Love in lockdown: How to maintain healthy relationships
Lockdown has had a profound effect on everyday life. Enforced time spent together at home or forced time apart, as well as the pressure to entertain and relate, has put significant strains on relationships.
Every relationship goes through its ups and downs but, for many, COVID-19 has brought on added pressure; providing the perfect ground to either bring couples together or to draw them further apart. Despite the difficult conditions, there are a number of things that you can do to keep your relationship thriving, whether you are living together or apart; these small actions can make a world of difference.
While every relationship is different, for a relationship to be healthy, it requires more than just shared interests and strong feelings for each other. It involves a number of characteristics which show that you understand and care for each other such as, trust, communication, empathy, patience, interest, affection, flexibility, respect, honesty, reciprocity, healthy conflict resolution and, of course, having fun.
Essentially, a healthy relationship should mean that you can be an authentic version of yourself, feel supported and connected, while still maintaining your individuality.
Relationships, whether romantic, platonic or otherwise, are a central part of our lives; they are essential to our emotional support and physical well-being. So, when a relationship falls out of being healthy, it can have the opposite effect. If you and your loved ones have found lockdown challenging, here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy relationship during these unusual times.
Respect each other's space
Lockdown has meant that outside life has ceased to exist and you are spending most of your time with your partner, family or housemates. For many, it is the lack of freedom has been a struggle; that is why it is important to set boundaries and make sure that you both have time to focus on your individual needs.
Try putting some physical distance between you by designating separate areas during work hours, or a time that is convenient for you.
Put aside time to connect
Putting aside time to connect and maintaining an emotionally close relationship is especially important when dealing with difficult times.
As the mundaneness of lockdown sets it, make time to share a meal, set up a date night, play a game, watch a movie or set aside some time to go for a walk and get some sunshine together. The time spent creating, laughing, or simply enjoying each other's company will make getting through this stressful time a whole lot easier.
Support one and other
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on all aspects of life, increasing the risk of anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. It is especially important to pay attention to your partner's moods and behaviour, providing support when they need it.
Communication is a vital part of every relationship, especially when it comes to stressful circumstances. If you feel like there is tension, address it early so that you can set boundaries, work through the tension and understand how you can support one and other.
When you don't have to leave home, it is easy to fall out of habitual patterns. However, maintaining structure is an important factor in maintaining a sense of normalcy.
Try to get up around the same time every day, get out of your pyjamas, do exercise and continue to do regular tasks and responsibilities. You will find that not only does structure help to alleviate stress but can help to create a feeling of partnership between you and your significant other.
Share the workload
This is especially important for couples with children, as lockdown has meant that there is less additional help and support for families. If you and your partner can get into a good routine sharing the chores around the home, it will alleviate stress and pressure. Meaning that you can both have more time to spend together or having that extra alone time doing something you enjoy.
Take care of yourself
While it is essential to keep connected to the outside world, friends, family and work, it is just as important to make sure that you have enough time to take time for yourself. A regular schedule of exercise and mindfulness can help to reduce stress, improve moods as well as improve your overall well-being.
Another way to help take care of your mental health is to switch off from the news, make time to watch light programs, read books and do activities. This will help you to relax and enjoy the present moment for what it is.
With a lack of stimulation and the additional pressure that the pandemic brings, the small things may begin to bother you. Everyone has their strange habits, quirks and mannerisms, that is what makes us unique. If you find yourself being irrationally irritated, take a step back. Take a minute to relax and try to discuss them in a positive manner if they are still bothering you once you have had a minute to reflect.
Don't forget about intimacy
Intimacy and affection is an essential part of a relationship; it can help to reduce stress and make you feel more connected. Affection can be as simple as touching, a loving word or a gesture, putting in the effort will help to keep the spark alive.
Here are some tips:
- date nights (dinner by candlelight, after the kids are asleep)
- date lunches
- optimistic logging (take note of the things your partner is doing that you like)
- caring days (sharing rewarding activities with each other)