The pandemic has been with us for more than a year now, and with it came drastic changes for everyone. Some were not as affected by the changes as others — as some endured significant life changes. Were you sent home to work remotely during COVID? Was your spouse also sent home? Did these changes cause you to struggle in your relationship? If so, you’re not alone.
When the United States went into lockdown, everyone prepared for a two-week closure of everything. Instead, life has not returned to normal for most, more than a year later. This closure meant couples and families typically were away from each other for work and school and were now home with each other 24/7. And since we were encouraged to leave the house as little as possible, there was no often no place to go to get some space.
It is challenging to be with someone 24/7, especially under stressful conditions such as a worldwide pandemic. In this article, we’ll discuss the many ways we can maintain healthy relationships during the pandemic and continue to thrive.
Tips For Maintaining Healthy Relationships During A Pandemic
Have you ever watched the show Big Brother? The individuals on the show have pretty much everything they need provided for them, with the caveat they need to stay in the house or yard and cannot interact in any way with the outside world. The contestants often end up doing some seemingly strange things they may never have imagined doing in the real world.
This behavior is not unusual. People can do some odd things when they are isolated, feeling lonely while never being alone, and performing the same activities day in and day out. This sort of forced isolation can cause friction in personal relationships and within one’s own mind, sometimes resulting in frustration, outbursts, and other seemingly aberrant behaviors.
There are ways to foster healthy relationships while cooped up with your partner, roommate, or family members. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to help foster healthy relationships during trying times.
#1 Practice Self-Care
Being cooped up in the house is challenging, so it is important to remember to practice self-care. Some examples include making sure you take time to work out, meditate, and get some fresh air. During a pandemic, it is even more vital to make time for yourself throughout the day and do small things to take care of yourself.
#2 Find a Hobby
Find a hobby, something you never imagined you would have time to do for yourself. Make time for that new hobby. Have you always wanted to play the piano, or perhaps take up painting? Give yourself an hour each day to develop some skills. There are so many free learning opportunities available on Youtube and elsewhere. All you need to do is decide on a hobby and stick with it. Outlets like these not only help you grow, but they can make for interesting developments in conversation with those around you and leave you feeling more fulfilled.
#3 Establish a Routine
With everyone home, it can be easy to decide to “sleep in” or do precisely the opposite and roll out of bed at 5:45 am and immediately sit down at your desk to start your workday. Either can lead to burnout and make it hard to feel grounded during this tough time. Make it a point to set a schedule and honor it, so that you can manage your time and dedicate yourself to what you need to when the time comes.
#4 Schedule Your Workday
Working from home is excellent, at first. Then you realize you are working so much more because distractions are ever present and it is difficult to log off when you could keep going and get some more work done. Develop a schedule for your actual workday and stick to it as much as possible. Differentiating work and home life is especially important when the two intermingle as closely as they do during the pandemic, and it’s important to be able to turn off your work self and spend quality time with your loved ones.
#5 Fresh Air
Get outside as much as possible. Take your laptop with you and get some work done at a bench or table if you need to. Getting fresh air together is even better. Exercise outdoors or simply just sit on a porch swing for quality time together.
Not only are children home all day, but they are also remote learning for school. The requirements of each child are different based on school, age, and grade. They could be fully remote, some sort of hybrid schedule, or eventually returning fully to in-school learning. Parents are working from home, but parents also need to help their children with their schooling during the pandemic, often meaning they might need to tear themselves away from important work to manage a crisis or two along the way.
Schooling and child management cannot be the responsibility of only one parent. Work out a schedule to share in the duties and responsibilities, and honor each other’s time and workload.
#7 Support System
Each person in the relationship should have their support system. Yes, they can support each other, but they should have other family or friends to help. People that may be just a phone call or text away. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Those with healthy social networks are able to draw on the emotional support they need from multiple sources, allowing them to be more well-rounded, feel heard, and most importantly – not draw all of their emotional and mental support from their significant other.
Your definition of fun may need modifying during the pandemic, but it is still possible to have fun. Turn that Saturday movie night into an at-home movie night. Watch that movie in the backyard by a nice campfire for a drive in experience with the family. Make time to come up with fun ideas and engage your loved ones to keep things fresh.
Listen to one another and allow each other to express their own needs. Changes from the pandemic put people in fight or flight mode, and it can lead to couples saying things they don’t mean or failing to say things they should be. Let each other know it is okay to communicate and let each other know when you are struggling.
#10 Family and Friends
Do everything you can to keep in contact with family and friends. Now is the time to rely on phones, social media, texting, messaging, video calls, and conferencing. This contact allows you to feel less lonely and isolated and strengthen your relationships with those you care about while honoring their space and health.
#11 Find Time For One Another
As important as it is for self-care, it is just as crucial for relationship care. Do not neglect to make time specifically for the two of you. After the kids are in bed, watch a favorite movie, play a game, or just talk about your day with no distractions or interruptions.
#12 Job Loss
Losing a job is a significant stressor on a relationship in the best of times. In a pandemic, job loss can be devastating. Fortunately, the government has stepped up and helped the unemployed in a significant way through stimulus funds, food stamp stipends, and unemployment extensions and stipends. However, it still leads to future uncertainty, and finding new employment in a pandemic can be challenging.
Talk about these feelings with your significant other and work on a plan together. You are not alone, and if you try to navigate job loss chaos by yourself, it can lead to resentment and frustration.
How To Get Help When you Need It
Most of all, if you feel that you are struggling with your relationships, it is critical to reach out and be proactive. Lisa Rogers Counseling can help. Teletherapy sessions are available in several states, including New York, California, Texas, Illinois, Vermont, New Jersey, and Florida. You don’t even need to go into the office.
Service options include:
- Adult – individual, couple, or marriage therapy
- Child – group, family, social skills or play therapy
- Adolescent – individual, group, family, or substance abuse therapy
We can focus on ADHD, behavioral, depression, relationship, loneliness, eating, anxiety, or eating concerns and disorders.
Contact us today to schedule your teletherapy session or to learn more about our services.