For my last piece in this series, I originally was planning on discussing a different type of relationship, but with the recent events that have unfolded within the past couple of months, I think that all the relationships we have whether family or friends are being tested in ways that we never saw coming. While we all can agree that there have been many ups and downs in trying to communicate with our friends and teachers and spending almost every hour of every day with our families, the situation we now are finding ourselves in also presents a new way for us to grow in our relationships with others.
After doing a bit of research on the different ways that the global pandemic is not only affecting the relationships we have with other people but our own mental, these are a few different things you can do to help you stay mentally healthy and happy. First, it is important to limit how much time we spend watching or reading the news. While it is important to stay updated on what is going on in the world and the country. We all can agree that recent news has been more on the depressing side which can be dangerous for our mental health if that’s all we focus on. The new time we are finding ourselves with is the perfect opportunity to make something new or to get organized. We will never know the impact the small things we do today such as cleaning or learning a new skill will impact us in the future when we might need it. Making time for fun and aside from any work that we might have is crucial in that this can be what keeps us motivated and happy, and can be the time that keeps us from falling into dangerous places mentally. Lastly, it is important to stay connected to our friends. While we aren’t able to see our friends anymore as often as we would like, how often we hear or talk to them mostly relies on how often we actually make an effort to reach out. This without a doubt is a time full of uncertainty for all of us, and the only way we will be able to overcome it is by making sure we are there for each other.
Continuing on the topic of friends, it can be really important for us to reach out to our friends and create a safe place where we are able to simply be ourselves during this time. Psychologists have defined the effects of negativity on our brain as the Negativity Effect, in that that brain has a stronger tendency to respond to negative events more than positive ones and can have almost three times the impact of a comparative positive event (The Atlantic). Based on this, the rule of Four has been developed, which states that four good things are necessary to overcome one bad or negative thing that might have happened in our life.
Being that there is a lot of negativity present in the world in this current state, it is important for us not only to create spaces of positivity for ourselves but for our friends as well. As said earlier it is first important for you to often initiate the conversation or check-in on how the other person is doing. This shows the other individual that you care enough about them and how they are doing to reach out. It is important for us to encourage each other during this time whether praying for each other or finding ways to serve each other whether through a text wishing them well or dropping off their favorite food or a card at their house.
An article I found also discussed the many different ways that being under quarantine has helped restore and rekindle old relationships. Buzzfeed wrote that many people being in quarantine have found time to reflect on past relationships and to find out how much they really cared for relationships that might have fallen apart over time. Many people discussed how if they had been asked whether or not they would have considered reaching out to fix these relationships before quarantine the answer would have been no. The time we now find ourselves in presents not only a chance for us to grow in the relationships we already have but also a chance to reflect and work on the friendships we might have left fall under the bridge.
Many of us have found ourselves spending a lot more time with siblings and parents than we had ever before. For a lot of us, whether parents working from home or siblings coming home early from college, we are realizing for the first time how often we have really spent time with our family and compared to how much we are spending time with them now. Despite everything that has happened, we all are still trying to carry out our daily needs and habits the best we can which sometimes can cause conflict. Some ways to avoid conflict with the people we are living with are to create a schedule, give each other space, and build our communication skills. By creating a schedule of what you need to do and where you need to do it, conflict can be avoided. The coronavirus has forced us all together quickly and abruptly so it is important to give each other space and respect each others’ spaces as we all navigate through this time. Use this time to not only practice communicating your needs but to listen to the needs of others and how to respond to these needs.
To end, I just want to encourage everyone in these unforeseen and unpredictable times. There are definitely days where it is harder than others and I’m sure many of us are feeling waves of emotions and that is okay. More than ever we need to be there not only for each other but for ourselves. Thank you for reading and stay safe and healthy!
Blackmon, Michael. “The Pandemic Is Pushing People To Revisit Relationships That Fell Apart.” BuzzFeed News, BuzzFeed News, 16 Apr. 2020, http://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/michaelblackmon/coronavirus-relationships-reconciliation-friends-exes-family.
Buscho, Ann Gold. “Relationships in Quarantine: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 6 Apr. 2020, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/better-divorce/202004/relationships-in-quarantine-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly.
Dilanchyan, Hannah. “3 Ways to Strengthen Your Friendships during COVID-19.” The Chimes, Biola University, 20 Apr. 2020, chimesnewspaper.com/48029/opinions/3-ways-to-strengthen-your-friendships-during-covid-19/.
John Tierney, Roy F. Baumeister. “How Not to Tank Your Relationship in Quarantine.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 1 Apr. 2020, http://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/03/how-maintain-your-relationship-quarantine/608830/.
Daan Stevens on Unsplash