Families, friends, and roommates are suddenly finding themselves in close proximity with loved ones for much longer than anyone expected. The best relationships are stressful under the best of circumstances. These are not those circumstances.
People are worried about their health, their livelihoods, and their lives. Work and home worlds are colliding. These are difficult times that are stressing marriages, friendships, and more. We’re all doing our best to flatten the curve so more of us survive this pandemic, but there are some things we can do better if we want our relationships with our spouses, children, parents, friends, and loved ones to survive too.
Holding on to hurt feelings, crossed boundaries, and discomfort is just a recipe for resentment that breaks free later, sometimes with disastrous results. Now is the time to open up, be sincere, and share what’s in your heart. Strong relationships are built on trust, give and take, and real emotions. Hiding things doesn’t help anything.
Part of talking is listening. Active listening means you do more than just hear the other person. You take in what they’re saying, mull it over, try to see things from their point of view, and only then respond with that cultured empathy. Remember that the other person is someone you care about and treat them as such.
There is nothing so frustrating as a sense of unfairness. It creates a wedge in the middle of any relationship. Now is the time to share the good and the bad as equally as possible. Share the chores, the workload, the weight of the world’s changes, and your time. Be kind and fair with your comments too.
Extreme emotions, exaggerations, accusations, and old complaints are a sure-fire way to deal damage to your relationships. They hurt feelings and add complications to any compromise or resolution. Anger has a place in your pantheon of emotions, but must be controlled and directed properly. It is rarely helpful when talking with someone you love, especially when directed at that person. Let your anger cool off before you confront someone you care about. Channel it into productive things like projects, exercise, or artistic expression.
Open a Window
Let the fresh air and sunshine in, and the pent-up air out. Many of us aren’t showering enough, but air gets stale even if you are. Open the blinds, crack a window, slide open that door. Fresh air and sunshine improve mood, sleep, and headaches, while also helping kill unwanted microbes in your home. You’re less likely to snip at one another if it smells better too.
Even better than cracking a window, go enjoy the great outdoors. You can social distance while you walk, hike, bike, or frolic through a field. Get rid of the stress, anxiety, and wiggles. Just stay safe by wearing masks if you have them and avoiding people. It’s great for kids and adults getting antsy inside. Your relationships will thank you.
Everyone is used to having some alone time. We normally get it in at work, out with friends, at school, or exploring our hobbies. Make sure you still manage some alone time. Make sure your family gets some too. Create a quiet room, build a fort for the kids to hide out in, set aside the patio for those who need it, pitch a tent outside as a reading room, or even take a long shower. All your loved ones deserve some alone time.
Do Something Together
Together time is just as important as alone time. Watch a movie, cook a meal, play a game, or put together a puzzle as a couple, family, or close-knit friends. Enjoy each other’s company, laugh, play, and let go of the stress.
Do Your Own Thing
Your individuality may feel under fire at the moment. You also need to prioritize some things that you love to do alone. This isn’t the same as having space, as this can be done in the same room as others, while they focus on their own things. Explore a hobby, learn a new skill, or delve into the things that have always given you joy, like a good book or silly videos on the internet.
Meditation is a wonderful tool to release stress, improve your mood, and find solid ground in the middle of these unstable times. Do it together or on your own. Either will improve your relationships. Practice breathing exercises, simply breathing deeply while focusing on the movement of the air, anytime you’re feeling angry, annoyed, or upset too. It helps cool things off so you can talk openly and fairly. Matcha helps with focus and concentration with mood elevating L-Theanine.
Our bodies are designed to deal with stressful situations with fight or flight, but there’s no way to fight or flee from isolating indoors with our loved ones. The stress hormones just build and build. Exercise mimics fight or flight, breaks that pattern, decreases those hormones, and releases endorphins. It doesn’t take a marathon. You’ll be surprised what twenty jumping jacks will do. It also helps kids with all their bound-up energy. Our Matcha Energy or Black Ginger Matcha are both good additions to any exercise for speeding up metabolism, boosting energy, enhancing mood, and bolstering recovery.
It’s easy to let things degrade into negativity. Our brains are wired to go negative as a survival tactic. It’s why clickbait and terrible news stories are so addictive. Don’t do it when dealing with loved ones. Don’t let it creep into the way you talk to yourself or anyone else. It just drives everything down. Keep thing positive. There truly is a silver lining and a glass half full to everything. Do the work to find it.
Despite all the positivity you’re cultivating, there are healthy boundaries to maintain. Don’t stand for unfair shouldering of responsibilities, mean-spirited accusations, gaslighting, or overly critical comments. It isn’t okay. Calmly explain your boundaries, talk through them, and compromise only if the other person or persons will meet you partway where you feel comfortable. There is no room in any relationship for verbal or physical abuse though. Get out or call the authorities, if necessary. This time in isolation can bring the worst out of abusers. Don’t allow it.
Forgive the small things, the petty squabbles, the annoyances, and even a few large missteps as fast as possible. That nose whistle may drive you crazy, but it isn’t worth ending a relationship over. The more you forgive, the more your loved ones will forgive you for the little things too.
A Nice Surprise
Do something special for your loved ones. It doesn’t have to be rose petals and chocolates. Sometimes just a handwritten note, a picnic in the back yard, a fresh baked cookie, or a favorite activity. This is where listening is a huge blessing. It helps if you know what would really make someone happy. Nothing solidifies a relationship like consideration.
Clean the Clutter
A clean home helps keep the stress away. Clutter makes the isolation more claustrophobic. Get everyone involved and get that place organized. Relationships grow out of the environment, so make sure your environment is one that fosters growth.