Our relationships will be hugely important for getting through the coronavirus outbreak
The coronavirus outbreak is leaving many of us feeling anxious about reducing social contact and self-isolating, and what that could mean. Our relationships will be hugely important for getting through this time but healthy relationships tend to need space and outside interests to thrive. As we’re being told to reduce social contact dramatically and as more of us need to self-isolate, this is likely to be tricky, putting our home life under added pressure.
Talk about your feelings
Staying at home may leave you feeling worried about all sorts of things like getting paid, how older relatives are coping and being plain bored. It can really help to talk about your concerns together.
You might choose to start each day with a quick wellbeing check-in. That way everyone knows how others are doing and can consider this when around them.
It also helps to limit the amount of time you spend discussing coronavirus, so you focus on other things. Of course, if one of you has symptoms but others don’t, it will be important to follow government guidance when doing your check-ins to decrease the chances of passing the infection on.
When somebody expresses a concern about coronavirus, or any other issue, listen to them and try to understand how they’re feeling. Avoid saying things like “you’re over-reacting” or using catastrophising language which could raise other people’s anxiety levels. If somebody is ill or is anxious about coronavirus, avoid bringing up other tricky issues unless really necessary. If somebody is worried, listen to their specific concerns and research the facts together. Do consider the ages of your children when choosing what to discuss with them.
Use technology to keep in touch
While you won’t be able to visit friends or hang out in public places during self-isolation, it’s still possible to keep in touch thanks to technology. Video calling friends, relatives and colleagues is about as close to face-to-face interaction as you can get in these circumstances. Consider picking up the phone for a chat where you may have otherwise sent a message.
If you’re getting frustrated with others in the house, it might be an idea to share how you’re feeling with a friend. This will increase your sense of involvement with others and may help to make the situation at home feel a little less claustrophobic.
Pause before you react
The reality of staying at home with others for days on end is that somebody will probably do or say something to annoy you at some point or you could of course do the same to others. It could be something simple or it could be related to existing issues between you and another family member that have been brought to the surface by current concerns.
Bearing in mind staying at home so much may be stressful in itself, try not to “react” to what might seem like a careless comment or perhaps implied criticism of some sort. If something gets to you, take some time out before responding. Even taking some deep breaths and counting to ten can prevent minor differences from becoming major blow-ups.
Choose your battles wisely and try and weigh up if, for now, the most important thing is to support each other to get through these tough times rather than creating further tensions about something that is perhaps, in the greater scheme of things, not that important and could wait until there’s a better time to discuss it.
In these challenging times, making the most of every form of support will be essential.
In the same way that keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues will be important, if you feel like getting some extra relationship support might be a good idea, Relate MTB offers web counselling via Zoom.