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Feeling low

It’s natural to react to any changes in life, including exams, relationships, whānau, money, and more. Sometimes these emotions can be mixed or seem bad or negative. For some of us, they can have an impact on our wellbeing so we experience mental distress such as depression, anxiety or stress.

This is all normal and expected, even if it doesn’t always feel great. The feelings will pass, and there are also strategies you can try to help feel better.

Managing your feelings

There are resources and strategies to help you calm down, relax, and help manage stress, anxiety, or depression. Sometimes there isn’t a way to get rid of these feelings and there aren’t immediate solutions, but you can find ways to deal with them.

Avoid blaming yourself, being pushy, or judging someone who is going through mental distress. Some general tips:

  • understand what you can and cannot control: if it’s a difficult assignment, you can learn how to plan your time better. If it’s someone in your whānau falling ill or an angry customer at work, know that this isn’t your fault.
  • learn what triggers stress or anxiety so you’re prepared to deal with it in the future.
  • take time to look after yourself: maybe it’s daily walks, turning off your phone for a few hours, setting aside time to relax by listening to music, seeing whānau, or getting enough sleep.
  • participating in a community activity that can help you enhance your connections to others, build confidence in yourself, or feel a sense of belonging, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

You can also try different ways to relax, such as meditation, mindfulness techniques. They’re often recommended by those who have been through the same feelings, but if you find that something isn’t working for you, know that this isn’t your fault.

Some resources include:

  • Five ways to wellbeing: The Mental Health Foundation’s list of tips to help enhance your wellbeing
  • Small Steps: a site with small digital tools for self-care techniques and ways to learn about your mental wellbeing
  • Melon Manual: videos, worksheets, and information on taking care of your emotional wellbeing for youth in Aotearoa
  • Dear Em: a safe space and list of mental wellbeing resources for young women in Aotearoa
  • Health Navigator: a guide on how to practise mindfulness
  • Anxiety NZ: general resources for self-help and information about anxiety
  • Depression NZ: information and resources, including self-tests and self-help for depression and anxiety
  • All Right?: provides general resources on mental wellbeing and health
  • Te Kaha: focused on helping rangatahi take care of their whare tapawhā

Reaching out

Some people feel better when someone actively listens to them. It can be hard at first but think about reaching out to a friend or family member you trust. Tell them you need judgement-free help with problem-solving, or just want them to be a sounding board. In some cases, you can get referred to someone who can help via your doctor.

If you feel more comfortable with contacting a professional, you can try the following free services:

  • Need to talk?: Call or text 1737
  • The Lowdown: Call 0800 111 757 or text 5626
  • your GP, who can sometimes refer you to a counselling service for free
  • mental health services at your institution (if you’re studying)

Urgent help

If you need urgent help or support, it’s important to contact a professional. Do the same for anyone you know who has mentioned having these thoughts.

Remember that chatting to someone who is trained to help can save a life, so it’s important to intervene as soon as possible. Here are services that are free to access anytime:

  • Emergency help: Call 111
  • Depression helpline: Call 0800 111 757
  • Lifeline: Call 0800 543 354
  • Youthline: Call 0800 37 66 44 or text 234
  • Need to talk? Call 1737

Panic attacks

Panic attacks can be quite scary if you’ve never experienced one or don’t recognise what it feels like. Sometimes they can be triggered by specific events or a build-up of stress, but a lot of people also experience them without having an obvious cause. The symptoms usually include:

  • your heart racing
  • sweating
  • chills
  • difficulty breathing or a tightness in your throat
  • trembling or shaking
  • a sense of dread
  • a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth

These symptoms can appear without warning and last for around ten minutes, and disappear soon after.

Panic attacks may be painful or scary in the moment, but they won’t harm you, leave long term physical effects, or kill you. It’s just how your body is reacting to what’s going on in your life.

For more information on panic attacks and how to get through them, visit Health Navigator or the Mental Health Foundation website.

Alcohol and drugs

Acting responsibly with alcohol will help prevent any negative experiences or consequences. Peer pressure can be involved in some situations, so make sure that you are making informed decisions. And don’t forget to look out for your mates! You can read more about alcohol safety on

Before consuming any kind of drug, try to understand what impact it can have on you and the people around you. Drug testing kits are usually available for free at festivals. You can read more about these on Know your Stuff and the New Zealand Drug Foundation.

If you ever notice signs of overdose or extreme behaviour, or feel unsafe, call 111 or Healthline. Contacting any of those services won’t get you into trouble and might save somebody’s life.