Rural Mental Health

Highlander Aaron Smith says he's no different to anyone else when it comes to dealing with the lockdown, but he has a few helpful tips that keep him on track.

"I just plan my days to be honest," he told The Country's Jamie Mackay.

"I make sure I have a purpose every day and being a father that's pretty easy," said Smith, who was watching his son Luka enjoying cartoons.

Smith had been listening to a mental health podcast, which had given him some important routines for coping with lockdown.

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"Get out of bed. Shower up. Change your clothes, so don't stay in your pyjamas all day - I think that's been really helping me - and then also, having a purpose for the day.

"Trying to achieve one thing a day. Whether that's reading a chapter of a book [or] for me - doing some training, listening to some podcasts.

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"[I] just plan my day the night before and it's been really good - that's been helping me."

Smith said he had also been journaling at night which he had found helpful.

"I sort of sum it all up in bed at night. I've got a book [where] I write down how I felt about the day - highs and lows - and then I plan the next day so I've got something exciting to look forward to."

While keeping fit was no problem for Smith, who said he had a "good little set up" in his shed, it was difficult to stay "rugby fit."

"The contact, the actual feel of running. How do you run five or six kilometres at a high intensity on the street you know? You can't chase a rugby ball, it's amazing what you do when your'e trying to get to a ruck, or trying to get an inside ball off a line break - you run pretty quick."

If the Highlanders were lucky enough to start playing again after a couple of months, there would probably be a few teething problems, Smith admitted.

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"It'll be like a pre-season game. It'll take a couple of weeks."

The team was keeping in touch during the lockdown and competing in challenges set by their trainer. So far everything was going well, but Smith thought it was important to keep up the momentum.

"It's definitely something we've got to keep tabs on going forward, it's easy to do it that first week, but it's going to be weeks three and four where we're going to really have to stay connected as a group."

Also in today's interview: Smith shared some memories of his rural upbringing.