Taking care of your wairua

Uplifting your wairua (spiritual wellbeing) during the pandemic

COVID-19 is a physical illness but living through a pandemic takes a toll on our wairua or spiritual wellbeing, too. There's lots of places you can go for help to take care of your wairua.

Te Whare Tapa Whā

In te ao Māori (the Māori world) everything is connected. No one thing can be looked at without looking at the other things that affect or influence it.

A model of hauora (holistic wellbeing) commonly used in health is Te Whare Tapa Whā by Ta Mason Durie. He describes hauora as a whare (house) where 4 walls and a foundation are needed to provide a sturdy shelter. Each taha, or wall, shows an aspect of our wellbeing: 

  • taha wairua (spiritual)
  • taha hinengaro (mental and emotional)
  • taha tinana (physical)
  • taha whānau (family and social)
  • whenua (the foundation) – your whakapapa, connections, environment, places you belong, your culture and identity.

Image credit: Mental Health Foundation, NZ

What is wairua?

Wairua is personal for every person. There's no right or wrong way to feel or think about our wairua. It can be about your relationship with nature, people and culture. It could be your whakapapa (whānau connection) in the past, present or future. Your wairua can be who and what your are, where you have come form and where you are going. It could also be how you show up in the world, or how you see yourself. 

For some people, wairua is also about faith or religious beliefs. This includes belief in a higher power, or an internal connection to the universe.

We encourage you to think about what wairua means to you personally and the things you might do to uplift your wairua.

Why is wairua important?

Paying attention to your wairua is  as important as taking care of the other aspects of your health and wellbeing. A person’s wairua is best supported by thinking about all the things that make us feel happy, healthy and content. In other words, a holistic and connected approach. Read more about finding the balance.

Feeling comfortable in your identity, values and beliefs, helps you to feel secure in who you are and what you stand for. When you are content within yourself you can cope better with challenges, build strong whānau relationships and discover things that uplift you. Nourishing your wairua might be described as ‘feeding your soul’ or feeling a deep sense of fulfilment.

Image credit: Health Navigator NZ

COVID-19 and wairua

COVID-19 is a physical illness but living through a pandemic also takes its toll on our wairua. Even if you never get COVID-19, we’ve all been living through a difficult time since 2020, with lockdowns and many limits we’re not used to having. This effect can build up over time. 

If you or someone in your home is sick, you have to isolate, which may take you away from the people, places and activities that support your wairua. Being online may not be your chosen way of staying in touch but it's important that you do, so try to think of other ways you can stay in touch with friends and whānau. You could pick up the phone, write a letter, or arrange a group Zoom or Whatsapp.

Staying connected is important, isolation should not mean isolated! 

It might also be a time where you strengthen your connection to those you live with. Try sharing some family history, board games, jigsaws or cooking together. You could also try a “device free” day!

You may miss out on your regular faith-based services in a place of worship, or hui at marae. You could also find regular sport and social events are interrupted or cancelled. You could miss out on special events such as birthdays, weddings, funerals and tangihanga. Some of these occasions may have to be done differently.

Losing someone you love is always a challenging time and it's even more difficult during COVID-19. We may need to adapt some traditions and look at different ways of farewelling whanau and those we care about.

What you can do to support your wairua?

  • Stay connected to people.
  • Explore your own culture or language.
  • Find creative ways to do things differently.
  • Learn what nourishes your soul.
  • Attend to the small things.
  • Reach out to help others.
  • Journalling, drawing, mediation, yoga.
  • Get help when needed.

Here's a list of all sorts of ways you can take care of yourself.

Where you can go for help

Your church, marae, temple, mosque or synagogue offers spiritual support, as well as community and practical help. Support from whānau and friends who understand what you're coping with (as they are too) is really important. So reach out and let people know how you are feeling and you can support each other.

Here's some links to churches for specific community groups in Auckland:

  • Auckland Rainbow Community Church 
  • Pacific Islander's Presbyterian Church Newton 2 Edinburgh St, Newton, Auckland 1010, (09) 379 7692
  • Te Karaiti Te Pou Herenga Waka 35A Cape Road, Māngere, Auckland 2022 
  • Auckland Māori Seventh Day Adventist Church, 71 Skipton St, Māngere East, Auckland 2024, (09) 277 7433
  • Church of the Holy Sepulchre – Te Mihana Māori, 2 Burleigh Street, Grafton, Auckland 1023, (09) 377 5400
  • Otara Samoan Assembly of God 32 Kerwin Ave, East Tāmaki, Auckland 2013, (09) 274 5500
  • Assembly of God Church of Samoa Mangere, 36 Freda Place, Favona, Auckland, 2024
  • Assembly of God Church of Samoa Mt Wellington, 11 Lolim Plcae, Favona, Auckland 2024, 021 117 3274. 

Support options

If you ever feel you're not coping, it's important to talk with a trained health professional.

Helplines

  • Need to talk? (1737– free call or text) 
  • The Depression Helpline (0800 111 757) 757 or free text 4202 
  • Healthline (0800 611 116)
  • Youthline (0800 376 633)
  • The Lowdown Text 5626 for support to help young people recognise and understand depression or anxiety.
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800 787 797)

Digital tools

  • Groov is an app you can use to monitor, manage and improve your mental wellbeing.
  • Small Steps help you maintain wellness, find relief, or get help for yourself, friends or whānau
  • HABITs Messenger – (including Aroha Chatbot) a uniquely New Zealand chatbot app designed for young people.
  • Triple P Online online parenting support.   

(Health Navigator NZ and Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand, Waitematā, 2022) 
Descriptive transcript in English 
View transcript in Cook Islands Māori (part 1, part 2, part 3)
View transcript in Niuean (part 1, part 2, part 3)
View transcript in Tokelauan (part 1, part 2, part 3)

Learn more

Support to get through COVID-19 Mental Health Foundation NZ.
The Whakatau Mai catalogue offers a range of ideas, resources and online activities.
Spirituality and awe All Right?, NZ.
Matariki – a time to reflect, celebrate and look forward All Right? NZ.
Five ways to wellbeing Mental Health Foundation, NZ. 
Worksheet – refuelling the tank, fuel in, fuel out Mental Health Foundation, NZ. 
64 ways to take care of yourself and So what do I do? Mental Health Foundation and Employment Assistance Programme, NZ. 
Finding the balance worksheet Mental Health Foundation, NZ. 
Auckland events Auckland Council, NZ. Information about events on in Tamaki Makaurau.   
 

References

Taha wairua Medical Assurance Society, NZ
COVID-19 protection framework – guidelines for places of worship Unite against COVID-19, NZ 
Finding balance – Te Whare Tapa Whā Mental Health Foundation, NZ

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.