Thriving Relationships//

How to Deal With Overwhelming Feelings During This Crisis

With an increased amount of work to do at home, your emotions are real and warranted.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is shifting the dynamics of work, parenting, and the home. With these changes comes new (or amplified) sources of stress, especially for women, who regardless of whether they work outside the home, bear two-thirds of the work it takes to run a household and a family. That’s where Fair Play comes in — a system created by organizational management expert Eve Rodsky that helps couples rebalance domestic responsibilities so that both people in the relationship can thrive. In this series, Rodsky will draw on her knowledge from creating Fair Play, and offer tips to empower you and your partner to share the load while navigating this new normal together. 

Recently, my to-do list has looked like this: Stay informed. Disinfect. Work from home. Replenish supplies. Prepare countless meals. Clean up. Homeschool the kids. Adapt by the hour. And try to stay married for another day. 

Sound familiar? In this new reality caused by COVID-19, there’s simply so much to do. It’s easy to feel overextended and overwhelmed, yet at the same time, feel like you’re not doing enough. 

In between client calls and juggling household tasks, I’ve been taking short walks around my block to help myself destress. On a recent walk, I texted my friend Pooja Lakshmin, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at The George Washington University School of Medicine, for some sage, talk-me-off-the-ledge advice. 

“Taking care of the whole you in times like these means making space for some of the difficult feelings — the grief and sadness about birthdays, weddings, and vacations that have been cancelled, and the fear and anxiety about what the next few months holds for all of us,” she told me. “These emotions are to be expected. The best way to cope with difficult feelings is to allow yourself to feel them, while also taking steps to ground yourself by implementing routines, doing daily physical activity, and limiting your daily news intake.”

With Pooja’s permission, I gave myself an extra ten minutes to enjoy the sun, and then returned home feeling refreshed and resolved to give myself a bit of a break. I encourage you to do the same.

Negative feelings are bound to creep in. To burn the guilt and shame, zero in on what matters most.  Write down your guilty or shameful feelings on a piece of paper and take a match to it (or scissors will work too!). At the same time, try talking to your guilt and shame. You can say, “you have been with me a long time, but I am ready to let you go.”

Continue to make intentional choices that best serve your family based on what’s most valuable to you and your partner.  Ask yourselves, “What’s important and what can we let go?” Washing hands? That’s absolutely a keeper. Reorganizing the kitchen pantry top-to-bottom everyday?  You could probably loosen up on that. Remember to check in with your partner daily to align on any misunderstandings and sync up on your values.

Microstep
Set aside five minutes each day to meditate.
When you calm your mind and shut out outside noises and distractions, you’ll return to your work ready to focus and produce.

Up next: The silver lining of this crazy mess — an uptick in creativity and self-discovery. The many and varied ways people are finding their “Unicorn Space” in social isolation.  

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