RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE TOUGH at the best of times but being in lockdown adds to tensions and tests out even the strongest of relationships. Here’s some suggestions to help you get through this.
Keeping relationships on an even keel
Close proximity can test the strongest of relationships and if yours is under extra strain or wasn’t great anyway then being in the same place all the time will add to the stress. Try these…:
- Identify a place where you can be alone for a few minutes.
- Respect that someone needs to be alone and don’t disturb them
- Think before you speak – you don’t need to get the upper hand at the moment
- Don’t start an argument for the sake of it because you’re cross that you’re stuck with them
- Don’t react immediately if someone goads you or annoys or upsets you
- Practice closing your eyes, deep breath and count to 10 before saying anything
- Remember at the moment, you’ve got nowhere to run off to
Repeat to yourself at least 3 times a day.
“This isn’t going to last forever, we can get through it. This is an opportunity for me to…”
If you need professional help, are in an abusive relationship or want to talk to someone, here’s some information – and remember that domestic abuse is a crime.
Having to celebrate “virtually”
Life does go on and that includes the things we’d normally celebrate like:
- Very big birthdays
- Exam results
- Welcoming a newborn
- Special achievements
- Anything that involves something special with our loved ones, friends and colleagues
Not being able to celebrate together is hard but you can still be together virtually, it just takes a bit more planning – and can actually involve people who in normal times perhaps live too far away to attend.
Making an occasion special
We can’t all be at the party right now, but we can still have a party. If you fancy a drink then you can have one as you’re not driving. Try these…..:
- Put up decorations
- Put music on
- Put up xmas lights if you haven’t got anything else
- Put your sparkly best clothes on
- If you’re with the person celebrating, buy or make them their favourite meal
- Make a cake
- All sing “Happy Birthday” (or whatever is right for the occasion) together
- Do a collective toast
- Everyone to say what they like or love about that person – tell a funny story about them
- Here’s some ideas about using zoom (or Skype):
- Set up a virtual celebration using zoom so everyone can join in. Set up a free account then If you want to have more than an hour then it’s worth upgrading it for a month (and then stop your subscription) so you can have as much time and as many people as you like.
- It’s also a good idea to practice with zoom first – did you know you can have “breakout rooms” – so you can put different people who may want to talk with each other into a room so they aren’t disturbed by the others?
- Watching zoom on your tv. If you set up zoom on your laptop and attach it to your tv with an hdmi cable, you’ll be able to see the whole thing on your tv screen, which is larger than your computer or laptop and will stop you squinting to see what’s going on!
- If there’s a small number of you then What’s App or Face time is good, but you can only use them on your phone so you won’t see much.
- Not everyone has the internet (particularly older relatives) so you may need to be creative or ask if they can borrow a tablet or laptop to watch (disinfection measures and social distancing must be used). A zoom event can be recorded and then downloaded so they can watch later.
- You can upload a zoom video link into your youtube channel and watch from your tv if you can get youtube on it. You need to make the link “public” so it can be found. You just need a gmail account to set up your own youtube channel.
- Plenty of youtube and zoom videos out there to help you get set up
Maintaining your contact with others
In our normal busy lives we don’t get to see those who mean something to us very often – but this is an opportunity to get together more often – using zoom or skype. Try these:
- Do virtual quizzes – lots online – this brings out the competitiveness in people. Make up questions around peoples birthdates, their names, where they live, their favourite teams etc
- Play Charades
- Guess that tune –ask the music lover to sort this – it’ll keep them occupied
- Do a dance together (make sure one person only is playing the music……..)
- Have a competition – everyone has to make something, draw something etc and the winner gets a round of applause!
- You can write something, read out favourite poems, talk about tv programmes, films or books
When you can’t say goodbye
Life’s really tough sometimes, particularly if your loved one is seriously ill and for whatever reason you can’t be with them to support them. This puts a strain on you, makes you anxious, stressed and feel like you’re not able to function.
We’re all going to pass away at some point and for some it will be sooner than others. It may be becoming clear to you that that time is coming nearer for your loved one.
Planning how to deal with it may be the last thing you want to think about, but leaving that too late will cause you problems and stress later. Do what you need to do now, particularly for the legal and money side of things, but you also need to think about yourself and making sure you are able to cope.
Here’s some practical things you can do to keep yourself physically and mentally as well as possible. Consciously reacting and responding to difficult situations in as positive way as you can will help you to cope better. That way you’ll be better able to support your loved ones:
- Try to keep some routine in your life. It’s important to have some structure and normality, even at a difficult time so follow your daily routine, even if you have to stay at home.
- Get up at your usual time – practice some simple meditation. Set a positive intention for the day.
- Get dressed – don’t sit around in your pyjamas.
- Follow your usual hair and skincare routine so you look and feel as you normally do.
If you need to work from home, look after children or grandchildren then:
- Schedule work time into the day
- Schedule breaks into the day
- Close down from work at a set time
- Go to bed at your usual time – switch off phones and tablets or turn them face side down so their blue light doesn’t keep you awake.
At difficult times it’s important to maintain contact with others for your own mental health so:
- Set up a zoom or skype account
- Set up video calls with family or friends
- Talk to one person outside of your loved one’s situation every day – to bring some balance to your life either with a phone or video call
- Call your vulnerable relatives on the phone – many older people don’t have the internet so ring to check they’re ok
Sometimes the news may be the worst
A loved one passes away and because of your circumstances you can’t be with them at the hospital or hospice.
You can’t get to the funeral either due to the restrictions so:
- Ask if there’s a live stream or video of the service
- Ask for an electronic copy of service
- Put on whatever clothes you would have worn
- Sit and think about what they meant to you
- Write it down and read it out loud
- Don’t be worried about crying unexpectedly at odd times
- Arrange a celebration of their life at a later date
Funerals are a rite of passage and a chance to say goodbye – but you can say goodbye in your own way. Take some time to reflect on the life of your loved one and reflect on the relationship you had with them, even if it wasn’t great and you didn’t get on, you’d fallen out or had chosen not to see them.
Write them a letter, tell them all the good and the bad things about your relationship. You’ll feel better for letting those feelings out. You can then decide whether to keep it, burn it, bin it or put it in a postbox with no address.
Explaining to children that a loved one is likely to die or has died is very difficult.
Depending on their age and ability to understand, tell them that they won’t be able to see their loved one again but that they can think about them and that they will always be a special person to them. They can talk about them, they can write about them, draw a picture or make a memory box. Be prepared for questions over a period of time as they come to terms with their loss
Don’t be harsh on yourself because you can’t be there.
You may be in a situation not of your making and being tough on yourself just creates more stress and distress for you. Take responsibility for yourself but don’t beat yourself up about the whole situation.
Ask for help if you feel you need it. We often talk about resilience as being strong but the most resilient people are much better at reaching out and asking for help than those who try to cope with no help .
Acknowledge you can’t do everything yourself and recognise that asking for help is ok