The coronavirus pandemic is challenging residents of Washington and other states across the country in unprecedented ways. In addition to the health risks and financial uncertainty, many parents, spouses, and partners are also finding themselves facing a significant amount of family-related stress at home.
With many Washington residents out of work or working from home, with children home from school, and with everyone limiting their activities outside of the home under the state’s stay-at-home order (which Governor Inslee extended to May 4 in early April), a certain amount of stress is almost inevitable. However, the present circumstances are impacting some families more than others, and this is adding to the stress and frustration of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic for these families as well.
7 Tips for Coping with Family Stress Caused by the COVID-19 Crisis
If you are dealing with family stress as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, what can you do to relieve some of the pressure and restore some semblance of your normal life? Here are some tips from our attorneys and other resources around the web:
1. Try to Relax If You Can
No one likes to be told to relax, and the reality is that many people are currently facing circumstances in which relaxing is difficult. That said, trying to relax is important for your own psychological well being, and this in turn can lead to reduced stress in the home. Eastern Washington University and several other colleges and medical schools have published tips for finding ways to relax. These aren’t just for students, and may help all members of the family reduce their stress levels during the coronavirus pandemic:
- Eastern Washington University Counseling and Psychological Services – Tips for Relaxing
- Washington University in St. Louis – Three Ways to Lower Stress
- Michigan Medicine – Stress Management: Relaxing Your Mind and Body
2. Knowing Your (and Your Family Members’) Triggers
Are there certain things that you just can’t stand? Are there things you do that you know make your spouse, partner, or children stressed? If so, knowing what these triggers are, acknowledging them, and proactively trying to avoid them can help alleviate stress during this challenging time. If you know which of your family members’ behaviors trigger you, discussing them openly may be beneficial for everyone, and having a pre-planned coping mechanism may help you avoid escalating the situation.
3. Finding New Ways to Connect
While being stuck at home can be stressful, it also presents an opportunity to find new ways to connect. For example, instead of everyone watching their own favorite shows on their own devices, consider playing games or scheduling a family movie night. Studies have shown that excessive screen time is harmful for all types of family relationships. While it might seem relaxing for everyone to have screen time to themselves (and having time alone is indeed an important part of the coping process), families should be careful not to become overly reliant on their screens while waiting out the coronavirus pandemic.
4. Get Some Exercise
Studies have also shown that exercise is important for managing stress (not to mention staying healthy). Even if your gym is closed, there are plenty of ways that you (and your family) can exercise at home during the pandemic. From yoga to indoor cycling, there are many free follow-along-at-home exercise videos available online; or, simply consider making a list of exercises and doing them by yourself when you have a few minutes of quiet time to yourself.
5. Schedule Quiet Time
Speaking of quiet time, when everyone is at home, moments of solace can be few and far between. With this in mind, parents, spouses, and partners may want to consider scheduling designated quiet time, either for one another or for the entire family. For example, if both parents are working from home, consider designing the morning as quiet time for one parent and the afternoon as quiet time for the other. Or, maybe a block of time can be set aside for children to do their schoolwork while the parents take care of work or household tasks. Oftentimes, simply setting parameters in advance can prevent family members from getting frustrated because they feel that they are not getting the time they need to themselves – or, conversely, that they are not finding the right times to connect with one another.
6. Plan for the Future
The coronavirus pandemic has been all-consuming since it first hit Washington in late January, and this has made it difficult for many people to conceptualize life after the virus. But, the world will move on; and, when it does, family life will gradually start to readjust back to normal. With this in mind, it may be beneficial for all members of the family to start planning for the future. Did you have a family trip over spring break get canceled? Can you plan a new trip for later in the year instead? When your children go back to school, are there ways that you can manage your mornings or evenings more effectively? For many people, planning for less-stressful times can help reduce stress in the short-term as well.
7. Don’t Rush to Judgment or Make Emotionally-Charged Decisions
Finally, if you are struggling with family stress at home, it is important not to rush to judgment or make any emotionally-charged decisions. For example, if you are struggling to find happiness in your marriage, filing for divorce may be an option, but the decision to file for divorce generally is not one you want to make based on short-term circumstances. That said, you should seek professional help if you think you need it, and our attorneys are here to discuss your options (and alternatives) if you would like more information.
Schedule a Confidential Initial Consultation in Tacoma, WA
If you have questions about divorce, enforcing your child custody rights, dealing with non-payment of alimony or child support, or any other family-related legal issue related to the coronavirus pandemic, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a time to speak with one of our family lawyers in confidence, call us directly or inquire online today.