Amid a public health crisis and unprecedented economic uncertainty, quarantine isn’t exactly a welcome challenge. Sure, you may not have to go to work each day, but you also cannot go out to see friends, go to the gym, or even take a quick trip to the grocery store. Suddenly, your life has become dramatically different and you find yourself spending long days at home. And, because most people don’t live alone, quarantine isn’t just about dealing with isolation. It’s about surviving with roommates, spouses, kids, and other family members you may happen to live with.
If you’re finding that you’re already hating your housemates during quarantine, take a step back and consider the following coping strategies. It’s also helpful to remember that quarantine situations are tough on everyone. Being isolated at home means that the strengths in your relationships may have a chance to thrive. However, weaknesses may also be exposed as well. Here’s how to deal with them.
Restrict “pandemic talk”.
Is your spouse or roommate driving you up the wall with constant news updates and financial worries? It’s normal to get wrapped up in the negative news that surrounds us as we are all sheltered at home. However, it can be mentally draining to only focus on those negative inputs. Unfortunately, there is tons of uncertainty right now, and there are very real challenges like unemployment, housing security, and reduced access to normal healthcare services that households across the nation are facing. Still, you should try to allow yourself and your housemates time to escape these thoughts.
Try setting a rule to limit “pandemic talk” to about 20-30 minutes per day. Use this time productively to address anxieties and plan for the coming weeks. However, don’t try to plan too far. It’s easy to get wrapped up thinking about your finances six months from now, but no one can predict what that timeline will look like. Stick to dealing with one month at a time when it comes to house budgeting and other essential planning.
Advocate for yourself with direct communication.
In times of stress, it is incredibly easy to start harboring resentments toward your spouse or roommates, finding yourself annoyed with every little thing they do. This is especially true for couples who may not typically spend much of their days together while at their respective workplaces. To head off conflicts that are likely to emerge during quarantine, become a self-advocate and think about what you need from the people you live with. For example, it is okay to let your spouse know that you need alone time. However, this request should not come in the middle of a heated argument.
In addition to speaking more directly about what might be bothering you, accept that you are likely getting on your partner’s nerves as well. So, they have every right to speak directly with you about what they need too. You also won’t be able to avoid every fight and conflict. Know that it’s okay to walk away from an argument and resume the discussion when tensions have subsided.
Schedule alone time into your routine.
If you have the space, dedicate parts of your home for each household member’s alone time. Even a simple activity like watching a T.V. show by yourself or reading a book can help you reset after lengthy bouts of close contact with your spouse or roommates. Don’t forget that alone time is important for kids and teens too. If you don’t have space to give everyone a private room, headphones and furniture can create artificial barriers for alone time.
Alone time can also be a great time to practice meditation and self-reflection. These mental exercises can help you stay sharp and retain a more positive attitude throughout quarantine.
Make physical activity part of your day.
Your routine may look much different than usual, but one thing you should not let fall off is your commitment to physical activity. In most areas, it is safe and permitted to head outside for a walk, run, or bike ride. Take advantage of the time outdoors to get some sunlight and stimulation outside of the house. If your neighborhood doesn’t offer many opportunities for biking or walking, use your backyard, patio, or balcony to soak in some sun and appreciate a little outdoor time. Even when it’s not sunny outside, try to work in about 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Getting up and moving will ease your stress and offer a great distraction from roommate squabbles that might otherwise ruin your day.
Do fun activities together.
Though it may not seem like it, distractions are a form of self-care. If you live with someone who has been especially down during quarantine, try playing a game together, watching a favorite movie, or even learning a new hobby together. Fun activities are essential during this time, so get creative for the sake of your mental health as well as your partner’s.
Get professional mental healthcare.
One important reminder for everyone in quarantine is that you are not in this alone. Whether you live with your spouse, roommates, by yourself, or with family members, you can and should get help as you feel anxiety or signs of depression building. Fortunately, telehealth solutions allow you to seek psychiatric care and therapy from the comfort of home.
MeMD can connect you to a mental health practitioner in as little as 24 hours, so you can manage your quarantine stress in a healthy, sustainable way. Visit our website for a closer look at our affordable telehealth services.