The world as we once knew has drastically changed. Quarantine has become our new norm. However, this is new to us, and can be extremely challenging.
How can we survive being cooped up at home endlessly with ourselves and family?
Based on my experience and observations, the success of our survival will be dependent on several major concepts; perspective, staying calm, re-prioritizing, exercising flexibility and most importantly, teamwork.
The first thing you need to know is that this situation is temporary.
Although we don’t know when this quarantine period will end, it can’t go on forever. So be hopeful. It will run its course, and this too shall pass!
Everything in life is all about our perspective. In every negative situation it can be helpful to look for something positive to help us deal with the uncontrollable event. How we go about finding the positive from negative is personal and up to you to make the situation work best for you. Sometimes the positive is a learning experience or helping us shift more important things into perspective. The key is find something good within the awful to feel somewhat in control and help us effectively cope.
The next thing is to take as many deep breaths as you need. The most effective way to weather a storm is by being prepared and staying calm (to the best of your ability) will be the best tool to help you deal with being quarantined. When you are calm you can think clearly, focus better, and be present. And remember, it's all about perspective.
Quarantine is happening regardless if it works for you or not. You need to find a way to make quarantine work for you so you can calmly survive. Here are some tools that might help:
A: Identify the Sources of Stress
When you are calm you don’t feel the need to yell. Ask yourself, What compels you to yell? Are you nervous? When you are Nervous you end up yelling more instead of talking. Make a list of a few triggers that cause you to yell. Identifying the source is the first step to problem solving.
B: Stay In-tune to your feelings
What is making you feel not calm? Journal writing is helpful in identifying feelings and triggers and a great tool to use to express yourself, release tension and relieve your mind of stressful thoughts. You can then share your thoughts with those who need to hear how you feel or you can close the notebook feeling emotionally lighter (having just vented in safe space) and continue about your day. Not every situation has a chance to get resolved but letting your thoughts out in a safe space is cathartic and can allow you to move forward even if change hasn’t yet occurred.
C: Stay Present
Do you find yourself constantly being disrupted by family members? Being forced to lose your focus can be very frustrating, making you lose your cool, causing you to yell out, displacing your frustrating feelings onto your child or spouse who maybe just wanted to ask you a simple question. Try being present and not so focused on tasks (if they can wait) so you're readily available for your family’s needs. That leads me to my next point...
Life as you once knew it is now completely different.
Whatever structure you had in place before, may no longer be useful. You need to re-prioritize and shift your focus to what’s most important now, during quarantine times. Here are some tools that might help:
A: Shift Focus
I have mentally compartmentalized my day where in the morning my focus is only on ‘online schooling and caring for my kids’. Everything else, like house work etc. are secondary in my day and I focus on them only after online school has ended. Shifting my focus to what I find most important now has allowed me to naturally feel calmer because although I'm still multitasking by facilitating 4 online classes simultaneously I am only focusing on school and not the many other things I also need to do.
B: Slow Down
Life has slowed down tremendously, and we too need to slow down with it. The concept of running around, places to go, people to see, and countless errands to run, at this time, is mostly become nonexistent. Therefore, we need to stop running the halls of our house to stay busy. Take a deep breath and slow down. The outside world has shut down. Most important, things can now wait. Try to live in the moment.
C: Unnecessary Stress
Don’t add on any extra work to your plate that will cause unnecessary stress. Think about what “to do” things you can skip or push off for now. Your plate is already full with the kids being home all day, being responsible for in-homeschooling, working from home and not having your usual outlets available to support you since the world outside is under quarantine.
Scheduling and structure are usually key to running an organized household. During quarantine times, those rules have changed.
In order to survive being stuck at home, I find that you need to be more flexible with your daily schedule, with screen time and all activities in general, since life at the moment is not being lived "as normal". With that being said, you are still the parent of your home. Do as you see fit. Create a flexible schedule or just go with the flow. The key now is surviving quarantine in the calmest most effective manner, in whatever way that works for you and your family. Allow your family to partake in the schedule planning or in selecting which activity they'd like to engage in. You no longer need to do things alone. The family is all together. Make it a team effort. Teamwork will be another major key to your survival.
Although quarantine can affect everyone differently, we are all experiencing the same thing simultaneously. We need to find a way to stick together and be there for one another. You are not alone. So try your best to find a positive outlook on quarantined life. Try your best to remain calm. Be more present and focus only on what’s most important and remember family is definitely one of them. Practice being flexible and exercise teamwork. Now is the time to utilize your, and your family’s, strengths - to be unified and work as a team. We are all in this together.
Henny Reiser, LCSW