“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine 1776
Being together in a limited space for a long period of time – no one knows how long – has little appeal for anyone. Marriages that are already struggling will be challenged the most. John Gottman would say that a couple needs five positive interactions for every negative interaction. Now more than ever this is the case, but harder to achieve.
Couples do better if they have a frank discussion about what their fears, anxieties , and stressors are – listen and show empathy. Money is a major conflict point in many marriages. For couples who have lost income, this is going to be a huge source of anxiety and disagreement.
Couples with children out of school who they are now homeschooling add more stress. If the couple is also working remotely to maintain their jobs they may be attempting to set up a home office, create a private space, and work with kids in the house. They do not need to look for ways to fill the time. Children will be cranky at some point and will need to be entertained and distracted. Teenagers and college kids who have been sent home for the duration of the semester are in the mix, too.
Here are some anxiety reducing strategies for individuals, couples, and families:
- Limit exposure to media
- Find a trustworthy source of information – The World Health Organization, The Centers for Disease Control
- Learn and practice meditation, yoga, tapping
- Get enough sleep
- Make an exercise plan
- Keep in touch with family and friends – adults can have Skype cocktail hour, kids can have Skype play dates
- Go outside
- Get in your car and go somewhere. You don’t have to get out of the car. Park in the Quarter and look at the buildings. Park on the lakefront and watch the boats.
- Go to City Park. There you can get out of your car – there is plenty of space for social distancing. I am reporting from my visit there this morning. There were people in the park – enough that you will feel safe, but not so many that you are crowded. There was group doing Tai Chi, joggers, cyclists, families with small children, people just sitting by the water. People were friendly, but keeping their distance. The scene was peaceful, communal, and encouraging.