Unprecedented times have called for us to stay at home for much longer than we had ever expected. In fact, the thought of spending so much time at home instead of at our other responsibilities—our jobs, schooling, volunteering, or even caretaking—had seemed like an impossible dream. Now, however, it is our new normal.
While this seemed like a much-needed respite for many busy individuals, people have quickly come to realize that socially distancing from others by staying at home comes with its own caveats. Apart from cabin fever or going stir-crazy, being constantly exposed to the same people day-in and out can cause tension and conflict. For some people, home isn’t a viable solution to isolate in, as they may have an unstable or violent living situation.
Here are five ways to help prevent household conflict when socially distancing together:
It can be difficult to navigate dynamics under a global pandemic. The stress of keeping safe from the virus while managing duties at home can make it even more difficult to learn how to deal with emotional triggers.
However, prioritizing open and respectful communication with yourself and your household members can help minimize conflict and tension. While there may be hiccups that naturally come with spending even more time together, remember that no one knows how to conduct themselves during such extraordinary situations. You’ll both be figuring it out along the way.
Instead of immediately resorting to scolding or passive-aggression if your family member or roommate upsets you, gather yourself first so you can arrange your thoughts. Then, communicate with that member honestly but graciously. You’ll also be setting an example for them in how to resolve conflicts, which will help everyone in the household get along much better.
Sharing a confined space with someone often means that you’ll have to cooperate to respect each other’s space. It also means that you’ll have to be on the lookout for each other’s health in case one of you begin exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Establish protocol with all members of your living space in case of health issues. That way, you won’t have to cross over to their isolation room in case you need something and you can also keep yourself safe. You’ll also be able to establish chore assignments and emergency measures in case one of you falls sick.
Additionally, setting boundaries for shared spaces is also important in preventing conflict during isolation. It might help to set schedules for each of you to use rooms like the kitchen, the living room, and the bathroom so you can help plan your day better and avoid clashing.
Being Kind to Yourself
There was a lot of pressure online for individuals to gain a new skill or continue working on themselves during the height of the lockdown. However, during a pandemic, the only thing required of you is to survive—and that’s it.
Do not force yourself to take a class in something completely new just so you can consider yourself productive. It’s incredibly unfair to expect yourself to behave the same way you did prior to the global crisis because, quite frankly, things are no longer the same as they were. Be kinder to yourself, whether that’s spending more time in bed resting, doing hobbies you love, or even working if it’s something that genuinely brings you joy.
Taking Time for Yourself
If you are caring for children, it’s also important to take time for yourself. While this may not be completely feasible during self-isolation, even just a few minutes of alone time will help you recharge from looking after your kids. For example, put on a child-friendly movie for them so you can squeeze in a quick nap. You can even take a shower that’s just a few minutes longer.
Don’t spend every waking moment on your children—you may end up burning yourself up and succumbing to anxiety, which will make childcare even more difficult. However, even without children, you still deserve to rest.
Reach Out for Help
For those living in volatile conditions, it can be even more difficult to learn how to handle emotional triggers in relationships—especially with those in your home. Make sure you have a safety plan and that it’s something you can carry out even during shelter-in-place circumstances.
Additionally, do not hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to trusted family members and friends and let them know of your plan so that they can assist you. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for more guidance, especially if the violence at home is escalating.
These tips can help reduce conflict and anxiety, especially when living with other people while sheltering in place. However, it’s important to remember that conflict is completely normal and inevitable in relationships. They are also opportunities to build stronger relationships with each other and to understand how we work—remember that most people react to conflict out of fear or anger and that we are all doing the best we can to cope with difficult times.
If you’re looking for help in learning how to manage your triggers, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Emote. We connect you with top-qualified mental health professionals in the US, giving you access to therapy at an affordable cost. Get started today to get your first week with us for only $10!