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A couple talks through their stress during isolation.

Under Pressure: How to Handle Relationship Stress During Isolation

This is a difficult and challenging time for many of us and one of the challenges that we face is being forced to distance ourselves from those we care for.

Mothers cannot see their sons, fathers cannot see their daughters, grandparents cannot see their grandchildren, people in relationships cannot see each other. We are in a state of isolation which is having an impact on us, mentally and physically.

Distance & Proximity

Being apart from those we love is not easy. Humans are essentially ‘pack animals’ – we need one another in order to feel, learn and understand ourselves and others better. Confinement and isolation bring anxiety and sadness, not to mention worry for our loved ones as we all strive to protect ourselves during these troubled times.

At the same time, it works the opposite way. Some people have found themselves thrown together; couples may be confined to a small space, unable to leave one another’s company. This can bring irritability, stress, and arguments; people need their space just as much as they need each other. On an extremely worrying note, cases of domestic abuse have risen since the pandemic began.

Our elderly, some of whom rely on the visit from their grandkids every week or their weekly chat in the local café with friends, have suddenly found these joyous occasions stripped from them.

Social Distancing

The tragedy this virus is inflicting on the world hits us in more ways than one; but while the virus tries to cause harm, we must do everything we can to help heal both ourselves and others.

Social distancing and following government guidelines are essential. The more of us who comply with the rules, the greater chance we stand of beating this virus. Staying indoors all day or shuffling warily at a two-meter distance from others in the local supermarket may not be easy, but it is through working together as a community and as a collective that we will be able to get back to our normal lives.

Relationships in Isolation: How To Handle It

Like many others, I have not seen my family or friends for weeks. I have not seen my partner and have experienced bouts of loneliness. It becomes especially difficult as we draw into summer and the sun comes out.

But there are ways we can combat many of the negative impacts the virus is having on us. We cannot stop the global situation, but we can make the best of the situation we are in.

So what are some ways we can handle relationship strain during isolation?

Online Communication

If you’re missing your family, friends, or partner, take advantage of the internet – it is one of our saving graces right now! Thanks to the advance of technology, we can video-chat with each other, play online games with one another, have written conversations with one another.

It may not be the same as holding each other or laughing face to face. But this communication is important – seeing a loved one’s face on the camera provides us reassurance and a sense of comfort. The mind has a tendency to trick itself when it’s left to its own devices. The propensity for thinking up worst-case scenarios and sinking into negative thinking is common. Having regular video-chats or online conversations with those you care for helps tackle the loneliness and lets you see the faces of your loved ones.

Agree on Space

If you are in the opposite situation to the above and you are confined with those in your relationships, then some kind of plan needs to be agreed upon so that people don’t end up snapping and snarling at each other. Avoiding cabin fever is essential.

So speak to your loved one and map out a plan which gives both of you the space you need. You could agree that one person stays in the living room for a couple of hours at a specific time while the other takes the bedroom. You could agree certain times you’ll both use the kitchen.

It might be awkward…

Such a conversation may be a little awkward at first, but it can do a world of good. A friend of mine has been confined with her housemate the last few weeks and has become increasingly irritated by his presence as he would turn up in the kitchen for a chat every time she would make a meal or try out one of her new recipes, or follow her around while gardening. However, she had been reluctant to point this out to him so as not to potentially offend him. I suggested she has a sit-down with him and explain to him politely and firmly that she needs her space. She did and the situation is much better – it turns out he didn’t even realize he was irritating her!

Much of the time, others can’t pick up on what we’re feeling and will only understand how we feel if we actually communicate with them directly. It is better to be upfront and honest, rather than silently stew in a myriad of stress and anger, which may end up exploding at some point.

Read this next: How to Create Healthy Boundaries With Love Instead of Fear

Help Your Community

Being apart from others can generate anxiety, loneliness, and sadness. One way that we can alleviate these feelings is to help others in our community who are also struggling. Vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, are unable to leave their homes and collect essentials such as food and medication.

Joining a neighborhood incentive that helps them in this area can make the world of difference, both to how we feel and, of course, to those in need. Helping others helps us because it makes us feel good to know that we are assisting those in need. We are not only offering assistance but helping to save lives.

You can volunteer from home…

In the UK, there are now over 750,000 of us across the country who have volunteered with GoodSam, which is working in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service. This app alerts a volunteer to a vulnerable person in the local area who requires assistance, such as shopping, medication or even a friendly phone call to check they are OK. It is certainly worth checking out nationwide incentives in our country of residence to see where we may be able to offer our assistance. This further brings a stronger sense of community and boosts our spirits.

Make Future Plans

If you are missing your loved ones, make a list of all the things you want to do with them once this pandemic is over. Maybe a weekend trip away somewhere or planning a day out that you’ve been meaning to do for ages, but never had the time?

One positive thing the pandemic has done is give us time to reflect, especially on the things we may be missing out on because our lives are so busy and hectic. A list of plans for fun and meaningful things to do when it is over gives us something to look forward to and creates optimism in our lives.

Relaxation Methods

If you are struggling with the stress of being confined with others or the stress of being confined alone, then relaxation methods are essential to helping you stay balanced and positive.

Meditation, which can last from as little as 5-10 minutes, can make a world of difference to how you feel. Likewise, if you are able to get out among nature in a way that is safe for you and others, grounding yourself barefoot in the earth is known to bring balance and relaxation to you.

Self-care helps in our relationships…

And never underestimate the power of a hot bath with essential oils mixed with a carrier oil.

Metaphysical help can come in the form of relaxation crystals, such as celestite and angelite, and meditating with these can help ground and soothe you. Furthermore, it can be helpful to pay attention to the astrological transits each day as this can have an effect on our moods and influence our thoughts. You can check out your Daily Horoscope here.

Reach Out For Help

Don’t suffer alone. Remember, we are all in this together and help is there one way or another, whether it’s through someone you know or an organization or charity that exists to help you with your situation. If things become particularly troubling, let someone help you. There is no shame whatsoever in admitting you need help. We all do.

Read this: How to Know if Online Therapy is Right for You

Conclusion…

We don’t know how much longer the isolation period will remain. Our struggles may differ from individual case to individual case, but during these troubling times, the best thing we can do is help each other and help ourselves.

If you are alone at this time, just remember you are not truly alone – your loved ones are still there, your relationships still exist. If you are confined with another, keep reminding yourself of how dear that person is to you and how precious they are. It can be easy when spending so much time in another’s company to take them for granted or forget why we love this person so much in the first place – reminding ourselves of the love we feel for them helps to tackle the irritation that creeps up on us.

Whatever stress, sadness, or anxiety you struggle with right now, remember that we are in this together and we will get through this – together.

Related Article: How to Stay Social in the Age of Social Distancing

Sarah Brownlee

Sarah Brownlee

Having worked as a teacher, a bartender, and even a private investigator, writing was something Sarah Brownlee just fell into, even though it had been her passion since she was a little girl. To date, she has written and published 3 Children and Young Adult fiction novels, ghostwritten for others, and... Read More

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