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Making space and other relationship tips Part 1

Good morning! What a week it's been.

In chatting with people this week, it seems some are seeing the potential opportunities for slowing down, connecting more with loved ones, and attending to long put-off tasks. Others are feeling dread and fear about becoming ill, the potential isolation or enforced time with family members, however loved they are. Financial uncertainty and a constant stream of confusing information are extremely unsettling. Not to mention parents who are trying to juggle work and childcare, trying to retain some sense of normality when everything is upside down and inside out.

Here are 3 tips for preparing to maintain wellbeing and reduce strain on relationships:

1) Finding balance and creating anchors

Reflect on what your life and schedule looked like this time last year. Many people find that at this time of year they are making shifts from winter activities to spring and summer ones. Make a list of whatever you would normally expect to do outside of going to work/uni/school.

Put these activities into categories such as: exercise, creativity, social time, outside time etc.

For each activity, see if you can find the closest way to replicate that (or, importantly, the purpose of it) given the new restrictions we are experiencing.

And lastly, plan to do the new (virus version of the) activities. Book them in to your diary as if they are appointments you can't miss. Your plan may need to change on a daily basis for a while as we make new adjustments. These will be crucial self-care anchors over the coming weeks.

2) Making space

This crisis is affecting our moods and behaviour drastically. You may have noticed experiencing waves of fear, relief, humour, worry, anger, calm etc. Of course in a household you might be experiencing clashing moods and needs.

Plan ahead now if you can. It will be easier to make adjustments before relationships become strained.

Take some time with the people you live with to look at your living space and think creatively about ways you might use it differently. You may need to negotiate about how you'll keep the spaces clear/tidy, or move some furniture around.

In households where everyone has their own room, this is easier. But if you are sharing a small space, see if you can work out ways for each person to have their own corner. It's going to be really important over the coming weeks that everyone is able to retreat when they need some space. I've encouraged people to think back to making "dens" with sheets and pillows between furniture if that helps.

If you've identified your anchors from above that will help you work out what you need to create space for (e.g workout space, art table, reading corner, etc.). As much as I resist over-scheduling - for households where space is limited, it could be useful to plan in who is going to be using which space when.

3) Be kind, be compassionate, be flexible.

Yep, it's ridiculously obvious. But these will be the fundamental elements of maintaining positive connections - with yourself, household members, family nearby or far away, friends, neighbours, strangers. Everyone is responding differently and we have no model to follow for these circumstances.

Set your intention each day to embody these qualities as best you can. We're all going to fail miserably at times because we are under new stress that's unfamiliar, but you can always reset the intention and try again. If you haven't behaved with kindness, compassion or flexibility, you can always take responsibility, go back to the person and make a repair. The ability to make a repair in relationships is much more important that having to be perfect all the time.

There'll be more specific tips to come, as well as some links to resources.

Take good care.