We are all aware of the need to socially distance and isolate ourselves during the COVID-19 crisis. For many, that means having to spend time with family and people we normally get time away from for extended periods. It’s a situation that is taxing our already extended coping abilities. The uncertainty of how long this will last is not helping. While for some families, the time together will be welcomed, for others, the stress may become an extra unbearable burden. There are things we can do, however that will help us through these trying times.
Find time to share feelings openly
At the end of each day, set aside time to get together where everyone has the opportunity to talk about how their day went. Encourage others to share their feelings openly. Expressing our fears and anxieties to others helps us cope with them and makes us feel we are not alone. Never judge feelings that others have—just listen and accept them for what they are. It is important that everyone is in agreement that anyone’s feelings will not be judged and everyone feels free to express them. Everyone should be encouraged to use “I” words when expressing themselves.
Allow for alone time and space
The need for people to have their own time and space will vary from person to person. Those who are more introverted may require this more than extroverts. While it may be difficult in some circumstances, find a place in the home where everyone can go to have their own time and space. It is important that this time and space be respected and honored.
Agree on how you will treat each other
Draft up an agreement on how we want to be treated and how we will treat each other. Ensure that everyone is heard when doing this. Drawing up a document that everyone signs adds to the importance and value everyone places on this. As well, agreeing to a list of duties and chores as a group helps prevent the added friction and stress of deciding every detail as it comes up.
Come up with a gratitude list
During this time, it can become very easy to just focus on the negative, on what we are giving up, or missing out on. Taking time to think of all the things we are grateful for will help us to think of what we still have and allow us to shift from all the gloom and doom to a more positive place. There are a number of ways to do this. At the end of the day or week, take turns asking everyone what they are grateful for. Have someone write this down, and post it in a place that is highly visible. Encourage everyone to add to the list whenever they think of something. We can turn this into a fun contest, by seeing who can come up with the most things.
Plan a time and activity for fun
Plan a fun activity at some point in the future that everyone enjoys and wants to participate in. It provides an opportunity for connection around something to look forward to. It also provides a relief from stress and friction that comes with having to be together for extended periods of time. As well, it gives everyone an opportunity to take their minds off the pandemics. This temporary relief will help us all in our ability to cope and make the most of the situation.