New Zealand is entering uncharted waters with some rough weeks and months ahead as the global pandemic turns our lives upside down. The Herald has been part of the fabric of this country for 157 years and today we say: 'We are with you'.

In the space of three weeks New Zealand has gone from declaring its first coronavirus case to closing its borders to foreigners, and Kiwis facing upheaval in almost every aspect of their lives.

For many, it means more time at home as workplaces send staff to work remotely. Others are spending more time at home as public facilities and events shutter. Others fear schools and early childhood centres could be next.

But while many more of us are spending time the company of few, or even none, modern technology and a community spirit means we can still be together, apart.


So, here's how to get through.

Wear the kids out (and yourself)

Have a kick around outside. Lie on the grass and look at the clouds. Make your own kites and send them soaring. Make bottle rockets (see YouTube).

Don't let rain put you off going out - it's only water and afterwards there's puddles to jump in.

But if it's torrential, build forts. Make lots of mess, and then clean it up. Have speed bed-making competitions. Play lava flow in the lounge. Make paper darts (again, YouTube).

How to stay in touch

It can get lonely, so keep in touch, even if only by phone or online. Arrange virtual lunches or dinners with friends and family, using video apps such as WhatsApp or FaceTime.

Or make plans to chat over the phone after work with a friend.

Check your community Facebook for support and camaraderie. Local communities are using other online tools to stay in touch and support the most vulnerable.

Among groups set up is one by broadcaster Hilary Barry, called "Don't feel isolated while you're self-isolating" and is for housebound residents.


How to set up a home office

Make it a real office. Working from bed in your jammies might sound appealing. But your mental health and productivity will thank you if you set up the best mock-office you can and try to stick to your usual workday routines as much as possible.

You can be creative - ironing boards, laundry baskets and even stacked toilet rolls have been used to make that home office just a little bit more comfortable.

And to cope best with that new world, structure your day just as before - go to bed and get up at the same time as before, and use the time you save from the lack of commute not to sleep in but to give yourself a healthy start to the day by getting outside for a walk or other exercise.

Things to do you're bored

Get outside. Go for a walk. Go to the beach or the park. Enjoy nature - we have plenty of room in New Zealand, so no trouble keeping 1.5 metres apart.

If the weather's bad, dig out the board games or cards. Go really old school and have a go at charades.

At night, discover the stars with the SkyView app. Or see what planes are overhead (those which are still flying) on Flightradar24.

Try new recipes. Listen to those podcasts you downloaded a year ago. Auckland libraries are closed for the next two weeks at least, but the app Libby lets you download e-books.

If that's too much work, stretch out on the couch at listen to an audio book (there's an app for that too - Overdrive).

There's also TV, if all else fails, but keep the content light if you can. Don't download pandemic movie Outbreak, stick to comedies. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Eat well

Don't panic buy. Just get a bit extra on each shop. Imagine you're taking a two week holiday from the supermarket.

And if you really don't want to venture out, Meal kit delivery service My Food Bag
has launched a $139.99 My Back-Up meal option designed to take the hassle of stocking up the pantry with long-life items.

And tempting as it is, try to stick to three, healthy meals a day. Good food will boost your immune system, and your spirits.

Mental health

It's ok to feel afraid. But be gentle on yourself and others.

Help yourself get through by relying on information from the Ministry of Health and setting rules about how often you read or watch updates on the virus.

We can't go on big overseas adventures or to big events, but we can enjoy the simple things in life - playing with our children or animals, watching funny TV shows, enjoying a good home-cooked meal and laughing at the endless supply of meme take-downs of the virus.

The Mental Health Foundation has designed a resource on on looking after your mental health during the pandemic. T

Their posts and stories on Instagram are also worth following - one of the best this week: "It's all right to feel a bit all over the place".

Physical health

Self distancing and good hygiene are your friends. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If you need to cough or sneeze cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or the inside of your elbow.

Avoid hugs, hongi and handshakes.

Make sure you have essential medicines to last two weeks. Stay away from elderly or otherwise medically vulnerable people if you're sick.