As Canadians head into the second month of isolation, being locked down with your family might not be bringing the love. Couples are in survival mode and that does not always create a safe space for people. In fact, if there is already challenges in our relationships panic can trigger those dormant issues. In many ways our minds and bodies are disconnected from the people we are closest to and we have to be intentional about calming the nervous system down.We asked couple and family therapist, Carole Sandy, to share some of her tips for making it work.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR TRIGGERS
This is the first thing you need to do. Anxiety and panic impact the way we respond, and it might be that we feel unheard, unseen, rejected or unloved. Our past traumatic experiences are triggered when we are in survival mode. It's important to speak our truth; it helps create safety.
SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES
COVID-19 compromises our sense of self; we can't more in and out of our roles as we normally would as mother, co-worker or friend. Instead, we're trying to make everything work under one roof. Take meaningful breaks. This will allow you to move momentarily outside of your relationship so you can appreciate one another when you return. Check in on a friend, go do a workout, or work on something creative.[video_embed id='1932114']RELATED: Physical distancing can make our relationships stronger, writer argues[/video_embed]
KEEP IN MIND THAT YOU DON'T ALWAYS HAVE TO AGREE
Pick your battles. If you're having communication issues, a good technique would be to write one another a letter. This can help reduce anger. Write down how you're feeling, what you need and what your hopes are. Be mindful of your tone, even in a letter! When we're fearful of disagreements, it creates more anxiety.
TRAIN YOURSELF TO LOOK FOR THE GOOD
If you're looking for negatives in your relationships, you're going to find them. You need to work on the ability to overlook the things you don't like about your partner and focus on the things that you do, and appreciate them because we all need the encouragement right now.
TOUCH IS IMPORTANT
Don't forget the romance. Hold hands, lightly touch your partner's arm when you're speaking to them, smile, and maybe try falling asleep in each other's arms. According to Carole, couples that try new things together tend to be happier.
ACT WITH EMPATHY
The most important takeaway is that you're working as partners to bring back harmony into your relationships and households. This begins with empathy, leading us to ask "What might my partner be going through right now?" Asking this question helps see your partner in a loving and caring way.[video_embed id='1932850']BEFORE YOU GO:Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard aren't exactly getting along in isolation[/video_embed]