Sometimes, too much time with the same people can make you long for a little social isolation.
Families around the world are spending much more time together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lots of time together in close quarters can leave people without a release valve for energy and stress. Other people’s habits that were easy to shrug off in normal times might become irksome during a period of stress and constant contact.
“It’s a completely new and unique situation,” said Murray Krantz, a professor in the College of Human Sciences at Florida State University.
Krantz shared a few tips that might help make this time easier for families living together.
1. Look for signs of resilience among family members.
People are going to have a wide variety of emotions as a result of the changes brought on by this pandemic. To help cope with those emotions, look for people in your family who are showing resilience.
“Don’t insist that it has to be you. You may not be the person who saves the day here,” he said, but by watching for those signs of resilience and encouraging them, you can help.
For example one of you might be good at figuring out how to make a commonplace recipe taste better or bring a sense of humor that brightens the mood for everyone. Allow your resilient family members to show their individual strengths which may also manage their emotions in a way that creates a path for everybody to follow.
2. Have a family schedule.
In almost all circumstances, having a schedule helps people stay stable.
With more people together under one roof, general guidelines for when the household is sleeping, awake, or participating in a family meal are helpful.
“I think everybody should be reasonably expected to get up roughly at the same time, give or take a half-hour or maybe even an hour, ” he said.
Krantz also recommends eating at least one meal together. “If we can get around the table together, we’ll find something in common that is probably healthy for all of us,” Krantz said.
If you’ve never had a schedule, adopting one now may seem artificial, and if that’s the case, it’s OK not to suddenly regiment their lives. But for families who have found schedules useful, keeping them in mind during this unusual time may be helpful.
3. Find something fun that everyone can do together.
“Maybe every day — or OK, every other day — find something that’s reasonably constructive and reasonably fun to do for at least most of the people who are living in the house,” Krantz said.
This doesn’t have to take long, but it should be something where everybody’s doing the same thing. It could be as simple as watching the same television show together.
“It shouldn’t be a chore,” he said. “It’s something that suggests some fun, some fulfillment, something enjoyable. I think if you find something that most of the people are really enjoying, it’s probably going to be magnetic and draw other people’s interest.”