We all experience periods of uncertainty and fear in our lives. Whether it is fear of committing to a new relationship, worries about whether you should separate or start divorce proceedings, how you will manage financially after your separation or how you will cope with the children spending time with your ex-partner. Over the last fortnight, many of us have realised that there is also an unseen fear or enemy; covid-19.
I say that covid 19 is an unseen enemy but the reality is that it is everywhere. You can’t turn on the television, log onto face book or read a newspaper without reading all about the latest statistics. That in turn can just heighten your anxieties and fears.
For those of you who are going through a separation or divorce and are already anxious about how you will cope after divorce, covid-19 is an additional stressor. Who would have thought that a few short months ago that we used to think that a relationship breakdown or a house move were two of the most stressful life experiences that we had to cope with. Now, it feels like we are living in a different world. One where fear can easily be as damaging as the coronavirus.
How do we overcome fear?
First off, whilst some people may call me an expert, I am a great believer in listening and finding out what works for you in overcoming your fears. Whilst you may not know it we all have the power to manage our fears whether they are about:
- Feeling alone because you have ended a relationship
- Worried about your job and finances because of covid-19
- Concerned about where you will live and how you will manage financially after your divorce
- Frightened about letting your children spend time with your ex-partner in case they fall ill when they are not with you
- Feelings of not be able to cope with home schooling your children and not being able to cope with life as a separated parent and coronavirus.
In addition to all these fears, many of us are also worrying about our parents or loved ones, especially if they are elderly or have underlying health conditions and are self-isolating or shielding. On a practical note, this may be making life harder for you if you are used to parents or grandparents helping out with child care or just being available to do all the things you don’t normally have the time to do.
Confronting your fears can be one of the hardest things to do. In my work with clients and with my online community I provide lots of information to people who find themselves having to make relationship decisions and to face up to their fears so that they can successfully move on with their lives.
Fear about covid-19 is no different than coping with the fears of separating from a narcissist or a toxic individual. Here are my five top tips for managing your fears, whether they are coronavirus related worries or fears about your separation or divorce:
- Embrace your fears
You are not alone. Everyone has fears. Some of us are very good at acknowledging and recognizing them but others of us are not. Give yourself permission to say that you are frightened. Embracing your fears diminishes them; like when you stand up to a bully.
- Get help
It is easy to feel totally overwhelmed and isolated during lockdown. You are not alone. There is help. Lots of counsellors (myself included) are offering skype or facetime or phone or online help.
If it is a practical or legal worry that is making you fearful then it is best to get an answer. Family lawyers will be able to offer legal advice during the
lockdown or during your self-isolation through telephone appointments, face time or Skype calls. It may feel as though you are alone but you aren’t.
- Distance yourself from the news
Whilst we all need to know what is going on in the world outside of the confines of our own homes, don’t spend too long watching 24 hour news coverage on the television or by avidly reading all there is to know about covid 19.
There is a balance to be struck between what you need to know to keep you and your family healthy and information overload.
If your ex-partner is bombarding you with communications over your separation, divorce or contact with the children then you need to block them out to a manageable level (if you need to stay in touch because of your children) or block them altogether if they are just venting their covid 19 frustrations and fears onto you in texts and messages about your relationship breakdown or divorce as a means of letting off steam.
- Find your routine
Whether you are trying to work from home, schooling the children or coping with being confined indoors for long parts of the day then the one of the answers to fear is routine; whether that is a work or schooling schedule, exercise schedule or eating and sleeping schedule.
That is because whilst you may find that life seems out of control because of the coronavirus or your ex-partner’s behavior, you can gain back some control by doing something as simple as following a daily routine.
Remember that even if you are stuck at home you still need to find time to do something nice for yourself, even if it something as simple as hot bath whilst the children re-watch a video or learning how to paint your nails in the absence of being able to go to a nail salon.
- Be kind
You may be feeling pretty miserable if you are feeling isolated because of covid 19 or maybe it is because you are combining self-isolation with a recent separation or your ex-partner just doesn’t understand how worried you are about the children travelling to them for contact. If you can put how you are feeling aside for a few minutes to be kind to someone else I can guarantee that you will feel better.
Being kind doesn’t have to be a big deal. It can be as simple as suggesting a skype bed time story for a separated parent or grandparent or offering to get someone’s food whilst you are doing your own shop or just smiling at someone whilst maintaining your social distance. Sometimes, it really is the little things that help you, your family and neighbours and your community the most.
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