Having a loved one who is an essential worker is extremely stressful during this unprecedented pandemic. It’s completely normal and understandable to have fears, concerns and relationship conflict during this challenging time. Here are some do’s and don’t to help you foster resilience in yourself and your relationship.
- Reflect empathy & compassion to your loved one. Don’t assume you know how your loved one feels. Don’t minimize or argue with feelings.
- Practice self-compassion. Don’t ignore or judge your feelings. Honor them and allow time and space for cathartic release and expression.
- Control what you can (your own thoughts, feelings and choices). Don’t try and control what you can’t (the thoughts, feelings or choices of your loved one).
- Prioritize your own health and wellness and practice self-care. Don’t neglect self-care because of feelings of worry or guilt.
- Access support (online support groups, teletherapy, connecting with loved ones virtually, etc.). Don’t isolate alone with your feelings.
- Stay in the present with mindfulness practices like deep breathing, meditation and yoga. Avoid worrying about the future.
- Practice gratitude by looking at the good parts and giving thanks. Don’t look at the scary or negative aspects only.
- Keep your thinking positive. Don’t fuel anxiety with catastrophic thinking. Turn down the volume of your inner critic. Detach from fear. Practice the power of affirmations and positive mantra.
- Ask how you can be a support to your loved one. Don’t assume you know what they need. Reflect respect, encouragement and appreciation. Honor their service to your community.
- Give your loved one space and time. Don’t ask them for constant updates or make them talk if they aren’t ready.
- Remember this is temporary. Don’t think this will go on forever. “And this too, shall pass.”
It’s also very important to structure your days and weeks. Create a daily schedule that includes:
- Sleep schedule
- Nutritious meals
- Work time
- Parenting, home schooling or dependent care
- Connecting with support for yourself
- Reading or watching the news no more than twice per day
The following are common relationship mistakes loved ones make, even when they come from a place of good intentions:
- Telling an essential worker not to worry or that everything will be fine may come from a place of good intentions, but this can feel invalidating and minimizing normal feelings of fear and concern.
- Telling an essential worker to quit their job or say no to certain duties if that is not their desire. This is a time for respect and support.
- Overwhelming them with requests for updates on their work or by providing them with updates from the news
Foster resilience by:
- Viewing challenges as opportunities for growth
- Promoting health and wellbeing
- Being open, flexible and adaptive
- Being emotionally intelligent
- Learning from mistakes
- Having a sense of humor even when stressed
- Discover or develop a deeper sense of purpose
Access the support you need and deserve today. Most insurance companies are covering telecounseling and some like Aetna have waved out-of-pocket teletherapy expenses. Take care of your mental health and seek support today. If you are concerned about a loved one, act swiftly and recommend counseling. For tips on how to recommend therapy to somebody, click here.
Mental Health Resources:
United Healthcare has launched a free (to anyone) 24/7 support line staffed by mental health experts: Call 866-342-6292
Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor