Getting through Lockdown 2.0Nov 12, 2020
How to cope with Lockdown if the first one tested your relationship?
Here is an article I wrote for Metro
The First Lockdown was a difficult time with restrictions on what we can do, uncertainty about the future, fears of getting Covid-19, being trapped in the same space as our partner and children. Many couples thrived by making use of time together. Many also suffered as irritations and resentments grew and feelings were suppressed or exploded.
The new Lockdown is even worse. The novelty has worn off, the fear is rising that Covid-19 is not going away, Christmas may be cancelled, monetary problems are looming as the likelihood of unemployment is increasing and to cap it all it is cold, dark and gloomy.
Now that we are in a different and more ambiguous phase, we will all be experiencing different feelings and our journey to the ‘new normal’ will be at different speeds. We will also be bringing with us different baggage of fear, frustration, irritation, resentment as well as positive feelings of joy, gratitude and reconnection with what is really important. We can choose which to carry forward and which to leave behind.
The stress of all of this uncertainty makes us less tolerant and more likely to retreat into our own internal comfort zone. There is also worry about the financial impact this will have as we move out of furlough. Many people will become unemployed and future job prospects are uncertain.
The impact of all of this can have a long-term negative effect on our physical and mental health. The stress puts us into fight, flight or freeze mode and the body is being flooded by the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol.
The physical effects of this stress include poor sleep, a higher risk of heart problems, high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, obesity, weakened immune system and organ damage.
The impact on mental health is more insidious and can create insecurity, poor self-image, unhappiness, depression, reduced energy and mental fatigue.
Now is the time for couples to pause and reflect on what has gone well in the relationship and what could be even better. If this is done with an attitude of openness, honesty and wanting to co-create a better future then the relationship can only improve. If couples wait, the likelihood is that frustrations and resentments will be suppressed and leak out in disconnection or arguments, then the relationship is likely to deteriorate.
What can you do to come out of the other side, alive and in love with your partner?
Here are 5 ideas to help you both:
- Express your feelings and emotions to each other.
If your partner (or children!) are doing things that irritate or upset you; tell them how that makes you feel. Do this in the moment rather than burying it and allowing it fester. Use words like ‘I feel….’ and avoid blaming words like ‘You…’ This helps you dig below the stuff, the shoes in the hall, the messy sink, damp towels on the floor, into the real feelings.
- Deal with the ‘Elephants in the Room’. If you spent the first lockdown sweeping arguments under the rug, it will be looking a bit lumpy! Get all the issues from the past out otherwise they will lock you in a bad place.
- 3 good things
Every evening share three good things that you have experienced during the day. It is a great way of getting your subconscious into a positive frame before you sleep.
We need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 for maintenance and 12 for growth. They should be at least 20 seconds each to get the feel-good hormone, Oxytocin, flowing. Get hugging!
- Do different things
When did you last have fun together? Unleash the child within and do things that will make you both smile and laugh. Be creative and see if you can do better than jumping in some puddles or having a pillow fight.