Maintaining harmony with housemates during lockdown
Even at the best of times and with all the good will in the world, our relationships with our nearest and dearest can spawn stress. Partners and family members are a great source of support for us at the moment but the kind of intimacy in these dynamics has great potential to cause friction. Throw in another lockdown, and there’s a lot of opportunity for conflict.
So, in order to maintain harmony with those you live with during this period it is important we recognise the possible triggers for conflict. Here are some of the main ones:
Change in routine
Any alteration to our plans can cause mild anxiety such as a change in our workload, more urgent deadlines than we are used to, or even something fun like an impromptu holiday. A change in routine = stress.
We can safely say that Coronavirus ticks this box and then some. In fact, it has pretty much dismantled the entire edifice of what we ever thought we knew about the concept of a ‘routine’.
But remember those you live with have also seen their daily routine dissipate over the course of the year.
Uncertainty and lack of control over the future
It is very stressful not knowing or not being able to control what is going to happen to us. Whenever we go to a job interview or do a test, we can easily recognise this feeling. It’s all done and dusted but the result is out of our control. We cannot change the outcome.
COVID-19 is something invisible and untouchable, even the scientists are struggling to get their heads around it. So, it is only natural that we all feel a certain lack of control at the moment. And in the home, this can give rise to conflict.
For younger adults and youths, this can be particularly unsettling for them.
The way we communicate with those around us during this period is paramount. Assuming that the other person is experiencing lockdown in the same way as you can create tension. You might believe that ‘talking everything through’ will help, whereas this could be actually raising anxiety levels for others.
Focus on getting an understanding of what is going on for those you live with and how you can be helpful to them by using open-ended questions like “How are you finding everything at the moment?”. This will create a more harmonious way of interacting.
Our attitudes and opinions about something can be the difference between getting stressed or not. With the latest reports on Coronavirus hitting our screens by the hour, it is only natural for our expectations to veer towards the negative. We may not even know our beliefs about what we are currently experiencing but, in the background they are setting us up for conflict. However, this is not inevitable.
Try to focus on what you are really thinking and to be as positive as you can around others because it’s pretty likely they’re also experiencing negative beliefs right now.
Lack of contact with others
Our days are normally filled with a range of interactions with friends, work colleagues, acquaintances and extended family members. Now we are spending most of our time with those who live within our four walls. No matter how well we get on and how healthy our relationships are, in this very abnormal scenario there is much potential for disharmony.
The effect of our environment on our mood can be a profound source of conflict. Lockdown reduces our world: we are visiting less places; we are spending less time-consuming art and culture; we are spending less time in nature. And conversely, we are spending more time at home.
Try to build in some regular time apart from those you live with – this will lessen the chance of clashing and allow each person to self-regulate their stress levels.