It is to be expected that we will feel stressed or anxious at some point. Our lives have been fragmented, distorted and turned upside down. We may be particularly anxious about our own health, or worried about that of our loved ones. We may be worrying about finances or employment. We may be grieving or supporting friends or relatives who are struggling.
The lockdown measures have had a particular impact on our living arrangements. Many of us are now with our partners or families for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is something we have probably not done before. Or we may be seeing our families less often than we are used to, or we may be living on our own unexpectedly. Adjusting and adapting to new ways of living will bring about frustrations and annoyances (and maybe some good things as well!).
It might help
· to acknowledge that living together 24/7, or on our own unexpectedly, is not easy – for any of us
· to consider what will give us the best outcome (under current circumstances)
· to remember that we will all be struggling with this in different ways
We have to look at the wider picture. If we are living in close proximity to others, then we need to try to make the space where we are all living as pleasant as we can. We all have a part to play in this, we need to compromise.
We need to listen to each other and try to understand what is best for the other. Look at what will give us all something of what we need and make the space a pleasanter space to be.
Being on your own during these unprecedented times might present new challenges for you. Many people live very happily with their own company. Yet there is a difference between when it is a choice and when it is enforced.
Keeping in touch with people on the phone or the internet, or joining in with any volunteering opportunities, can be a way of maintaining social connections.
It is about making a new routine and thinking about what other things you might want to bring into your space and time. If you have access to the internet then there are many things to try out and get involved with.
Space and Time
Using the space differently in our homes can help break up the time. We need to work on small blocks. Arranging your space for morning, afternoon and evening activities can help manage the days. Create new routines for day to day living.
One of the most challenging aspects might be that you cannot get ‘private’ time, time when you can just allow your thoughts to wander free without interruption.
We all need some time when we know it is ‘our time’. Securing this when you are in a household of others can be a challenge. Talk to those you are living with and make it clear this is for you and not a rejection of them. Discuss what private time they might need to help them remain in a good place. Think about how you might achieve this:
· Have a chair that you turn to look out of a window and ask not to be disturbed for 15 / 30 / 60 minutes. This is your private’ time
· If you have a room that is not in use go in there
· If you relax by cooking then ask for an hour without interruption in the kitchen
· Even take over the bathroom for half an hour (warn people beforehand!) take cushions and music and just chill
· Sit in the garden, or on the back doorstep, have a coffee
Uninterrupted time is sometimes a thing we take for granted yet it is a still place where we can just reconnect with our self.
Managing the tensions and anxieties of what we are experiencing now might mean learning to check out our thoughts and feelings. Learn to relax or meditate and learn to let go of the things that cause us frustration.
There are countless YouTube or other website links to relaxation and meditation. However, a quick relaxation technique is just to take a minute or so – stop, breathe in deeply through your nose, hold for a count of three and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat these steps three or four times.
If you want to relax and reconnect with yourself, and you have a little bit more time, sit in a quiet space, breathe deeply a couple of times, allow yourself to feel relaxed and then think of a pleasant place that you know, or somewhere you would like to go – a walk down on the beach, a shopping trip, meeting with friends. Allow yourself to be in that place, imagine walking along the beach, shopping. Imagine all the details, the sounds, the smells, the feel of sand under your feet. Allow yourself to fall into this place, to enjoy it.
Then slowly bring yourself back to where you are now. This is a refreshment, a reviver you can use whenever you have 10 minutes or more. A reminder of what life will be in the future.
Keeping a journal, writing, drawing or writing poetry about what is happening for you now, all these things help us to process the strange and unsettling times we are living through. What we mean by processing is getting our thoughts and feelings outside of ourselves, onto paper, into words or images so that we can look at them and try to make sense of what they mean for us.
Help and Support
Taking care of our mental health is important. If you need to talk there are a number of helplines where you can speak anonymously to someone about how you are feeling about what is happening. There is more information and links to support agencies at https://www.relationships-scotland.org.uk/family-support
Look out for our next blog:
Managing Conflict and Arguments at Home during Covid 19 Lockdown Measures