Question: How do I set boundaries while living in close quarters with other people?
Answer: Hello, dear friends. I’ve heard from many of you over the past week about the various ways you’re dealing with the Covid-19 crisis and facing the reality of living in quarantine. Here’s a sample of questions I’ve received:
- How do I care for my parents who can’t care for themselves?
- How do I adjust to being at home with my spouse all the time?
- I’m single living alone. How do I stay connected and avoid loneliness?
- How do I work from home and take care of my kids?
These are all legitimate questions. So, let me pass along some universal advice that can help regardless of your situation, especially during a crisis:
Structure is your friend.
It’s never more important to create and stick to a schedule than when your world turns upside down. You need structure to help you through any major adjustment (let alone a global one!)
Whether you are married or single, parenting young kids or in an empty nest, setting up a daily routine during this crisis will help you stay sane. Here are fours ways to start.
4 Ways to Set Boundaries in Close Quarters with Other People
1. Designate your own space
Do you have a place to go when you need to decompress? A place to work and a place to rest? It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be yours.
Do other members of your household understand what spaces they can use, when? Take a moment and decide who goes where at what times. Designate quiet hours and use signs to ward off interruptions. Ordering your space will help create order in your mind.
2. Divide your day into smaller chunks
Without structure, the tail can wag the dog. You might find yourself working 12-hour days or not taking a moment away from your kids. If you live alone, long hours in isolation can sneak up on you unless you schedule digital socializing breaks. Flying by the seat of your pants might work for a few days, but it is not sustainable over time.
Keep it simple at first – don’t overwhelm yourself. Start with the most important daily needs and try to hit each one each day, such as:
Eat, work, play, rest, connect, move, sleep.
Repeat: eat, work, play, rest, connect, move, sleep.
As you hit those marks, your creativity will start to kick in. You’ll discover new rhythms and get into a new routine.
3. Check-in each day with your emotions
There is a lot of talk about the importance of moving your body, and I couldn’t agree more. But, it’s equally important to spend time checking in with your emotional and thought life each day as well.
For many of us, the current crisis is a bit of a detox—it affects our usual forms of coping, our ways of being in the world (good and bad). It’s like a sugar detox. When you remove your typical forms of coping, it can feel worse before it feels better.
When your routines are stripped away, vulnerable feelings start to surface. If you’re noticing a wide range of emotions in yourself, your spouse, your kids, or your friends—don’t be surprised. And, don’t be discouraged by it.
Instead, take time each day to check-in with what you are thinking and feeling. Naming what you’re thinking and feeling helps create order in your mind. You don’t have to fix these emotions—just become more aware. You might journal, schedule time to process with a friend, or take a walk with God and receive his compassion.
4. Increase your social support
Social distancing does not mean social isolation. You need to connect with others and ask for help. Here are some ideas:
- Schedule phone calls or FaceTime with friends at regular intervals.
- Locate an online counselor. For ideas see my article here.
- Numerous homeschooling organizations are offering resources for free. Check out this website for details.
- Numerous churches are providing online programming for adults and for kids.
Since these options are digital, many of them are available to anyone, no matter where you live.
For example, I taught a free webinar earlier this week called, “Setting Boundaries in Close Quarters.” If you missed this vital instruction, click here to watch the recording and share it with others.
Ladies, don’t give up hope. In the coming days, you will see the very best of yourself, and you might see the worst of yourself. You will see the best of your loved ones, and you might see their worst. Both are expected. Both are welcome.
Give thanks for the former, give grace for the latter. And, rest assured, you are going to come out the other side stronger.
Join the conversation. Leave a comment below:
In what ways does living in close quarters with others affect you? Which of the 4 steps described above have you tried and how did it help?
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