Relationships, COVID-19 and Sheltering In Place
At a time like this, there are some simple tips and reminders for what works to ensure happy, healthy relationships, even when sheltering in place during a pandemic.
Many of us are isolating alone while many others are isolating with a loved one, a roommate, or a plural number of loved ones and/or roommates. What may have seemed fairly easy the first couple weeks may make way for a surplus of anxieties, frustrations, arguments, and depression a number of weeks into quarantine. Colleagues and clients mention the questions and concerns about discussions on a number of topics, especially if emboldened to bring up a difficult topic when in close quarters for this uncertain duration of time.
If a conversation seems too difficult or problematic, remember that balance is still key to maintaining, or reestablishing, a happy household. For one client, it became clear that the only real problem was too much time spent together. The client was at a loss for options when cooped up in their abode. Our discussions highlighted the realities of sheltering in place, which immediately normalized some level of anxiety. This led to a quick assessment by which they could recognize anxiety as it happens in real time or quickly thereafter. That same client found themselves often taken up by anxiety, taken out of the present, and thrown again and again into a catastrophic future. The client-focused on how to return to the present anytime they found themselves imagining various “worst case scenarios.” Time and time again, that same client realized that they were actually fine RIGHT NOW. And from RIGHT NOW: they could decide what needed to be done to ensure the best possible outcomes.
For the couple living in close quarters, walks had been wonderful daily rituals, but now one walk was together and a second was taken separately each day. This provided each individual time alone; coming back together felt better than their togetherness felt prior to time apart. Individuals living together find solace in adhering to a schedule of their own making. This means making sure that if you need time alone in another room for an hour or a day it is okay.
One upshot of working from home or simply being at home is you may have the freedom to dictate a great deal of how and when particular tasks are completed. Repeatedly clients tell me that the freedom to honor how they work best, what they would like to include, how they would like to use their time is quite liberating – and more productive! Setting aside time for walks, bike rides, jogs or runs, exercise indoors (with or without a virtual meet up or class) worked out muscles just as much as it worked through emotional tensions.
With these concepts in mind, quarantine can and will improve.