Decreasing the Strain on Your Relationships During the Pandemic - Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Decreasing the Strain on Your Relationships During the Pandemic

*This has been modified from an outside resource to better fit for our community.

Even healthy relationships are experiencing strain and stress during this pandemic. If you are sheltered-in-place, you are certainly spending more time with your family than you have before.
While it is great to have support and comfort during these difficult times, the stressors can also increase the likelihood of arguments and confrontations. While confrontations do not have to be negative, they can be for many. When physical and emotional space is limited, even trivial complaints or disagreements can become exacerbated. Family members may take on much of
each other’s anxiety, anger, and fears.

A study published in the Journal of Personal and Social Psychology found that relationships exposed to high stress for long periods of time become strained, regardless of how strong the
relationship skills are. The study recommends for each person to identify successful ways to manage stress to discuss, so you can bring the best you to each interaction. Additionally, work on identifying the positives around being at home with family, which can allow people to focus on your relationship by reconnecting and working together.

If you are noticing that there is some strain in your relationships at home, here are some suggestions:

  1. Voice your needs clearly and kindly. Remain calm and resist the temptation to blame. It is important to pause, reflect, and to understand how you are feeling and express what you need in a respectful manner.
  2. Listen to each other with respect, patience, and kindness. Try to find the common ground in conversations. Try to express what you are worried about or how you are experiencing things. Avoid discussing “what ifs” as they can increase anxiety and lead to additional conflict.
  3. When things get heated, take time to calm down. Identify when you are stressed and work to take a step back. Acting in an unhealthy fashion is increased when you are upset. You might become critical, irritable, short-tempered, or break down. Work on not snapping on others, and expressing if you need time to relax or space to think. Remember, you do not want to regret things you said later on.
  4. Work on expressing gratitude with each other. This can build connections with each other and allows others to feel appreciated.
  5. Take care of yourself and your needs. Work on taking care of your body by sleeping, eating healthy, exercising, and connecting with friends/family. Attempt to develop new hobbies or
    invest in things that are talents/skills, like meditation, art, or writing.
  6. Create space to work. If possible, try to use different rooms for each other to work. Use noise-cancelling headphones. For parents, work with each other around shifts if you have multiple children and need to tend to childcare and household tasks.
  7. Talk to each other about individual time/space. We all need quiet time or an escape, so talk with each other about breaks and when to be together. If you communicate, the chances that feelings are hurt is lessened.
  8. Work together. Plan projects with each other and work as a team. You will feel more connected and one person does not have to tackle everything alone.
  9. Make small gestures to brighten each other up. Tell people you care about them. Make them a card. Cook a special dinner. There are many things you can do to surprise someone and make them feel special.
  10. Respect differences. You and your family likely cope differently with this. Parents may be worried about finances, students may be worried about school/friends, and everyone may be
    worried about family members. Try to express what you need but also be understanding of some of the family struggles. Use your skills of empathy to attempt to accept and not judge.

If you and your family would like to share some things you are doing with us, we would be happy to share them with the community, anonymously or not. Please feel free to email us, as we
would be happy to compile a community idea list to share with each other.