Under Lockdown: Cope with Tension in Your Relationship
It is easy to imagine that frustrations, tensions and arguments in households are common problems during COVID-19. As we spend most of our time in one space with a loved one, disagreements, annoyance and frustrations are bound to happen. Normalize this experience for yourself. If the tension becomes too overwhelming, create a code word with your partner. This strategy will help you to communicate effectively before someone says something they might regret. Ask your partner what they need to sooth. Is it a hug? Deep breath? Verbal reassurance? Distraction? Space? Do not assume that what you need to sooth yourself, is what your partner needs. How we cope and regulate is most often dependent on our attachments, personalities, knowledge of our bodies, anxious tendencies and may be quite diverse. If you are in a healthy relationship, it may feel at times that because you are trapped by COVID-19, you are also trapped by your relationship. These are two separate constructs and it’s a distortion to think they are one and the same, so, remind yourself to distinguish between the two.
What is a distress test? Creating a distress test for yourself (from 0 to 10) means evaluating your mental stress in the morning and before going to bed. How is your Anxiety level? Calm level? Playful level? Humor level? Focus level? Having a mental baseline will help to navigate your mood throughout your day. If you know you are feeling nervousness, that is a 7/10, you can plan your day to accommodate yourself and essentially attend to your anxious feelings. You may communicate your distress level with those around you in order to let others know what you are, or are not capable of delivering emotionally. This creates an opportunity to also be validated by others. You can take things a step further, and converse about your distress level. This back and forth transparency is what we hope to all experience in our intimate moments and everyday talks.
As we all navigate ourselves through these challenging times, communication and patience with ourselves continues to be our golden ticket in surviving the emotional burdens of this pandemic. Don’t forget to connect with others, with yourself, and give yourself permission to set boundaries if you need to.
Disclaimer: If you feel threatened, in danger or harmed by another person, please refer to mental health resources listed in the resources page or call your local emergency department.
Take care and be well,
Armita Hosseini, M.Ed., M.A., C.Psych. Assoc. (Supervised Practice)