The Impact of Social Distancing & The Covid-19 Outbreak
Millions of Americans woke up to a new reality on Monday morning. With schools and businesses shut down to help promote ‘social distancing,’ many couples are finding themselves spending more time alone together than they have since their honeymoon. But, this time around, it’s not all mai-tais and makeout sessions.
The shutdown is begging a very important question: Can your marriage survive a quarantine? *Check me out on Good Morning America discussing this very topic!*
Not only are you stuck together 24-7 without being able to go to work, social engagements or your Pilates studio, but you are also dealing with unparalleled fear.
And we all process this fear differently. You might be really panicked, while your partner is more casual about the COVID-19 crisis. It’s so easy to read their calmness as flippancy, and to take it as a personal affront. Alternatively, a person who is very stressed and cannot stop consuming coronavirus news will also cause frustration in the home, as their partner might have reached a threshold where they can no longer hear about the possible tragic outcomes.
So, how can you safeguard your bond during quarantine?
Create guidelines for COVID-19 conversations. Instead of talking about coronavirus all day or constantly texting each other heated updates or news headlines, agree to a set time of day when you will discuss the pandemic. Have 30 minutes to an hour where discuss news, travel plans, concerns about family, worries over bills, and anything else on your mind involving the crisis. This will keep you from straining your relationship with nonstop COVID-19 talk and possible political disagreements.
Set up separate areas. Even if you live in a small apartment, you can carve out a little area that is yours and yours alone, even if it means throwing a few pillows on the floor and making an adult version of a fort. Make it your cozy retreat where you can have solo time to meditate, journal, read, or talk to friends virtually or on the phone. Explain to your partner that your need for privacy is not out of a lack of love, but because you deeply respect your relationship and want to serve it by establishing healthy boundaries.
See the silver lining. Yes, you’re on lockdown, but look at it this way: You finally have the time and opportunity to prioritize physical connection with your partner. Sure, the kids may be home too, but pop on a Disney movie, lock the bedroom room, and make the most of this quarantine.
Get outside. You can honor the social quarantine by taking a walk outdoors, while still maintaining the advised 6 feet of distance between you and anyone you pass by. A solo walk around the block for just 10-15 minutes can do wonders for your mind and body. You can go for a walk together as well, but perhaps consider simply enjoying the silence and the sounds of nature instead of chatting the whole time.
Keep your date night. Being quarantined at home shouldn’t just be about avoiding each other. Take this time as an invitation from your universe to reconnect with your partner. Sure, you can’t go out to dinner, but you can pick up takeout or make a special meal at home. Light some candles, get dressed up, put on your favorite perfume. Make it something to celebrate.”
Create a routine. If you spend all day in your sweats or just eating cookies from the pantry instead of sticking to mealtimes, you’re going to find yourself grouchy, tired, and out of sorts, all of which will make you more likely to snap at your partner. Keep setting your alarm. Keep showering and getting dressed. Keep sticking to your regular mealtimes and performing your daily chores. It’s going to be hard, especially if you’re feeling anxious, sad, or even angry about the current situation, but these are things in your power. Focus your energy on what you can change and surrender to the rest.
And, for those of you with kids, here are some ideas for promoting mental and physical health for your whole family:
Make a schedule. Most of us are carving out time for our kids’ online schooling, but make sure you also build in time for art and music, along with ‘free choice’ activities offering open-ended play and creative exercises. Think puzzles, board games, family yoga, hikes, even learning a hip hop dance!
Embrace the kitchen. Watch YouTube videos or the cooking channel and get kids baking, chopping, and dicing. It’s a great learning experience and will help ensure you stick to regular mealtimes and focus on nutrition.
Establish a family cause. Have a family meeting in which you discuss areas of your community that might need your help during this difficult time. Then organize your efforts as a family unit to offer your assistance. This could mean offering to drop groceries off to elderly relatives, bringing blankets and other needed items to an animal shelter, or sending cards to people in the hospital.
Have daily projects. Along with regular household and school duties, have a daily project you tackle each day as a family. Maybe you clean out the toy chest and find items to donate, or pack up winter clothes and boots. Maybe you finally paint the family room or reorganize the den so there’s more space to play. You’re stuck at home, make the most of it!