Tips To Ease the Strain Caused from Corona virus-Related Anxiety
| Onkareshwar Pandey - Editor in Chief - CEO, IOP - 10 Jun 2020

RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN & BEYOND: TURNING ‘BREAK’ INTO ‘MAKE’

Coronavirus-related anxiety is real and causing serious damage to our partnerships. The strain that the coronavirus is putting on our lives is immense. And it is affecting most relationships in some way. Two experts - Ms. Vindhya V Rai, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Abhaya Hospital, Bengaluru and Dr. Debanjan Banerjee, Psychiatrist, NIMHANS, Bengaluru are giving some tips to ease the strain caused from Corona virus-Related Anxiety.

 

By VINDHYA V RAI, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Abhaya Hospital, Bengaluru

And Dr. DEBANJAN BANERJEE, Psychiatrist, NIMHANS, Bengaluru

Bengaluru, June 11, 2020:

As a licensed psychotherapist specializing in couple’s therapy, I’ve received many emails and calls in the past few weeks from concerned people worrying that their relationships were not going to make it. This is all the more concerning now as people are stranded with their families together for such long durations: for some, for the first time in their lives. Physical proximity can be a double-edged sword: it can mend or strain relationships!

It makes perfect sense to be struggling in your relationship now. We’re stuck inside our homes, forced to spend more time together than ever before. We’re relying on a partner for almost all of our social support because we can’t see our friends or relatives.

We’re balancing new responsibilities like working from home and working for home (child care or housekeeping). It’s undoubtedly a lot of change all at once. At the same time, some people feel guilty acknowledging their relationship woes because it seems as if there are much bigger issues to worry about.

It’s OK to acknowledge the ways your relationship is being affected by the coronavirus crisis. Try these tips for supporting your relationship during these tough times.

First, take care of yourself

Nurturing your relationship has to start with nurturing yourself. It’s simply too much to expect your partner to be your sole source of stress relief. Here are some of my favorite forms of self-care:

  • Allow yourself to feel your feelings. What we resist persists. When we give ourselves permission to feel the full range of our emotions, and validate that what we’re feeling makes sense, emotions dissipate much faster.
  • Journal. Spend five to 10 minutes every day writing freeform.
  • Meditate. This is one of the absolute best things you can do for your mental health.
  • Move your body. The endorphin rush you get from exercise can be invaluable for managing stress, improving your mood and even boosting your immunity. If you can safely go outside while you exercise, that’s even better.
  • Seek other sources of connection. Reach out to friends and relatives, without your partner by your side.

Make a plan

Sit down with your partner to discuss everything that’s on your plate, and make a plan for how you’re going to handle it as a team. Create a shared calendar with all of your tasks and responsibilities, and carve out specific times for when you’re going to do them.

I recommend having a brief weekly meeting every Sunday to anticipate the week ahead —  schedule and map out as much as you can. I also recommend a quick meeting at the end of each day to discuss the plan for the next day. There are so many things that we can’t control now, but it can feel soothing to have a plan for the things that are in our  ontrol.

Check in with each other daily

Planning for the next day is one thing, but it is also important to remember that your partner is not a robot and probably experiencing the same range of emotions that you are. It can be useful to stop and ask each other questions like:

  • “What was your day like today?”
  • “What sorts of feelings are coming up for you right now?”
  • “Are there any ways I can support you or be a better partner to you?”

The ‘precious’ time spent together

You’re probably spending more time together than ever before. As much as you love your partner, this can quickly lead to tension and frustration. Set some healthy boundaries:

  • If you’re both working from home, carve out separate work spaces. If you can close a door between the two of you, that’s ideal.
  • Try to give each other space during the day. If you can, limit your verbal communication. Try texting instead.
  • It’s normal to need alone time. Be creative about how you can carve out that time. For example, maybe you can trade off taking the morning shift with the children so you give each other the chance to lie in bed alone for a few precious moments.
  • Be creative with date nights. Sticking to (or starting) a date night tradition can bring some much-needed joy and anticipation into your relationship. Try visiting a museum online, reading a book to each other or cooking an elaborate meal together.

Practice appreciation and gratitude

These next few weeks and months are going to be a challenge for everyone. None of us are going to be perfect partners. Do your best and thank each other for being willing to make an effort. Tell your partner: “I see all the work you’ve been doing. Thank you.” As challenging as everything is at this time, there’s also a lot to be grateful for.

Try to share a few things you’re grateful for every few days. The more gratitude you express, the more often you’ll find yourself noticing little moments to appreciate. And we could all use more of those now.

‘No tolerance’ to abuse

The lockdown subsequent to COVID-19 has led to immense change of various relationship dynamics. Various families have been separated, or on the other hand, got entrapped for prolonged periods like never before.

At certain times, the couples have got segregated from their joint families. In any case, the American Bar Association as well as the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported increase in incidence of interpersonal violence and elder abuse.

Women are mostly the victims of intimate partner violence (IPV), either through acts of omission or commission. Abuse can be in various forms: financial exploitation, impairing the autonomy to work from home, neglect, lack of care, sexual coercion to frank physical violence.

The normalization by families, legal hassles involved and societal apathy has adjusted domestic violence to a large extent, for which is gets under-reported and action is not taken in most cases. Especially in families with pre-existing marital discord, alcoholism, disharmony and abusive relationship, violence can increase during the entrapped period of lockdown.

At certain times, it becomes a vicious cycle with a difficult victim-perpetrator relationship, which can increase trauma, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and even forma potent risk factor for suicide. Tolerance of abuse increases it!

The legal authorities and all other levels of stakeholders need to be trained to identify abuse/violence and take prompt steps to deal with it. Legal ease of reporting makes it easier for the victims to seek help.

Also appropriate mental health care and rehabilitation measures are needed for victims of chronic abuse. Families need to understand that these unprecedented situations can often lead to “cries behind closed doors”, which if neglected, can have catastrophic consequences for the victims.

Communication and mutual respect are the keys to prevent abuse in couples, and professional help can always be sought for discord. The National COVID-19 helplines can be integrated with child, women and elder helplines for ease of prevention and identification of abuse and intimate partner violence.

COVID-19 has given us a ‘me’ time, that has been long due! Won’t it be best to use it to our benefit: reviving lost love, mending strained relationships and nurturing forgotten habits together.

We humans are amazingly resilient and hope works best when mutual. Let us use this opportunity to build and grow ourselves, strengthening our bonds and easing our communication: assets that will go much beyond the pandemic scare. Isn’t life much beyond just an illness!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Indian Observer Post and Indian Observer Post does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Representational Image Courtesy – Google

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(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANI. http://bit.ly/2mh7hih Email - SMS- 9910150119)


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