NZ Herald Column Kyle MacDonald

To read Kyle’s NZ Herald Columns click here…

It’s the virus which has sparked fear and disruption around the world. And New Zealand is not immune from this – we are now in a four-week lockdown to eliminate Covid-19.

So, how do we get through the coronavirus pandemic?

Kyle MacDonald is a psychotherapist and mental-health advocate and will answer your questions in a twice-weekly column.

If you have a question for MacDonald, please send it to: before 9am tomorrow.

I would like some advice on calming my pregnant nerves. I’m already struggling with controlling my emotions and with the lockdown, toddler inside, no money I can feel the anxiety rising! Tips?

Keep it simple. Make sure you’re accessing all the financial support you’re entitled to, as there is extra support available.

Set a simple schedule for the week.

Relax any standards you may have about things like screen time and focus on just getting through the day, or the next hour if you’re struggling.

Keep meals regular, have periods for rest, playtime. Depending on how old your child is use daily tasks as opportunities to get them involved (fold washing, basic cleaning etc).

And make sure, after your little one is asleep you take some time for yourself and ideally reach out to friends or family by phone, or video link. You will need some adult connection!The couple got married in their backyard before the Level 4 Government lockdown comes into effect on Wednesday night. Video / Supplied

I am now spending a huge amount of time sharing communal spaces in my house with the people who are in my social/family bubble. What are some tips for maintaining healthy relationships and avoiding extra conflict and stress?

Have a morning meeting with your bubble. It’s important to have a conversation and set up a plan and a schedule – each day if you need to.

Ask everyone what they need to do, and what they want to do for the day and make a plan to achieve it.

Ideally set aside zones for work so that you have some space. If you can’t manage that – or don’t have the space – make a room or even use the garage as an alone zone and set up a roster to each spend some time there.

When you’re in “alone time” you can use that time however you wish – uninterrupted.

Exercise time is also a good opportunity for space, don’t feel you have to do that together.

My 19-year-old daughter has depression and anxiety, and naturally this has ramped up in the face of the crisis. She is very open with her fears, but this is starting to rub off on her 10-year-old sister. I’m an essential worker so can’t be there to monitor their conversations – how can I explain to my elder daughter that she needs to be mindful of the effect her words and actions are having?

Make sure any conversation you have with Ms 19 start with validation – it’s understandable she’s feeling more anxious and encourage her to keep up whatever support she needs for that. She can call 1737 daily or more if she needs to.

It’s also okay to have a conversation with her about the need to “parent” Ms 10, which means having a plan to manage her exposure to fearful thoughts and ideas.

In general it’s a good idea to not let young people have too much exposure to the media at the moment, especially death counts and stories about rampant infection.

Make sure you balance this with Ms 19’s need for time to do what she needs to do to manage how she’s feeling.

A lot of my identity was wrapped up in my job and suddenly I don’t have one. Now stuck at home I’m struggling to even get out of bed. I’m worried how I’m going to get through the next four weeks or more with no real purpose. Any help?

Set up structure: structure is your friend. Make it realistic, so you can stick to it but whatever you do stick to it. This is your job now.

Get up at the same time Monday-Friday, and let yourself sleep in Saturday and Sunday.

Set up a regular call or chat with a friend every morning to help make yourself accountable. Engage in useful activities until at least lunchtime. Stick to regular meals, and exercise.

And find a purpose. Check in with your network and reach out. Take the time so sort the garage, or a room of the house at a time. Make a list of jobs, and work your way through them.

It’s also okay to grieve, and be worried.

Let yourself feel the feelings, just don’t let them take over. Talk to someone if you feel it’s getting on top of you, a friend, family member or call/ text 1737.

Leave a Comment

TO BUY MY NEW BOOK "Shit Happens: Lessons for Dealing with Life's Ups and Downs"... CLICK HERE