How often do we get a chance to be heroes? And make a sacrifice for our city, state and country in a time of war? We must stay home to save lives. Time to hunker down.
Some are still mulling with whom to hunker. Or perhaps going solo. Talk about your big decisions! This home detention may be protracted. Marriage makes it easy – that whole better-or-worse vow. Tis a blessing to have a supportive spouse during these worst times ever for our modern world.
Should boyfriends and girlfriends hunker together? Lisa Thomas, a Colorado therapist, told me an ideal hunkering partner has a positive outlook and will add happiness to the isolation equation. Thomas adds “it’s better to not be alone so being together could provide you an opportunity to work as a team and promote attachment and bonding in the relationship.”
The World Health Organization counsels people isolated at home to not smoke, limit alcohol, exercise and try not to watch too much news. That last one’s my problem, especially given the absence of sports on television. But too much TV can lead to catastrophizing.
Thomas counsels that “catastrophizing is not helpful. It’s important that everybody stays calm and watching the news once a day is plenty. Stay focused on positive activities including work if you can, spending time with your children and loved ones and participating in relaxing activities.”
COVID-19 IN COLORADO
The latest from the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado:
- MAP: Known cases in Colorado.
- TESTING: Here’s where to find a community testing site. The state is now encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested.
- STORY: A half-million Coloradans have already signed up for the state’s new coronavirus-tracking notification tool
Some homes will be crowded, and it’s important to carve out space for privacy. Caitlin Bovard, a veteran Colorado licensed psychotherapist, told me there should be a designated place for each person, even if a corner of a room, in the shared living space so each person has a sanctuary to which they can retreat.
If necessary, Bovard suggests housemates get creative with sheets and push pins to create makeshift walls. Headphones help in tight quarters. She suggests “everyone agree on respecting these spaces and consider making do not disturb signs.”
Thomas agrees that privacy is paramount. “Respect closed doors and people’s need to have some boundaries and privacy,” she said. “Boundaries and privacy make day-to-day living feel a little bit more normal.”
It’s not ideal for everyone to be together every single second of the day.
Parents must lead by modeling good behavior and should set schedules at home including family dinnertimes. We are fortunate our two children are with us. They are smart and capable young men now.
Our challenges are far less than those with adolescents and younger children. We remember. Good parenting has rarely been more essential. It is critical spouses stay together.
Thomas urges parents talk through how they feel if they’re not on the same parenting page. She warns that, “Bottling up frustrations and unleashing them on your partner in an unproductive way is not helpful. Rather, make a conscious effort to set aside time at the beginning of the day before the children wake up or at the end of the day after the children are in bed to align your parenting styles.”
Remember that having a parenting partner is an asset right now. A family or friends working well as partners can be extremely helpful psychologically. It is an antidote against anxiety and depression.
Some single adults will have to weather this ordeal alone. Colorado’s mental health professionals are standing by to assist. As with most modern interactions, it will likely be online.
Bovard suggests, “Starting or continuing therapy is a great way to be proactive against isolation or relationship issues that may worsen under close quarters. Video sessions are safest at this time in keeping with social (or more accurately physical) distancing.”
Almost all therapists are offering video sessions now. So are communities realizing the psychological devastation this ordeal will take on people.
In his brave op-ed in The Colorado Sun, COVID-19-afflicted Vail Mayor Dave Chapin pointed to Eagle Valley’s behavioral health resources, encouraging people to reach out to a therapist for guidance on how to cope during this uncertain time.
Some households will have dissension around levels of compliance with stay at home demands. As Thomas explains, “For those in your house who won’t follow quarantine, talk to them about how you feel and make a plan in the household regarding how to handle. Maybe they’re not welcome back or maybe they need to follow a sanitary protocol in order to come back in the home.”
Don’t expect law enforcement to intervene. They’re busy with many real emergencies. We’re all our own government inside our homes. Show great leadership. Know that mental health resources are a mouse click away. We must keep as many Colorado homes as possible healthy; both physically and mentally.
Let’s support with love and online interactions the lonely and/or elderly. We have extraordinary means of contemporary communication.
We owe it to each other to reach out with companionship, kindness and love. If you’re bored, text, e-mail or call a loved one. Stay positive. Share love and ideas on great distractions as we serve our heroic home detentions.
Be a positive lifeline. We’re all in this together.
Craig Silverman is a former Denver chief deputy DA who also has worked in the media for decades. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun. He practices law at the Denver law firm of Springer & Steinberg, P.C.
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