Researchers share their top tips for life in a bubble

COVID-19 Bubble Comforts

With New Zealand now at Alert Level 4, Kiwis are adjusting to life in our “bubbles”. We asked researchers around the country for their Bubble Comforts: a word of advice on how to stay healthy in body and mind over the weeks ahead.


Psychologist Dr Sarb Johal says, “focus on what you can control“. Many of us may be worried about the wide-scale impact of COVID-19, but we can feel less panicked by focusing on the things we can do within our own bubbles first. Find more of Sarb’s advice for living in lockdown here.






Dr Alex Gunn is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at the University of Otago. With many of us working from home and catching up with friends and family online, Alex recommends we “write with a pen from time to time to give your eyes and fingers a break“.






“Each day, think of one thing you are grateful for“, says Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles, a microbiologist  and trusted voice on COVID-19. Read more about what life in our bubbles really means in her article with cartoonist Toby Morris.






Dr Dougal Sutherland, a clinical psychologist at Victoria University of Wellington, says, “be kind – 1) to yourself, 2) to your bubble”. Find more of Dougal’s advice for looking after yourself, and the people around you, here.






Echoing that sentiment is Dr Hiran Thabrew, a child psychiatrist and paediatrician at Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland, who says, “be kind – do 3 nice things today.” Find more of Hiran’s wellbeing advice on YouTube.






Adjusting to a new lifestyle is never easy. “Don’t expect to work the same,” says Dr Paula O’Kane, “allow yourself space and time to adapt.” Paula is a senior lecturer in Management at the University of Otago, and is herself adjusting to working from home with her family. Read more of her top tips on working remotely here.






Once you have your new home office up and running, it’s really important to “take breaks” and “get fresh air” says Associate Professor Patricia Priest – “but without leaving your bubble” add her kids! Patricia is Head of Department at the University of Otago’s Medical School in Dunedin.  Patricia is now a regular contributor on RNZ’s Conoravirus Podcast. Tune in here.





For Emeritus Professor Elaine Rush, the three pillars of wellbeing are “food, feet (exercise) and fellowship”. So don’t forget to “phone a friend” while we’re not able to meet up in person.





Finally: “Have some fun,” says Dr Ian de Terte, a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology at Massey University. Many of the changes we are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 will be challenging, both for ourselves and for people we love. But we mustn’t underestimate the importance of keeping up our hobbies, and trying to have fun in new, creative ways.