"How do I cope with living with people who don't share the same principles as I do as far as following the social distancing and hygiene protocols, even after I have voiced my concerns many times? It causes me to be more paranoid as far as being careful with what I do and touch around the home. I feel more isolated, not supported and resentful."
That’s hard. The truth is, you can’t control what other people do. But, you can express yourself and try to be assertive in the most constructive way possible.
Try to make them understand your needs in this situation. Maybe, instead of going at the issue from a "You have to change your behaviour!" standpoint, instead ask them for a sit-down over coffee and just explain how you’re personally reacting to the crisis – how it’s causing you to be more cautious and fearful than you normally would be. Then, ask them to help by doing a few things differently. Make it about helping a friend vs. nagging about the dishes, if that makes sense. Your needs are as important as their needs.
If that doesn’t work, and you don’t have option of living somewhere else, try to insulate yourself from their bad behaviour as much as you can. In order for you to get infected, the virus has to get in your body. So, if you’re washing your hands regularly, not touching your face, cleaning your personal space and being careful about eating and drinking, you’re probably doing a pretty good job of protecting yourself. And, despite social distancing, try to get out of that house as much as you can. Remove yourself from the environment that’s causing you stress and go for a walk. Fresh air and exercise helps.
"I have two children in grade school and I’m trying to manage my hopefulness – balanced with the reality they can not go to school and do their things they love any time soon, and not promise them things will be back to normal next week. Anything you can guide us on how to raise children during a global pandemic and isolation will be great."
Being a parent is hard at the best of times – let alone during a global pandemic. None of us are at our best right now. We’re stressed, anxious… We don’t have our usual support systems… It can be hard to just get out to get groceries. So, first, cut yourself some slack.
Kids are incredibly resilient. The pandemic and self-isolation might not be over next week, but it will be over at some point. Communicate your confidence that this will be over and that life will get back to normal sometime in the not too far distant future to yourself and to your kids. In the meantime, try to enjoy your time together as a family and work on some shared memories for them from this historic event. They are witnessing history being made. It’s a great chance for them to journal, to do art projects or find new inspirations.
"It’s funny, I never thought I was a person who needed to see or be with a person who was sick and needed comfort, or visit a relative. I always thought a phone call was good enough or other methods of communication were a good substitute. But, I’m finding that not being able to go and see a relative or go an see my sister-in-law who is having surgery tomorrow is the really insidious part of this crisis. In short, taking away the ability to simply give a hug is much, much harder and is having a larger impact than I ever thought possible."
What a great comment! This has made us all more aware of the tremendous power of human touch. We need physical contact with other people in order to be happy. Look at it as a positive – when this ends, and it will, it’s given you a whole new perspective. It’s helped you examine your values and see what’s really important to you. Family is important. People are important. Hugs are important! Finding time to express to someone how much you love them is important. That’s amazing!
In the meantime, the phones still work. Call your sister-in-law and tell her how much she means to you. And, not just ‘Get well soon.’ Sure, that’s important. But tell her how hard it was to not be there for her. That will be an unforgettable call!
"I think I have an anxiety disorder and it's not from COVID-19."
Millions – literally millions – of Canadians are suffering with mood and anxiety disorders. It’s incredibly common. If COVID-19 has made your anxiety worse or made you more aware that you have a problem, that would be normal. That is what happens during times like this. But, there’s help!
You can check out mindbeacon.com and see if Cognitive Behavioural Therapy might be a good fit for you, or you can look into reliable online resources such as CAMH. But, regardless of what the best fit is for you, please take the next step. Don’t continue to ‘manage’ a life with anxiety. Talk to a trusted friend or family member. Reach out to a resource. Take a step. It’s worth it.
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