Follow these simple tips to help you cope with the ups and downs of living with Covid, and put things in perspective as we plan for 2022.
New Zealanders have high hopes for a safe summer and a better 2022, but it's still easy to succumb to worry in the face of unpredictability.
Worrying and panic, however, won't prevent problems.
Instead, it can rob us of enjoying the now, Dr Kirsty Ross, a senior clinical psychologist and lecturer at Massey University says.
"Making time to worry is helpful, but make it time-limited and contained, rather than it taking over your whole day."
What this means is that you don't avoid thinking about what you're anxious about, but that you have time in your day for other things, and people.
Annie Canning of Canning Life Coaching says as we head into 2022, actively focus on the positives.
It is easy to succumb to fear, yet experts say there's still room for optimism.
Prioritise your wellbeing
Looking after your physical self is critical in times of unease, as managing stress soaks up energy, Ross says.
Doing so will give you clarity for problem-solving, and allow your body to recover from the physical symptoms of stress, adds Dr Anna Rolleston, managing director at The Centre for Health.
Rolleston suggests practising regular breathing, especially when you feel stressed, anxious, worried and annoyed.
An easy breathing pattern is to breathe in for a count of two and then breathe out for a count of two.
Rolleston says as well as regular breathing, get outside. Nature and regular activity are stress relievers.
Further, boost your immunity by using supplements if you are feeling particularly run down. Vitamin C, magnesium and zinc are good options.
No matter how you're feeling, it's essential to stay in communication with family and friends.
Going for a walk with a friend and having the chance to share your feelings, can be uplifting and also help normalise what you're going through.
"You get to see that you are not the only person feeling the emotions you are feeling at the time," explains Ross, adding that it can also help to get another perspective when things feel hard, as well as assistance with problem-solving.
"Social support is key during times of stress, just to feel that others are understanding your situation and how you are doing."
Identify the source(s) of your emotion
A new Covid announcement, a family member's cutting comments or being excluded in social settings can trigger big and intense feelings, says mindfulness coach and owner of Flow, Angelena Davies.
Her advice for coping is to acknowledge what you're feeling.
"This alone can sometimes disarm the intensity," she says.
Davies says tuning out of our heads and into our bodies - "our heart or gut instinct" - can guide us to make decisions and choices that feel lighter and easier.
She also suggests asking yourself: "What else is possible?"
"Rather than concluding that everything is chaotic and some people are crazy, we can keep asking for new and better possibilities to show up. This creates a sense of hope for the future."
And wherever possible, be kind and refrain from shaming and blaming.
"We are all making decisions based on our own beliefs and that's okay."
Eject Covid from conversations
Principal of John Paul College Patrick Walsh advises parents to not overthink what next year might bring.
Instead, get on with life and have a positive summer before preparing for the new school year.
Children are looking for a "Covid-free zone" at home, having spent two years, on and off, "locked up in rooms" staring at computers, he says.
Feedback from secondary students at his school is that they want to connect with nature as a whānau and have "escapism" in the form of movies, parties, restaurants, beach cricket, day trips or a holiday.
"And lots of unplanned downtimes where they can just talk, sleep, play board games, read and chill out.
"Some have pent up energy and frustration and want to engage in vigorous mountain biking, running and gym workouts.
"Covid has required all of us to be adaptable, nimble and resilient. These are qualities that we will need to build on next year including in our children."
Walsh says being prepared for 2022 will give parents peace of mind and that includes children having a device; learning how to cook well at home (some students are now starting their own veggie patch), and being ready to engage in distance learning.
Canning says there will always be challenging events you must navigate, and 2022 will undoubtedly provide its fair share of speed bumps, however, focusing on the bigger picture will help you keep perspective.
Set new goals, and focus your time and energy on achieving these.
The pandemic calls on us to not only care for others but also be gentle with ourselves.
Make sure you do something every day that exercises your brain and something that's purely for pleasure to lift your mood when things feel hard.
"Doing something that feeds our soul helps us to feel we have a degree of control over our lives, and that we can be the person we want to be (as well as) control how we respond when the unexpected happens," says Ross.
Building a level of tolerance for uncertainty is important, and a good way to do that is to recognise your strengths and those of your family and community.
"Build confidence in [your] ability to cope, by looking at how well we have coped with the past couple of years and the challenges that we've already overcome."
Disconnect from technology
Being constantly bombarded with bad news stories through social media adds to feelings of anxiety and can be overwhelming.
Unplugging from technology is like a reboot for your brain, Canning says.
It will improve your sleep, support a higher level of connection with those around you, decrease anxiety and depression, especially in adolescents, and support stress recovery.
Make a point of putting boundaries around the time you spend on devices.
Double down on your routine
Routine provides us with an anchor when life is uncertain.
Stick to your morning exercise, meditation or sleep ritual for a sense of security and control.
If you don't have routines in place, create them.
While there is no need to overreact, it's wise to enter 2022 with a plan.
The impact of Covid-19 has been different for everyone, says Shirley McCombe, manager of Tauranga Budget Advice, with job losses becoming more prevalent due to the vaccine mandate, and those who have incurred large debts as a result of decreased income.
"However, this is small in comparison to the impact of rising rents, petrol, food, and utility costs," she says.
McCombe says the best thing people can do now to avoid committing to large expenses, is to put money aside to help ride out the impacts of Covid disruptions.
If you are struggling financially, don't be afraid to ask for free help. Budget Advice offers Zoom appointments at night for those who are working.
Mentors can speak with creditors, negotiate payment plans, source interest-free or low-interest loans, and support you while you get back on your feet.
In these stressful times, feeling challenged and even distressed is understandable and no one should feel that they need to manage on their own.
It is still possible to move forward with hope.