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Family Isolation: How To Stay Sane When In Lockdown With Others
This week, over 1.5 million people in England will be told to self-isolate for the next twelve weeks to protect themselves from the Coronavirus. Similarly, many workplaces, businesses and schools are closing with advice to stay at home for the foreseeable future.
As a result, many couples and families are now spending a great deal of time together than they usually would. What’s more, this is in the relatively small confinements of just their home. This situation can lead to severe cabin fever – causing stress and tension between loved ones. So, how can you stay sane when in lockdown with others?
In this post, I’ll share my top tips for looking after your own mental health, how to work from home with your partner and how to enjoy successful family isolation so you can stay sane when in lockdown.
How To Stay Sane When In Lockdown: Looking After Yourself
Regardless of who you’re in lockdown with, you need to look after your own mental health. In a recent post, I recommended the top ten ways to make the best use of your time while your self-isolating. You can read my top ten tips here.
Other ways you can boost your mental health include;
- Keeping in touch with people outside of your home
- Maintaining a healthy routine that includes periods of relaxation, creativity and self-care
- Try to get as much sunlight and fresh air as possible (even if that’s just sitting in your garden or opening the windows)
- Create a list of realistic goals to achieve for your own personal development and happiness
- Maintain those times of me-time; whether that’s to workout, meditate, journal or practice yoga.
Staying Sane In Lockdown: How To Work From Home With Your Partner
While working from home may be nothing new to you or your partner, working from home together can pose a whole new set of issues. Instead of social distancing, it may be time to implement spousal distancing.
The following tips can help you to stay sane when in lockdown, but still working, with your partner;
Have Your Own Workspace
Each person should have their own, respected and undisturbed working area. In a small home, this can require some creative thinking, but there are lots of ways you can make the most of your space.
A visual barrier can really help to separate a workspace, even if this is just a pile of books. Having this zoning can make sure no one infringes on your private workspace while also working to minimise distractions. Noise-cancelling headphones can also help to ensure you both have the music or quiet that you need to focus.
You can then also create a communal working space, where you can come together if you want to. However, this space shouldn’t be someone’s personal working area.
Share Your Calendar
By sharing your calendar, you can help to ensure your privacy is respected. It also helps to prevent people from wandering through your space when you are on a video call or shouting for your attention when you’re in the middle of a conference.
By understanding each other’s schedule and how both of you prefer to work, you can respect both working situations.
Act Like You Are At Work
From maintaining your morning routine to saying goodbye to each other before you begin work, it can help to maintain your structure of work. It means you can give each other space. You can have lunch together if you want to, but it will still be feasible for you to talk about your day by the evening.
In some situations, you may relish the chance to bounce ideas off each other, but this needs to be mutual. Consider connecting at specific intervals or sending a message or email if you want to chat, so you don’t interrupt your partner when they are in the flow.
Saying thank you and doing nice things for each other can help to keep the kindness flowing. This can be vital for easing the inevitable stresses and tensions that may arise from being in such close proximity for such a long period of time.
Signal The End Of The Working Day
Whether it is showering, changing clothes or tidying away all of your work equipment, there should be a clear signal that you workday has finished, and you are shifting back into family life. This shift can help both of you to mentally switch off from work and put you in the ‘relaxed’ mindset. You can then come together as a couple as you normally would, without feeling like you’ve been getting under their feet all day.
How To Stay Sane When In Lockdown With Your Family
For adults and children, isolation can impact on three main components of mental health. These include;
- A sense of autonomy – not being able to do as you would like
- Connectedness to others – missing friends and social interaction
- Feeling effective – that you have no purpose.
Consequently, it is important to put in place measures that help to combat these three aspects. This includes;
Creating A Family Contract
If parents still have to work and children have to study, it is vital to draw up a contract which shares the roles, chores and things people can do to benefit others. This could be that the kids promise not to disturb their parents when they are on the phone. Parents may wish to draw up a rota of when they will look after children individually, so the other person has time to work or a chance to practice self-care.
Build A Flexible Structure
During periods of uncertainty, it is impossible to maintain a strict routine as feelings can change and plans get in the way. However, creating a loose structure which includes set mealtimes, activity sessions, work periods for parents and times when children need to study and when they can play can help to create a sense of normality.
Scheduling events such as cooking together, film nights and games afternoons can help to keep fun, family interaction. Tackling long avoided tasks such as clearing out wardrobes and toy boxes can also help to give this period a sense of accomplishment.
Prioritise Movement And Exercise
Physical activity can help to boost moods, stave off boredom and reduce anxiety. What’s more, you can be really creative with the exercises you do and complete them as a family. Schedule micro-sessions for movement throughout the day. This could include jumping jacks, dancing around the living room or completing an obstacle course in the garden.
Ensuring regular breaks for exercise can help everyone to release any tension they may have and maintain their energy levels throughout the day.
During this unusual time, it can be really helpful for everyone to be able to document and understand their experiences and feelings during this time. Journaling gives adults and kids a chance to unburden themselves of the strange thoughts and emotions that they may have during an extraordinary situation and help them to make sense of it all.
Instead of journaling, some people just need to have their own space to process what they are going through. Remember, time together can be intensive – like Christmas without the joy, build-up and presents – so respecting each other’s space is important.
Staying Sane In Isolation
If Coronavirus has caused your anxiety levels to rise, then don’t forget to sign up for my free Coronavirus Anxiety program. Furthermore, I’m also offering online therapy through Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp if your mental health needs extra support during this time. My online therapy is also there if you just want to use this time to get rid of any demons that are holding you back. Book your first free consultation today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.