We have been in lockdown now for a good few weeks in response to the COVID 19 virus, and different countries have dealt with it in different ways. Travel restrictions, working from home and closed schools are some of the challenges many of us have had to face and it has meant families are now ‘bunked’ in together – whether we are happy about it or not!!! What has this meant for you?
Some have taken the opportunity to press pause on what has been a fast-paced and at times, adrenaline-fuelled lifestyle and diary, to re-group and re-connect with ourselves and family and re-visit tasks we have wanted to do for a long time – get on top of that lovely ‘to-do’ list and kick procrastination out of the door. There has been a sense of space and working together to find smart ways to do things. In other areas, community response can be seen and felt as generated from fear, inducing a level of anxiety and stress because we don’t have the level of freedom we once had, fear of catching the disease from each other, and anxiety from not having access to the stress-relieving strategies that might once have been our go-to, such as sports centres, shops, cinemas, gyms, restaurants. With these all closing and no gatherings of more than two people – I mean hello – what is left?!!!
There is also fear of how the lockdown will impact our jobs, our capacity to earn enough money to survive and even if we will have enough food for our families, these are all very real concerns and will contribute to the soup of thoughts that are seemingly going around in our head. Often perception of things, people and events are then influenced by that soup.
So, when we have all family members sharing a confined space together, and if, for example, you have some of this stress from fear and anxiety going on, then making decisions, interacting and communications are understandably affected and as a result, relationships in the home can be fraught.
We haven’t all been taught the necessary skills to deal with such situations, and therefore, many of us feel we don’t necessarily have all the tools at hand to cope with lock-down. It’s a new, and for most of us, an unusual experience. So what can we do to help ourselves in this exposing and potentially vulnerable time?
Allowing yourself to feel vulnerable and appreciating what skills we do have is step no.1. Vulnerability comes from feeling that there are things you cannot control, or change and this requires a level of surrender that can induce high anxiety to paralytic fear. In this situation, there is no question that our choices have been changed and that we cannot control the outcome. However, we do have an opportunity to consider our perspective and how we approach that loss of control.
Perspective comes with observation and understanding of ourselves and each other. Taking a step back to reflect on and see that which we have been so conditioned by, allows us to see things from a different perspective. For example, some have taken lockdown as an opportunity to reflect, consider, re-evaluate if the way they have lived so far has worked for them as a family, or if there is an opportunity to lay a more connected and loving foundation in the family home. Others have retreated to their bedrooms or own spaces by feeling too confronted to deal with everything that has come up or taking the opportunity to take the dog for five walks a day!
Allowing space with agreed boundaries. The practical step is communicating what is important to each other so there is a better understanding should someone react to a situation. It becomes more about consideration for what values are important, not just for ourselves, but also for each other – again an important life skill at any age. You don’t have to agree – you just have a responsibility to listen to each another
Appreciating the process to bring understanding. If we can appreciate the process we are going through and how we are dealing with it, we can bring understanding to it, and be more open and transparent. We are then starting to look at things from different peoples’ perspective. For children, this sometimes needs to be a learnt behaviour and this is a great opportunity to model the behaviour of how that is done. An example of this is sitting at the dinner table and debriefing the day and then asking for each persons’ perspective on what they have enjoyed or not enjoyed about the process and practicing listening to each other without interruption.
Obviously, you do not have to do anything. Yet perhaps by choosing to not bring more appreciation or implement some of the processes above, then being critical ‘picking’, on each other, ‘nagging’, making assumptions, will start to dominate in the home environment and this may build a tension that can actually end up confirming your bedroom is the safest place to be.
In summary, we don’t need to be all powerful and strong and wear a shield of protection all the time, even in front of the children. As we appreciate ourselves and admit the stress and possible fear we are in, or have been in, it allows space for it to dissipate. This allows endless possibilities of ways to bring greater degrees of honesty to our conversations and harmony in the home.
Lockdown need not drive us, or the dog, crazy!
Further reading How a spec on the wall becomes a super giant monster