Lockdown is an unprecedented event that is completely out of our control. This is leading to an increase in stress and anxiety, placing a good deal of strain on our relationships.
We’re spending more time than ever with the people inside our household and we’re also not permitted to leave these households except for what the government has allowed. Our partners become our main source of social support and interaction as we’re unable to visit other relatives and spend time with our friends.
Walk with Me
You might have also found yourself facing entirely new circumstances in your daily life such as working from home, looking after the children 24/7 and staying on top of household chores. It is normal to feel overwhelmed during these tough times, and it might even cause stress for many people as they struggle with a lack of control over their own lives. This is why I have been offering walk-and-talk conversations to people when they go for their daily walk. These are completely confidential and can help change the way you think and feel, altering your response to these stressful circumstances.
It is important to look after yourself throughout this difficult time and protect those relationships that bring you joy and happiness. These tips may help you to avoid problems in relationships whilst faced with the stress and anxiety of lockdown.
Put YOU First
If you fail to take care of yourself properly, it is likely that you’ll be less effective at nurturing your relationship. Lockdown is placing a lot of responsibility on your partner as for many, they’ve become your only source of stress relief and social interaction. Try to acknowledge and understand what you are feeling each day. Whether that is anger, sadness, loneliness or even guilt. Spend a certain period of each day doing something for yourself whether that is meditating, reading a book or going for a walk. Benefit from those mood-boosting endorphins by incorporating exercise into your routine each day, and remember to stay connected with friends and family through messages, phone calls and video calls.
Think about all the feelings you’ve experienced in the past weeks. Your partner is most likely experiencing the same. Spending lots of time with somebody can mean that you’re less likely to ask them how they’re feeling, as you might assume you already know. After all, you’re around each other almost every minute of every day. But people can be very good at hiding their true feelings and pretending that everything is fine to avoid being a burden to their loved ones. Try asking open-ended questions to get an accurate sense of how they are actually feeling. You could say…‘how was your day today?’, ‘what can I do to help you with that?’ ‘what are you thinking about right now?’
Spending every day together can mean that you fail to make time for each other, and simply exist around each other instead. Try to include ‘date nights’ or activities that allow you to actively spend time being around one another. This can be crucial to avoiding relationship problems. Maybe you go for your walk together, take up a new hobby together, or cook an elaborate meal for the two of you to enjoy.
You might still be working, have elderly or vulnerable family members that need checking up on regularly, or maybe you have children to attend to. Whichever it is, you’re likely to require some downtime of your own. Be clear about the working hours you will stick to whilst working from home, so that you and your partner know not to disturb the other during these times. Try to give each other space during the day to allow them to do something for themselves – away from the children or any other distractions.
Sharing is Caring
Now that you’re all spending more time within the household, it’s likely that there’s lots more to do. You’ll be making all your own meals rather than grabbing a lunch deal on your break which means they’ll be more washing up, cleaning up and tidying. If one person ends up doing everything, resentment and frustration is likely to increase. Create a schedule, dividing up the daily tasks that need to be done and let your partner know if you’re struggling to stay on top of things. If you’re supporting children, pass over these duties to your partner to give yourself a breather. In these tough times, we must support each other, but remember that your partner is not a mind reader. You need to ask for help when you need it. And remember, sometimes it is not what you say, but how you say it that matters.
The challenge is far from over and will continue to test our strength, resilience and tolerance. Try to remember that everyone is doing their best. Be grateful for the little things someone does for you. Appreciate the efforts they go to in order to support you or your family. It is important to tell each other that you’re grateful for what they’re doing, that you notice something, and you appreciate it. The more you express gratitude for something, the more you find yourself noticing things to express gratitude over. It makes them feel good to hear it and it makes you feel good for showing it, aiding your relationship during lockdown.
Remember, you are not alone. There is someone here to listen to what you’re going through. Look after yourself and look after those around you.