The coronavirus has changed our lives. With change comes stress. A big adjustment we’re dealing with is the additional stress on our relationships.
Some couples are adapting and flourishing under this new stress, while others are coming undone as underlying issues are pushed to the forefront of the relationship while remaining unresolved.
So how do we cope with the added stress and the confinement?
Stress management is critical
Surviving the relationship stress of coronavirus is a process. Identifying what factors are adding pressure to your relationship is a significant step in that process.
Change breeds stress. A lot of this stress comes from the new circumstance of being confined to your house. Talk about this with your partner. Acknowledge the ways you’re each dealing with the situation.
There isn’t one right way to deal with stress, so if you and your partner are handling the strain differently, that doesn’t make one of you wrong.
Articulate your feelings
Use your words to talk about your feelings, worries, and fears. “I’m stressed” isn’t helpful when everyone is constantly feeling stress, but articulating what’s causing you stress, or what emotion is manifesting that pressure can be a useful release for you and your partner.
Here are some examples of how to talk about your stress in a useful way:
- “I’m anxious because I’m afraid of getting sick, and I’m worried about my family getting sick.”
- “I’m afraid we won’t have enough money to pay for food.”
- “I’m concerned about not having enough work, and I’m worried I won’t have work in the future either.”
- “I’m uncertain because things are so different, and the change is uncomfortable.”
Keep an open mind. Almost everything about our day-to-day lives has changed, so the standards by which we measure things have to adjust as well. Be supportive of your partner, and remember to approach this as a unified team. You’re in this together, so make an effort to tackle it together.
Use laughter to defuse tension
Laugh. It’s so simple, it’s easy to overlook, but humour is a great way to ease tension.
In the wake of uncertainty and crisis, laughter can defuse conflict, and it’s essential to continue experiencing pleasure, especially in times when it is difficult to find. If something makes you laugh, share it with your partner. Laughing together reduces the negativity as a shared experience.
Check in with loved ones
Of course, in this time of isolation, we’re all stressed and worried about the people who are important to us. Checking in regularly with loved ones is an easy way to reduce that stress and surround yourself with people who will promote positive emotions.
Check-ins also provide the opportunity to make sure others in your life are okay amid this high-stress situation. It’s essential to do this with the people you’re distanced from right now, but it’s also important to check-in with your partner.
There are a lot of new stress factors in the wake of coronavirus, but reducing the stress in your relationship will have a considerable impact on how you navigate through this crisis and manage the other stressful factors in your life.
Self-reflection and prioritising what’s important
Once you’ve managed your stress (well done, that’s a huge accomplishment!), then you can turn your focus from external factors to internal ones. Couples flourishing in isolation are spending time self-reflecting and being aware of positive things in their lives.
With everything in our daily lives changed, it’s an opportunity to reflect on what you miss and what you don’t. Thinking about why you miss the things you do is also essential. Many people and couples are finding that their lives were full of things that held no value for them. With the forced absence of so much, we can turn our attention to the things that matter to us.
To identify vital things, you have to be able to reflect on who you are as a person. Reflect on your life, both individually and as a couple. This reflection is an excellent opportunity to develop yourself as a person and to work on personal growth. Once you have a clear idea of who you are and what’s significant to you, you can prioritise those things in your life.
Don’t be surprised if the way you had things prioritised in your life isn’t the same as how you want to prioritise them now. Growth begets change, but unlike the change put upon you by the coronavirus, you have control over how your personal growth affects your life.
Look to the future
You’ve managed the stress. You’ve reflected on what’s important to you and shifted the things you want to prioritise in your life. Now you get to look forward to the future.
Maybe you’ve decided you want to spend more time with your family and less time at the office, or that you want to save up for a new cultural experience instead of a fancy car. Whichever way you’ve decided to reprioritise things in your life, there’s an exciting journey waiting for you at the end of this period of isolation.
Amid all the uncertainty the future holds, there are things that you’ll have control over, and implementing the items you want to prioritise in your life is one of them. Having something positive to focus on and look forward to in the future is an excellent way to manage stress about future uncertainty.
I was recently interviewed for “Cuppa with Kumi” on the ABC TV Instagram Live Channel to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting love and relationships.
Watch the replay of the Instagram Live below.
There’s no doubt that Coronavirus has put a lot of extra stress on our relationships, as with everything else in our lives. Managing that stress is imperative to maintaining a positive and healthy relationship.
Couples who are having the most success navigating this pandemic are taking this a step further and making time for reflection and collecting the positive things in their lives. Having a positive change to look forward to in a future of uncertainty helps keep a positive attitude.