Your plans for Spring 2020 have likely been turned upside down at this point.

Everywhere you turn, it seems like conversations focus on discussing the
dangers and risks of COVID-19. Fortunately, we have been more isolated here in Billings and our state comparatively. Yet, we continue to see headline after headline about ways to fight loneliness during isolation, but the truth is, not everyone feels alone or isolated!

Many of us are adjusting to a new normal during COVID-19. It includes a full house (all the time!), which presents some serious challenges that are worth discussing.

Here are a few helpful tips from Dr. Erin Amato and her team at Montana Psychiatry and Brain Health on how to at least survive, and maybe grow in togetherness despite the pandemic.

Make Communication A Priority

Relationships are complicated. New COVID-19 restrictions can make them even more complicated. Some families are adjusting to telework and may find it difficult to get their work done due to lack of childcare, confined spaces, technological issues.

With all of these additional stressors, communication is more essential than ever! It helps provide clarity, respect, and understanding during these challenging times.

Sometimes we miscommunicate. Other times we forget to say important things. Help your spouse and family members by communicating what’s important to you. And, on the flip side, don’t forget to listen to what’s important to them.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Don’t let your home office take over your entire life! When your work life and personal life live under the same roof, it’s important to have clear boundaries. Start by designating a physical space to conduct your work. You don’t have to have a formal office to be productive while working from home.

Try to find a quiet space with limited distractions. Set realistic goals at the
beginning of the day. Try to develop a schedule so there is a clear start to your day and end to your day. I know of one family who all members have a set time for quiet/ personal time. This works well for self-sufficient school-aged children to have focused time for assigned schoolwork or reading.

Lead With Empathy

Stress is extremely high! Everyone is feeling cooped up. Couples are trying to react to this new normal, meet work deadlines, become teachers, and so much more. These COVID-19 restrictions take away the ability to run from the issues that might be plaguing couples and families.

Instead of avoiding tension or disagreement, acknowledge it. Tell your spouse, child, or family member that you recognize and understand their emotions. Instead of being confrontational, try leading with empathy that could pave the way to resolution and, ultimately, a stronger relationship.

Find Time To Connect

Even though date nights look a lot different during COVID-19, there’s still plenty of time to connect emotionally. Both you and your spouse or loved ones are likely feeling the daily stress and restlessness of current ‘Stay At Home’ orders. The good news is that it doesn’t take an expensive night out to connect and have a great time.

• Try making dinner together (check out an online cooking class)
• Virtual chat with friends
• Watch a movie together
• Play a board game
• Go for a walk together

Finally, remember that our current state is temporary. The world has gotten
through pandemics before and sooner or later this too will pass. Find the good in each day and use this time of ‘togetherness’ to cultivate healthy, stronger relationships with those you love.

Let us not lose positivity in progression one day at a time.

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