The lockdown has been like an intermission for many with busy schedules. Though it is a good opportunity to spend time with one’s family, the ever-extending lockdown may cause annoyance, frustration and depression among members. Staying together for 24 hours, the family bond may strengthen, but interpersonal problems may develop too for many reasons. Stating that such problems can cause frustration and anxieties, psychologists suggest maintaining a healthy relationship by caring for one’s self and members.
Dr Krista Rajkarnikar, chartered counselling psychologist and lead psychologist at Psychology Care and Consultancy, Bhanimandal has observed a growing evidence of people experiencing interpersonal problems in the family.
“Lack of boundaries, not having enough personal space and having to share everything can be very different to one’s usual schedule and how one likes to function on a daily basis,” points out Dr Rajkarnikar, adding, “The lockdown and worries related to COVID-19 can cause negative thinking and dysfunctional emotions. These can very easily be transferred on to one’s family members. If you are struggling with interpersonal difficulties that cannot be resolved or processed, and the situation becomes dangerous, please seek immediate help.”
Dr Ritesh Thapa, Director and Consultant Psychiatrist at Rhythm Neuropsychiatry Hospital, Ekantakuna, has also been observing increasing cases of anxiety and symptoms of depression during the lockdown. “Not all family members have sound relationship with each other. Chances of family dispute are high in a large family, or one with an alcoholic member,” he observes and adds, “But sometimes, misunderstandings cannot be solved. In case of domestic violence, one should inform the police or family relatives; if not, s/he should focus on being safe.” He suggests taking lockdown positively. “Lockdown is an opportunity to clear misunderstandings, resolve past mistakes, recall good memories and strengthen the family bond.”
Dr Rajkarnikar opines the lockdown can be a great opportunity to reconnect, make new memories and relax with one’s family.
Communication is a must
The psychologists advise all to communicate regularly with family members. “Communicate effectively with family members, so all concerns are heard and understood. Time together can be positive to help nourish, strengthen and develop your relationship. Make sure you communicate your difficulties and frustrations with your partner and try to make feasible adjustments that work for both,” suggests Dr Rajkarnikar.
Engage in family activities
Revealing that many are Makes history becoming first Nepali-origin musician to reach this stage in AI hooked to mobile phones for 24 hours, Dr Thapa emphasises on engaging in different family activities together like cleaning, cooking, gardening, painting, reading, music, rather than hanging on to one’s phone.
“Parents can teach children different activities, and children can help in their parents’ household work. They can do yoga and normal exercises together by watching on the Internet, and learning and teaching each other.”
Dr Rajkarnikar stresses on engaging in personal activities that gives space to oneself. “Make time for valuable and meaningful activities where relationships can grow. For example, if you need space from each other, engage in different activities. If you want to stay more connected in case you are far away from each other, make sure you spend time with each other in meaningful ways virtually,” she says while making sure to take care of one’s mental health so that one will not transfer frustration, anxiety and anger on family members.
Adopt simple lifestyle
Dr Thapa suggests all to adopt a simple lifestyle. He explains if the lockdown gets extended further, the members may face depression or frustration due to financial problems. “Family members should plan micromanagement. This is not the time to lead a normal lifestyle and spend money as before. They can discuss together on things that can be deducted to curb expenses. For example, they can limit food items if they had habit of eating varieties at a time,” he says. Dr Rajkarnikar also suggests creating a feasible and adjustable schedule that caters to all members and also to acknowledge that everyone is facing some kind of difficulty during this time.
A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 19, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.