried so don’t keep those worries to yourself. Talk to someone you can trust and ask for help whenever you need it.
- Remember, your true value and worth is not determined by your job or how much money you have. Your true value is who you are and what you mean to those close to you.
- Make a plan. A plan can boost your confidence and help you feel more in control. This plan could include where and how you’ll look for new work, making a budget, and deciding on who to talk to if things get tough.
- If your parent or caregiver has lost their job it could be making you feel upset and stressed too. That’s totally normal. For tips on coping with stress and anxiety check out The Lowdown.
- Remember - people’s self worth can take a huge hit when they are put out of work. Remind them just how important they are to you and that losing their job doesn’t change that. Support them as much as you can.
- Maintaining healthy relationships is important for our mental wellbeing. Keep in touch – whether it's with people you normally see or reconnecting with old friends.
- It's times like this that we all lean on one another. If you're feeling distressed, talk to someone you trust. They will want to know and they will want to support you.
- Talking to people who’ve been there can be a big help for finding ideas for how to cope.
- Networking is important at this time. You’ve heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. When we’re at alert level 1, make a point of going out socially and/or contacting a range of people who might know about jobs going. When we’re at alert level 2, 3 or 4, network while following alert level and social distancing rules. Try reaching out to people you already know online, get in touch with a recruiter to help you on your job hunt, or by thinking up new and creative ways to network safely.
Be physically active
- Our physical health has a big impact on how we feel. Try not to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that make you feel worse. Try getting some exercise each day. It's good for your wellbeing and keeps your body strong too.
Keep to a routine or start a new one
- Establish a routine that’s similar to your normal day.
- Get up at a reasonable time of the day. Have your juice, coffee and/or breakfast outside in the sun.
- Schedule some time for job searching online and making applications.
- Schedule activities in blocks of time and keep your room, or your house and car tidy.
Learn something new
- This is a good time to follow up on something that’s been on the back burner for a while. For example, you could like learn some basic reo, how to maintain on your car, or how to play a musical instrument.
Notice the little things that bring you joy
- Make a list of three things that bring you pleasure and do one of them each day. For example take a minute to watch a bird in a tree, walk on the beach barefoot in the sand, or go for a walk in the rain.
Look after your mental health
What if it all becomes too much? Sometimes it’s hard to know if what you’re feeling is normal or if you might be experiencing depression or anxiety. You can take a self-test on depression and anxiety to help figure out what’s happening to you.
By getting help early you might stop your financial stress becoming mental distress. And, if you feel like you’re not coping well, it’s important to have a chat to your doctor or nurse or someone that’s close to you.
For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24/7 – to talk with a trained counsellor.
Looking for work
If you’ve lost your job, one of the main things on your mind will be finding another one. While some of us might find a job quickly, for others it could take longer as there’s a lot more competition out there. Keep at it and make sure you have someone you can talk to if you start feeling stuck or let down.
Careers NZ has some great information to help with job hunting and CV writing.
When money’s tight, sorting your finances out and planning a budget can feel a bit scary. But making a plan and sticking to it can give you something to be in control of.
Seeking financial help for the first time can be a little bit daunting too. But, luckily we live in a country that has financial support available to help you and your whānau through the tough times.
If you’re visiting an agency or organisation like Work and Income for help, you can take a support person with you. It’s also a good idea to be prepared, check what your rights are, and what assistance you might be entitled to. Have a think about how you’ll explain what you need.
Help is available
- It can be very stressful if you've lost your job, are facing a drop in income, or are behind in your rent. There is help and support available. Reach out now.
- ‘Check what you can get’ helps you find out what benefits and payments may be available to you
Money Talks gives free and confidential budgeting advice. They have phone help, live chat, email and text and can link you with a local service.
- Call the free financial advice Money Talks helpline on 0800 345 123.
- You can find your local budgeting advice service here.
- Connected.govt.nz is a great website created specifically to help with getting back into work or training after a COVID-19 job loss.
- depression.org.nz/moneyworries has helpful tips and advice about looking after your wellbeing at times of financial stress.
- Budget advice is available at fincap.org.nz.
Tips from those who know
Zack and Clementine both lost their jobs because of COVID-19. They share their thoughts and advice in the videos below.
Look after your mental health
What if it all becomes too much? Sometimes it’s hard to know if what you’re feeling is normal or if you might be experiencing depression or anxiety. You can take a self-test on depression and anxiety to help figure out what’s happening to you:
By getting help early you might stop your financial stress becoming mental distress. And, if you feel like you’re not coping well, it’s important to have a chat to your doctor or nurse or someone that’s close to you. For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24/7 – to talk with a trained counsellor.
More free information, support and apps
Getting Through Together
- You can find tips and advice on how to cope with the stress of COVID-19 in the Getting Through Together toolkit, developed by All Right? in partnership with the Canterbury DHB and the Mental Health Foundation: Getting Through Together.
- The Mentemia app provides practical tips and techniques to help you take control of your mental wellbeing. It was created by All Blacks legend and mental health advocate Sir John Kirwan, tech entrepreneur Adam Clark, and an expert team of medical advisors.
- The Melon app provides a health journal, resources and self-awareness tools to help you manage your emotional wellbeing. Melon also provides an online community for New Zealanders to connect and support each other, and daily webinars for health and wellbeing.
Staying on Track
- The Staying on Track online course teaches practical strategies to cope with the stress and disruption to everyday life from COVID-19.
Unite against Covid-19 is the New Zealand Government’s website dedicated to Aotearoa-New Zealand’s COVID-19 response. This is your single source of information about COVID-19.
Anxiety New Zealand Trust has helped thousands of children, adolescents and adults in Aotearoa-New Zealand to build their resilience and recover from anxiety, depression, OCD and phobias.
Mental Health Foundation leads campaigns and services that cover all aspects of mental health and wellbeing. They provide free information and training, and advocate for policies and services that support people with experience of mental illness, and also their families, whānau and friends.
- Unite against COVID-19 – financial support.
- Unite against COVID-19 – employment support. Tips on finding a job and careers advice.
- Work and Income New Zealand - Information for people who have been affected by COVID-19.
The New Zealand Government’s Sorted website has a huge amount of information about money and finances
- Tackling debt and knowing your rights.
- COVID-19 and your money – seven things you can do right now.
- A tool to help you with your budgeting.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau also has lots of useful information.
- The Ministry of Health’s website has some useful suggestions about mental health services.