For some people, it is difficult to be alone during COVID-19

Key points

  • Isolation and loneliness are now causing health problems, but those who don’t have time to be alone are also struggling.
  • Blurred work-life balance boundaries, increased childcare and more housework can cause stress in any family or relationship.
  • There are many effective ways to start a conversation about getting more time alone.

The focus on mental health during COVID-19 has been focused on the effects of isolation and loneliness, and this is for good reason. Numerous studies have shown that lack of social interaction with others not only leads to depression, But it may even shorten your life.

On the other hand, they are not used to such a united family. Adult children may have moved back. In fact, the younger children who are doing their homework are still at home rather than in the summer camp. The boundary between work and life has basically been erased, and housework is a battlefield. All this will exacerbate tensions, and no matter what your situation is, you are certainly not alone.

“In the beginning, many families and couples enjoyed the extra time together, but then it dragged on,” said Carrie Mead, a psychotherapist at LCPC. “Many people cannot achieve a healthy balance between quiet, independent, and autonomous time while meeting the needs of their partners, children and other family members.”

Conscious (but temporary) decoupling

Psychotherapist Dr. Dana Dorfman said that part of the difficulty lies in the wrong idea that when you love someone, you choose to spend all of your time on that person. There is an old saying that “absence makes the heart lovable” exists for a reason.

“The separation or boundary between body and emotion is essential for healthy adult relationships,” she said. “Although human beings are social creatures, relying on interpersonal relationships and connections to maintain emotions, we also need time alone to think, nourish and take care of ourselves. This is what complements our personality.”

Sometimes, if you are a member of a husband and wife rather than a member of the family, time alone may be more difficult because it may make other people-even yourself-feel rejected rather than self-care . But this will exacerbate more stress.

Alyza Berman, LCSW

From what I have seen with clients, everyone feels suffocated and overwhelmed by the lack of separation. This is an adjustment for many couples, because the most time they spend together is usually on vacation, not for so long.

— Alyza Berman, LCSW

Warning sign

Sometimes it is difficult to realize or admit that your main problem is to want everyone around you to back off for a while. Jessica Marie Ortiz, a licensed clinical social worker, said these are common signs that you may need some time alone:

  • irritability
  • Feel thin
  • Physical problems related to chronic stress, such as insomnia, digestive problems, headaches
  • Grumpy
  • Not interested in activities, especially activities with family or spouse
  • Feeling distracted or having difficulty concentrating

If you find yourself lacking a sense of humor, feeling down or anxious, or feeling upset about events that didn’t disturb you in the past, these may be good signs that you need time alone.

Speak freely

The main and possibly the most uncomfortable strategy for getting more time alone is to demand it. Conducting this kind of dialogue can be challenging, especially when the tension in the family is already severe. But with this in mind, clinical psychologist Annie Varvaryan, PsyD suggests: You may be the first person to ask for time alone, but you may not be the only person who needs it.

“Acknowledge the current difficulties,” she suggested. “Talk about previous situations and how they have changed. This can reveal the reality and how you need to adapt as a couple, family, and individual.” She also suggested:

  • Express your needs concisely.
  • Specify what you need, such as having a certain amount of time to read a book without interruption.
  • Being considerate of the needs of others, and willing to provide them with time to be alone.

More strategies to consider

In addition to “talking” with your cohabitant, there are other ways to spend time alone.

  • From the little things. Ortiz suggests that instead of aiming for 30 minutes or more from the start, it is better to set aside shorter, more manageable time alone. She said this may only take five minutes without the need to help or care for other people.
  • go out. A large number of studies have shown that even in an urban environment, as long as you sit outdoors, Can promote health and reduce anxiety and stress levels. Mead recommends that you keep the equipment inside, and if possible, simply sit with nature and see it as a rest in every aspect, not just a change of scenery.
  • Imitate the working day environment. Working from home can free people from commuting, but it can also mean that there is no end other than bedtime. Alyza Berman, a licensed clinical social worker, says that creating better boundaries can help. She recommends dressing up for work, kissing each other “goodbye”, and having a work space where you leave at a certain time.
  • Cultivate your own interest. Varvaryan says that it is helpful to find an activity that belongs only to you, without your partner, children or other cohabitants. For example, you can exercise, watch virtual concerts, develop hobbies or meditate.
  • Being alone.Opening up your own time does not necessarily mean you have Being alone, it just means you need to take a break with the people around you every day. Varvaryan recommends arranging an online “coffee conversation” with friends, or just chatting over the phone. But remember, if this also makes you feel exhausted, it may be better to be truly alone.

What this means to you

Making time for yourself and expressing your need for alone time will have real lasting benefits for your mental health and relationships. Try these strategies and see which ones work for you.

“Once you master some of these methods, you will find that implementing it is not that daunting,” Ortiz said. “When we recharge, it will be easier to release our guilt or stress, which will make it easier for us to come up with what we need and give to others in turn.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may receive updated information while reading this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, please visit our Coronavirus News page.