Mental Health Tips for Self-Isolation: Boundaries

How to make it through social distancing without being able to distance yourself.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced millions of people around the world to stay at home and self-isolate. The process of self-isolation is becoming commonplace these days. What we know so far about COVID-19 is that limiting social contact is unquestionably the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus. But that doesn’t make the situation easy for all of us self-quarantined, right?

Many relationship experts and lawyers believe that coronavirus quarantine will lead to a rise in divorce rates in the UK. Why? Because quarantined couples are forced to spend too much time together at home with no obvious end in sight. In fact, the significant spike in divorce rates has already been recorded in China after coronavirus quarantine.

Many of us are concerned about how are we going to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you are quarantined in unfamiliar surroundings or confined within your own home, spending too much time with other people can be a big challenge, no matter how much you love them.

So, social distancing works against the spread of coronavirus, but how to implement it at home? And why is important to set boundaries in quarantine?

Boundaries help set limits, practice self-care, and self-respect, and allow us to make space for positive interactions. Here are six useful tips on how to set boundaries and keep sanity during coronavirus quarantine and self-isolation.

Create Time Apart

When we are stuck together, creating time by yourself is an important part of self-care. Establish a routine and have designated time during the day for yourself. Isolation is an opportunity to finally read all those books on your reading list, listen to your favorite music, write a journal, or watch almost forgotten movies. Spending time alone is vital in maintaining healthy personal boundaries.

Choosing to spend time alone means making self-care a priority and permitting yourself to put yourself first. Self-care means recognising the importance of your feelings and being at peace with yourself. And when you have a better relationship with yourself, you will be more present with others too.

Set Boundaries Towards Children

Spending 24 hours at home still doesn’t mean that you are available 24/7. Make clear to your kids that mum or dad cannot play all day long/help finish all homework because you need to do your job. And to chill out, after all. Set the rules and involve your kids in boundary setting. Allow them to create their own boundaries towards you and siblings and even draw up a contract, why not!?

Post the rules where everyone can see them. Be a good role model and respect your children’s needs for time apart, social media time, etc. This will encourage them to respect your and each other’s boundaries as well.

Have Designated Work/Study Spaces

Millions of people around the world work and study from home these days. While it may seem tempting to stay in your PJs all day, remote working or studying may become overwhelming at some point. Especially if you have to juggle between your work and your kids’ online lessons. To alleviate stress and tension, have separated work and study spaces in your home (if your living space allows).

Put your time management skills at work and ensure you aren’t working all the time. Make sure you add in breaks. If you have a backyard or a balcony, go outside for a vitamin D break. Try to establish a home and work-life boundary while in self-isolation to avoid piling extra stress. Also, it is useful to designate different areas of your home as ‘work/study’, ‘relax’, or ‘privacy’ spaces. Discuss this with your family members and draw up rules together about different home spaces such as play corner, office corner, or alone corner.

We are all confined in our homes and cope with the crisis the best we can. However, we need to give strength to one another during these times of uncertainty. Setting boundaries is key in protecting your mental health and strengthening your relationships in isolation.

Find Shared Interests or Activities

Create fun nights for the whole family to enjoy. Organize date nights, movie nights, pajama parties, or game nights with your partner, family members, or roommates. Try to make a mindset shift and recognize self-isolation as an opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones and strengthen your bonds. Self-isolation may be a good opportunity to do family projects that will occupy everyone, help pass the time in isolation, and enhance family relationships.

Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude

Mindfulness meditation allows you to tune into your feelings and practice self-awareness. Heightened anxiety may create strong emotional reactions of fear, frustration, sadness, or anger. Mindfulness allows you to pay attention to your responses when experiencing these emotions. Also, research has shown that mindfulness helps lower stress levels, giving you tools to respond more constructively under pressure. It can improve your mood and increase optimism, boost your memory and concentration.

Similarly, mindfulness practice can improve your confidence, enhance your emotional control, and improve relationships with other people. Don’t forget to treat each other with compassion and kindness. Practice gratitude. Appreciate yourself for everything you are going through and extend these feelings of gratefulness to those around you.

Set Emotional Boundaries

Emotional boundaries should protect your ability to separate your emotions and needs from others. In circumstances of self-isolation, it is easier to be greatly affected by other people’s words or actions. When you have week emotional boundaries, you are more likely to be vulnerable, engage in conflicts with others, and end up feeling hurt and battered. So, don’t allow your family member’s mood to dictate your level of stress, sadness, or anxiety. Resist the pressure to entertain your kids all day long, to please your partner, and to take responsibility for your family members’ feelings and problems.

It’s not safe to assume the other person feels the same about the crisis we are going through because assumptions generate wrong expectations and resentment. None of us have gone through such experience before and it is normal that we all cope with this crisis differently. Prioritize health and safety at the moment and put big and difficult arguments on hold. Don’t use the quarantine tension as an opportunity to exaggerate all of your ongoing relationship issues.

And, if you feel like you would want to distract yourself while building resilience, there’s always eQuoo…

Take good care and stay safe,

Silja

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1 thought on “Mental Health Tips for Self-Isolation: Boundaries”

  1. Jón Ferrier

    Silja, a very timely and helpful piece. I am now at the end of week two of ‘home’ working and have never been busier. What I have failed to realise until recently is the boundary concept. If you don’t draw a distinction between work and home life you run the risk of getting worn out to the point of ineffecttiveness; no good for the business or home life. I’m trying now with a few things and hope to remain effective in both camps and not needing to call a lawyer….

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