Posted by admin 3:13 am, 27 September 2021
With restrictions easing, we begin to hear a sigh of relief. Our homes have been a one stop shop for family time, couple connection, school and work. It is also the place where each individual has tried to prioritise their own health and self-care. To survive these lockdowns, we have needed psychological flexibility. Our ability to adapt to fluctuating situational demands by reconfiguring our mental resources, shifting our perspective, and finding balance to competing desires and needs.
How did we do it all? We couldn’t and we didn’t. For many we were forced to embrace this reality and reduce our expectations. Without our usual supports, surviving was perfectly acceptable. We had to remember to show ourselves some compassion.
For many, just focusing on the present day helped manage the depressed, anxious and demotivating experience. Some of us got tired of the daily updates and switched off the stream of trauma to focus on what we could control – our connection with our loved ones in everyday life. We held our children more and showed appreciation and love those closest to our hearts.
To live in such challenging times, means finding balance, tolerating uncertainty, and living for today. As we move forward into the unknown Covid era we need to create daily habits that focus on our needs and maintain healthy loving relationships.
Time for you…
You can’t pour from an empty cup so the first rule of thumb is self-care. Doing little things to take care of yourself is the priority. Create space for a quick self-care fix and voice your needs when you are falling short. Carving out time may involve going to bed earlier or waking up earlier to get that time for you. Make a plan and just do it. Get up 30 minutes earlier to meditate, have a cup of tea, read a book, or try to exercise or do a yoga class via zoom. This will give you energy and fulfilment. At the end of the day, do something for you. Meditate, read, listen to music, write in your journal, go for a walk/run. Bookend your day by taking care of you first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.
Time as a couple and as a family….
Do you have regular “touch points” to connect? Are these planned or impromptu? Being at home together gives you and your partner the opportunity to form habits where you can check in and do more planned activities that previously you did not do. You might start the day with a walk together, you can have lunch together, and maintain regular date nights on the weekends.
Structured family time is equally important. Children will continue to need predictability and structure. During such uncertain and anxiety provoking times, connection with your children helps them feel safe and loved. It provides opportunities for conversation, check ins, talking about feelings, as well as giving fun and lightness to such challenging times. Despite restrictions easing and friend “bubbles” starting up, don’t be too quick to let go of those family games nights, or spending time outdoors going on bush walks, swims, bike rides, and family movie nights. Keep the momentum of connection as the push-pull of the pandemic and subsequent restrictions will no doubt continue to create havoc for some time.
As a reminder for how we can survive in lockdown and embrace the confines of our home, below is a list of things we can do as part of self-care or to bring more joy into our lives with our loved ones:
• Family / Couple movie nights or binging on your favourite Netflix series;
• Going on a virtual museum tour;
• Playing music every night while dinner is being prepared;
• Investing in an ‘at home clay kit’;
• Walking the dog;
• Doing online Pilates or Yoga every few days;
• Getting up half an hour earlier than usual to meditate, read with a cup of tea, do some exercise, before the day gets started;
• Redecorating the kids’ bedrooms;
• Decluttering and change up other areas of the house;
• Cooking a 3-course dinner for friends and in turn they cook a 3-courses for meal for you to drop at each other’s doors;
• Zoom dinner with family while playing cards against humanity;
• Exercising most days with an online gym program;
• Building up to a 5km or 10km run using a jogging app;
• Investing in gym equipment for workouts at home;
• Getting a trampoline;
• Focusing on a good skin care routine;
• Reading fiction books each night;
• Playing an instrument;
• Making healthy treats and dropping them to your neighbour’s door;
• Donating to charities and support causes that are meaningful to you;
• Group music classes for toddlers and young children;
• Learning to grow your own fruit and vegetables;
• Hand written cards or sending gifts just to say “hello, I love you”;
• Online paint classes;
• Taking turns to organise “date night” or “connection time” with your partner;
As the tide now changes and we are promised greater freedoms, we continue to run a marathon in the hope of a finish line. So with that in mind, remember to keep filling your cup, be present and live for today, and be mindful about connecting with your loved ones.
Dr Mary Cantrill
Couple & Family Therapist