Be kind to yourself, as well as others

19 Sep 2023 | Articles

volunteering boosts mental health

For Mental Health Awareness week we’re looking at 5 Ways, 5 Days: Simple but effective things you can do for your mental wellbeing each day this week (and every week!).

We are constantly inspired by the seemingly boundless energy and time that so many of you devote to others – helping people, and enhancing our environment.

Your kindness to others is amazing – but remember to also be kind to yourself, and take time to nourish and care for your own mental wellbeing. Here’s some simple ways you can do that.


Being ‘dialled in’ is something you can do at any stage – and sometimes it’s the little things which give us a lift in our daily lives.

Here’s a few to try:
• Slow down and enjoy the small things – beautiful birdsong, the sunshine, flowers, children’s laughter, that lovely hot coffee or cuppa tea
• Write down three things you’re grateful for
• Unplug for a few hours – sign out of social media or turn off your device notifications
• Get out of your usual environment during your lunch break – go for a walk, or even find a sunny spot to enjoy your lunch
• Enjoy the beauty of the sunset, or do a little stargazing at the night sky
• Take a moment to try these mindful breathing exercises.

Tuesday – GIVE – TUKUA

Today is all about kindness – which is the cornerstone of all volunteering. When we give to others – whether through our time, resources, or support – we create a positive ripple effect. It boosts our happiness and sense of purpose, and enriches other lives. It’s a win/win! Even a small gesture might mean the world to someone else, and you’ll get a bit of a boost, too!
Here’s a few ideas:
• Give a smile to a stranger, or have a chat – it might be just the boost they need!
• Bake something yummy to share with friends, family, or workmates
• Lend a helping hand – perhaps as simple helping an elderly neighbour with a chore, or maybe finding a new volunteering opportunity through
• Pop excess fruit or vegetables from your garden out on the street with a ‘help yourself’ sign, or take it to work
• Join a community clean-up day – it could be a local river, beach or park, or a tree planting project
• Donate toys, books, sports equipment, clothes that you are no longer using to a local charity


Today is the perfect opportunity to give yourself a refreshing boost by getting active and releasing those “feel-good” endorphins which can lift your mood, help you relax and de-stress, and even sharpen your thinking and boost creativity. It doesn’t have to be a full-on cardio workout! Choose to do something that is purely for feeling good or having fun, and dedicate it to your wellbeing.

Here’s a few ideas for starters:
• Get into the great outdoors – go for a walk through a park or along the beach, or up your local maunga
• Take the dog for a walk – or volunteer to take your neighbour’s dog for a walk
• Grab your mates and organise a friendly sports match at a local park
• Dance like no-one’s watching! Learn a new TikTok dance, or try a new YouTube workout
• Walk, run, or cycle to school or work – or perhaps park a little further away or get off the bus a couple of stops early and walk the rest of the way
• Use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator
• Get out in the garden and pull a few weeds or do some summer planting


Meaningful relationships and connections with other people bring us huge joy – so why not use today as a sign to arrange that outing you’ve been postponing, go to that social event you were going to skip, or simply seek out conversations and connections with the people around you?
A few ideas to help you connect:
• Call or send a message to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while
• Organise a morning tea or potluck dinner with friends, family, or colleagues
• Bring out the board games and spend a device-free evening with family or flatmates
• Get to know your workmates a little better by using our kōrero card set
• Introduce yourself to someone new
• Reach out to someone who may be lonely, or going through tough times, and invite them to spend time with you 
• Volunteer around your community. You’ll find lots of ideas at!


Learning and trying out new things keeps us interested and engaged (and makes us more interesting and engaging!). Curiosity opens the door to a whole world of possibilities – and each new skill or added knowledge creates a sense of achievement and success. There are so many ways to keep learning today and every day.
Here’s a few ways to keep learning:
• Read about a topic you’re interested in, watch that documentary, or listen to that podcast
• Do some puzzles! Crosswords, sudoku, riddles are all great ways to exercise the mind.
• Join a class or group – learn an instrument, join a book club or put on your dancing shoes and learn some new moves
• Start a new hobby, or restart one you haven’t done in a while. YouTube has tutorials on almost anything you want to try!
• Look up a new recipe and have a go at making it. Get your mates or whānau over to enjoy your creation.
• Put up post-it notes of kupu hou/new words around your whare or office to help you learn Te Reo Māori.

Volunteer Stories

Let's Talk about the Animals

I highly recommend volunteering ... especially when you can talk to others about the animals at Auckland Zoo!