10 Tips For Surviving Self-Isolation With Your Spouse
You've found someone wonderful and decide to spend the rest of your lives together. Maybe you're married, maybe not. Maybe you have children together, maybe you're empty nesters, or maybe you're a couple of D.I.N.K.s (dual income no kids!).
Then a global crisis hits and you're stuck with this person, inside your house, probably not working, for an unknown length of time...
Quarantine, self-isolation, global pandemic, state of emergency, businesses closing, lay-offs, etc. are all adding stress to your life. Stress usually leads to conflict.
So, how to mitigate this situation and come out on top? Try implementing these ten tips to make your days (all 24 hours of them!) at home a little more calm and manageable.
1. Limit how often you check the news and social media.
There is a lot of information swirling around out there and with social media misinformation can often be found among it. An overload of information with the added uncertainty of its credibility can lead to panic. If the crisis is all you talk about at home, you will live your quarantine in crisis mode. Instead, find one or two reliable sources that update daily and follow them. In British Columbia I follow Dr. Bonnie Henry, the B.C. Provincial Health Officer, and The Public Health Agency of Canada. THAT'S IT! You can also choose from the Center for Disease Control, your provincial or regional health authority, or a number of other amazing doctors working on this pandemic. Then choose a time of day or what days that week that you will update yourself. Choose a time that you can focus and have the mental capacity to read or watch the update in its entirety. Don't miss vital information that could reduce your stress because your toddler was throwing a tantrum.
2. Ask permission before starting an important conversation.
For conversations with difficult topics it is important that both people are prepared and have the mental capacity to engage in the conversation. A simple "Such-and-such is on my mind, is now a good time to talk about it?" goes a long way! If they say no, respect that and ask to talk about it later (be specific though, ex. "after dinner").
-It lets the other person know what the topic is so they know what to expect.
-It sets the tone for a respectful conversation.
-It starts an expectation that important conversations need to happen right away instead of being ignored.
3. Stay connected to other people virtually.
Humans are social beings, and we are conditioned to the immediate socialization that texting and social media has brought us. Staying cooped up with the same person for too long, you're bound to get on each other's nerves. Staying connected with your friends and family outside of your home will help to ease the need for social connection.
4. Set a simple routine and stick to it.
You are used to your routine of going to work or managing your household (which usually involves leaving the house for any number of activities or chores) and that has been completely flipped upside down. Set up a general routine for example, to wake up at your usual time (maybe an hour to sleep in if the kiddos allow it!), make breakfast, get some exercise, work on a project, lunch, quiet time, get outside (with safe social distancing!), dinner, family time, bed. Keep purpose in your day!
5. Get outside.
Self-isolating does not mean that you are stuck within the walls of your home. Utilize your balcony/porch/yard and get outside. If your community allows it, go for a walk. Drive out to somewhere a little further than you would normally go and explore. Go out with your family or go out by yourself, either way it will help ease your tension at home.
6. Take time to yourself.
Just because you are in the same space most of the time does not mean you need to interact always. Take some quiet time for yourself to recharge or do something you enjoy that the other person may not want to participate in.
7. Stay healthy.
Eat well balanced meals, exercise, and get a good nights sleep. When our bodies are healthy it is easier to keep our emotions stable. When our emotions are stable we can have challenging conversations more productively.
8. Find the opportunity in the chaos.
Take this time to finally learn a new language, take a free course online (Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, etc. are offering many courses online for free right now!), deep clean the house, fix that thing you keep meaning to get around to, paint the deck, whatever it is find the opportunity in the chaos.
9. Have fun.
Take this time to really connect with your family. Have more family game nights or movie nights, spend one on one time with each one of them, etc. Number eight and nine are really about not coming to the end of this and regretting any wasted time.
10. Above all else, give yourselves a break!
Now is not the time to turn into a rock star homeschooling mom or dad, especially in the beginning. There is no need to ADD stress to this situation. A few weeks off will not cause your children to fall behind. When it extends beyond that then you can look into starting some homeschooling, but still make it fun and more relaxed. Give yourselves a break in all other parts of your life too. You don't have to exercise every day, chips can be a perfectly acceptable lunch now and then, and if stress gets the better of you once or twice it is usually something that you can learn and grow from.
Stay safe. Stay sane. Stay healthy. Stay at home (and a safe distance from others).