Mair Elliott Blogs: How to still be friends with those you live with after Covid-19

If, like me, you are a person that needs plenty of personal space and time alone, you may be finding lockdown difficult if you are in a household with other people. With reduced ability to stay out of each other’s way, tensions may be soaring as time goes on. I have compiled a few tips to managing lockdown with other people:

  1. Mutually agree clear boundaries

Make sure you define and communicate to other people in the house what is okay and what is not okay. We all have little flaws and habits that might annoy other people, and vice versa, your housemates might have habits that really annoy you. In normal circumstances you may be able to cope with these things; however, in lockdown when you are forced to spend more time together you might find that you can no longer cope with those annoying little flaws.

Have a calm, open conversation about these habits and behaviours. Give everyone in the house the opportunity to express what they are finding difficult about living in close quarters with other people during lockdown. Mutually agree some boundaries, or rules, that help to keep the peace between everyone – and stick to them.

  1. Alone Zones

If you are a fan of the US sitcom ‘Brooklyn 99’, you will understand the reference. Listen to Terry. Alone zones are a good idea in lockdown.

For anyone who has no idea what I’m talking about, alone zones are areas in the house that each person has set as their own personal space in which they must be left alone and others cannot enter. So, my alone zones are my bedroom and the bench at the back of the garden. It’s important that everyone has a space for themselves in which they can be left alone. Everyone in the house needs to respect each other’s alone zones.

Of course, you need to be reasonable when choosing an alone zone. For example, you can’t have one in a communal space like the bathroom or the kitchen!

  1. Walk away when anger rises

Anger makes everyone feel uncomfortable, so it’s important to keep it away from others.

Tempers may well rise, and arguments might break out. When you notice that you are getting angry, particularly if you’re angry at someone else, take a breath before you do or say anything. Walk away from the situation, maybe take the 1-a-day exercise or go to your alone zone. Do whatever it is that helps you bring your anger down.

Many of us have had our routines messed up, we may have forgotten to eat properly and maybe our sleep has been messed up. You might be ‘hangry’ (hungry + angry), or grumpy because you are tired. So, consider having something nutritious to eat if you haven’t eaten, or acknowledging that you’re tired.

When you are calm, go back and have a conversation about what made you angry and how to avoid it in the future.

  1. Do something fun together

Having fun is important in order to break the boredom, keep everyone happy and release some of the tension. If you are following Dafydd James’ stay-at-home exercises, maybe do it together. If you are following an online yoga programme, consider doing it together. Or, you could watch a film together, play a board game, do some baking together.  Find a way to have some fun doing a joint activity. It’s important in times like these to find ways to feel joy and laugh out loud, and there is no better way than to do this together.

  1. Be mindful that everyone is feeling anxious and stressed

These are really distressing times for everyone. It is okay to feel anxious and stressed. Sometimes when we are anxious and stressed it can be harder to get along with other people. We need to keep in mind that everyone is finding this difficult, therefore, we need to be extra kind and forgiving with the people around us and with ourselves. We will get through this together.