The global coronavirus pandemic is dramatically changing our lives and our relationships with people in our communities, our families, our homes, and our workplaces.
Millions of us have lost some or all our usual ways of seeing others as we try to keep each other safe. Many of us have found ourselves spending far more time than we are used to with those who share our homes, whether family, housemates or both – not to mention pets.
Losing normal contact with people and being thrown into much closer contact than usual can feel stressful and in some cases, worrying, frightening or even unbearable.
As humans, the relationships we form with other people are vital to our mental and emotional wellbeing, and really, our survival.
Human beings are so strongly motivated to have relationships because of our fundamental “need to belong”. The “belongingnesshypothesis” states that people have a basic psychological need to feel closely connected to others, and that caring, affectionate bonds from close relationships are a major part of human wellbeing.
During this strange and challenging time, it is worth considering additional ways to protect our relationships and try to cope a bit better with some of the relationship stresses many are feeling.
Patience And Understanding
When we all face uncertainty and worry about the coronavirus pandemic, changes in our relationships are probably so much harder to cope with. Therefore, it is worth trying to be extra patient and understanding, both with one another and with ourselves.
Ways to nurture healthy relationships:
Giving Time – putting more time aside to connect with friends and family.
Being Present – genuinely paying attention to the other people in your life and not being distracted by your phone or something else when you are in conversation with another.
Listening – truly listening to what others are saying and trying to focus on their needs in that moment.
Letting Yourself Be Listened To – honestly sharing your feelings with others and allowing yourself to be heard and supported by others.
Recognising Unhealthy Relationships – as an essential first step to moving forward from harmful relationships.
Joining In Support For Others
Getting involved in local efforts to support people who are more vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic is exceptionally favourable for supporters as well as the people being supported.
Creating some certainties:
Agreeing On Who Uses Which Parts Of The Home And When – for people living with others who are feeling irritated or overwhelmed by constant togetherness, deciding who is going to use which parts of the home during which parts of the day can be beneficial – e.g. during the day, when we may need to work and/or care for children.
Making Best Use Of The Physical Space You Have – planning space allocation including sharing or alternating use of space and being aware of others’ needs.
Sharing Out Household Tasks – having a daily routine around household tasks may help us feel more in control, at a time when we have lost a lot of control over our daily lives.
Continuing To Talk And Listen
Creating A Time Every Day To Express How Everyone Is Feeling – this could include what we have found most challenging during the day and what we are grateful for that day.
Allowing Space To Share And Listen Without Judgement – sharing feelings, without fear of being criticised or told off, can help us feel calmer and closer to one other.
The constraints we are currently living with will come to an end, but we will be physically closer to some and more distant to others in the meantime.
To get through this time, we all need to talk, listen, be kind and care for one another, building on what brought us together and what we want to see in the future.
We need deep connections and strong bonds now more than ever