Relationships: Untying the Lockdown Knots

This is a bizarre period we’re going through. The world is facing a pandemic; we are home quarantined and some of us are missing our friends and campus life. In these times of distress, even if we want to approach people for help, it has become difficult for us to do so. It may be a worthwhile exercise to just step back and simply understand what people are troubled with and which possible measures could help ourselves or others cope with these issues

In one of our previous articles, we shared the story of Ajit and Joy.

Joy is a first-year student. His parents’ relationship is getting worse, they are always arguing over small things and sometimes even shout at each other. Due to all this stress of uncertainty for the future and panic due to coronavirus, his family is falling apart. He feels trapped and helpless in his own home.

Many questions came to our minds while reading the previous article. What are the essential features to maintain a healthy relationship? How hard is the quarantine hitting our relationships? How to manage various difficulties that come along with relationships?

We should acknowledge that we cannot build any relationship in a day or two. It is cumulative of efforts made during the time spent together, past feelings, and current state. If there is some hasty feeling in the relationship and if it is essential for us to maintain the relationship, then we can try to focus on the good memories associated with it and subside the negative feelings.

We can understand that it is easy to preach but difficult to practice. If relationships turn sour, they can completely churn us from within. One voice from within is telling us about the negative aspects of the person, whereas the other is constantly reminding us of the importance of that person in our life. In such a situation we should try to reflect upon the relationship and if it is essential for us to maintain the relationship, then we can try accepting the failures and non-perfection of the other person without being judgemental about them. Abandoning judgment allows others to be open about their feelings in a relationship. Acceptance is a behavior characteristic, a choice that one makes, to leave behind the judgments in a relationship, and loving others as they are.

As is in the case of Joy, if the relationship of our parents is affecting us negatively, we can try to create a separate space for us until things get better. We can try to shift our attention to other things and keep ourselves engaged.

Facing problems that are beyond our hands can be difficult, but we can try to deal with the situation patiently. We would like to quote Paulo Coelho —

“We warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how.”

Ajit is a second-year undergraduate who has been feeling lonely in these tough times. Even before the quarantine started, he felt isolated on the campus; the quarantine has even increased his insecurities. He thinks he had no friends on the campus and he cannot connect with his few friends in the city.

In our previous article, we tried to understand Ajit’s problems. Also, there were many questions that were left unanswered. What measures can Ajit take to cope with his problems? What are the possible reasons for his sorrow?

Ajit has gone through many things in his two years of stay on the campus. He has felt alone and rejected; eventually, it took a toll on him and affected his self-esteem. Academic performance, a competitive and demanding environment, an inability to communicate with others, are some of the factors that can affect our self-esteem. If someone is suffering from other issues like financial problems, or parental pressure to get a good job, then the situation becomes even more difficult to handle.

In such a situation it becomes essential to have faith in ourselves. We should focus on our strengths and we should find the time and medium to express it. This will help us in feeling better and engaged in life.

It is rightly said by someone, ‘the most essential tasks are the toughest to accomplish’. To go through these tough times, we may require the help of some of our closest people, like our family. If someone is finding themselves in Ajit’s shoes and they feel that their friends are not sensitive to their feelings, it might be better to take a step back, give some space to ourselves, and ponder over our thoughts and emotions.

If the discomfort is too much in a way that we are having constant negative thoughts and we cannot meet our responsibilities as a student, then writing down your feelings or talking to ourselves to reflect upon the situation can help. We can also try to share our feelings with people close to us; talking helps us to reflect, and it opens many avenues in front of us which might not be visible before.

We can understand that this period has shown us some of the most daunting experiences. There are uncertainties and anxiety related to the future, but tie your shoes, pack a good lunch, and remember that we’re all in this together. The following coping mechanisms may be of help to people in these tough times:

  • At times of anxiety, practice breathing slowly for a few minutes. Try to distance the thoughts that are making you anxious. Think of something calm and slow down your mind.
  • When feeling angry and irritated, calming your mind, counting back from 10 to 1, distracting yourself helps.
  • Feeling lonely or sad is also quite common. Stay connected with others. Communication can help you connect with family and friends. Call up friends whom you haven’t spoken to in a long time and surprise them. Discuss joyful events, shared interests, exchange cooking tips, share music, etc.
  • When negative thoughts are occurring, switch to writing or talking and asking questions like: What is under my control? Am I unnecessarily worrying about the worst thing that can happen? When I have been stressed in the past, how have I managed? What are the things I can do to help myself and to cope up with the situation?

“The times are testing us to our full potential, but we must be strong. It might be stormy now but it can’t rain forever”.