Love and lockdown: how to maintain healthy relationships

The coronavirus lockdown has put huge pressures on all aspects of our lives – from careers and school, to hobbies and friendships. If you’re living at home with others, you’re probably beginning to feel added pressure and strain, and maintaining healthy relationships during lockdown can feel challenging.

While for some, it may be a rare opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones, the reality for many is that it’s far from ideal. Many families are juggling working from home, with childcare or school education. It’s normal that pressures can build up and tensions can flare. To help, we’ve teamed up with Julia Sinclair-Brown, a life coach and founder of Evolvida.

Here, Julia explains the strategies you can use at home to help maintain healthy relationships with loved ones during lockdown.

Look after yourself

While it’s easy to end up taking care of everyone else all the time, it’s important to look after yourself with a little bit of ‘me-time’ each day.

“I liken this to the instructions you’d receive on an aircraft,” explains Julia. “We’re told, in an emergency, to fit our own oxygen mask before helping others, and we can use this analogy in our everyday lives too.”

Spending a few moments to yourself to do something you enjoy is not only beneficial for our wellbeing, but will make us more compassionate and help to maintain healthy relationships. This might be spending a few minutes practising yoga, going for a walk or trying a new craft.

Take five minutes

Meditation and mindfulness can be an ideal way to start your day,” explains Julia. “But just taking five or 10 minutes out to sit quietly somewhere when you need to recharge or sit with your emotions is just fine. A friend told me that her only quiet place is the bathroom, so don’t rule that out if it works for you!

“It can be particularly difficult to find time for yourself with very young children around. Asking for support from other family members that you’re in lockdown with can be critical to give you at least a short time on your own.”

The key is to be kind to yourself. Our modern lifestyles mean we’re often not very good at slowing down and it can be tempting to continue putting pressure on ourselves in lockdown.

“I’ve seen lots of people move their businesses online, or have huge clear-outs at home,” says Julia. “While this works for some people, it might not feel right for you. Remember that right now, it’s also okay take a step back and just focus on what you can manage to do.”

Organise your week

One of the key issues surrounding coronavirus that’s causing anxiety is a lack of control. Whether it’s in our personal or professional lives, when we feel out of control it can make us panic. This can all take its toll on our relationships.

“It’s important to recognise a new normal,” explains Julia. “You’ll have a different family routine now, but try and pull together and understand that everyone in the household is feeling the strain.

“You might aim to have a loose plan for the week ahead, maybe discussing it with family members on a Sunday evening. It’s important to bear in mind that flexibility and readiness to change the plan is key. Your priority is your wellbeing and that of your family.

“Think about allocating tasks that you can all do. Distributing tasks among your family can give a focus and a sense of control back to daily life.”

Plus, as Julia explains, it can also help to promote a peaceful household.

“Arguments will start if it feels as though you’re doing it all,” she says. “If you and your partner are both working from home, you may find you need to have discussions about the best place for you to both work without disrupting each other. Discuss whether one of you has a more flexible role than the other. This can help to balance the workload between work and home life.”

Remember to communicate

It might sound obvious, but communication is vital in healthy relationships and never has this been more true than in the coronavirus lockdown. Talking through how you’re feeling with a partner or your family can be a healthy way to express your emotions, which is essential for your mental health.

Not only this, but it’s especially important at this time to choose language that is compassionate, showing understanding to those around us.

“We want to avoid blame,” says Julia. “Even if someone isn’t doing their fair share of work around the house, instead, explain how this makes you feel. This can avoid the conversation from erupting into a full-blown argument.

“Also, try to pick up on each other’s moods. Be sensitive and ask your loved ones about their day and how they’re feeling. Show gratitude at kind gestures. It sounds obvious, but these can all go out of the window when we’re feeling tense and anxious.”

With good communication, you’ll find that you want to spend quality time together, boosting your bond.

“When we’re communicating better, we’re more inclined to be physically close,” says Julia. “With this in mind, try to allocate time for you and your partner. It can be tricky if you have kids and you’re feeling exhausted, but after they’ve gone to bed, use that time to reconnect with each other. Maybe with a bottle of wine, settling down to a film together or just an opportunity to talk.”

In extreme situations

Sadly, there may be situations where you feel unsafe or uncomfortable at home. While the coronavirus pandemic has put pressure on domestic abuse services, help is out there.

“Under lockdown, it can feel incredibly difficult to contact a domestic abuse service without your partner hearing you,” says Julia. “But domestic helplines are aware of this and doing everything they can to support those who need their help.

“In addition, if you need to, contact the police. Dial 999 and then dial 55. You may be asked some questions, but you don’t need to speak. You can tap answers through the keypad.

“Know that there is help out there still and you’re not alone.”

Find out more about silent 999 calls

About Julia

Julia Sinclair-Brown is an experienced career and life coach. After a very difficult period of her life when she suffered close family bereavements, she now focuses much of her work on supporting others who have faced the loss of a loved one. She holds the notion that we never ‘get over’ a deep loss but can instead accept that we will be changed by it. In time, we can learn to find meaning and a way forward in our lives again.

Find out more about Julia’s work at www.evolvida.co.uk or get in touch on 07951 581 458. Since the Covid-19 crisis, she has also started a Facebook Group Kinship In Grief to support others with grief and loss of normalcy during this time.

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