How To Handle Your Dysfunctional Family When You Have to Follow a Stay At Home Order
Those with dysfunctional families are suffering perhaps the greatest torture there is: being stuck at home with their dysfunctional family for weeks or even months at a time in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. How does one stay sane during isolation when you’re stuck with the very people you don’t want to be around?
Luckily, there are some ways to make it through your stay at home orders without losing it. If your dysfunctional family is threatening to get the best of you during this time of isolation, you’ll want to follow these tips to keep it together.
If There Is Abuse Involved, You’re Not Obligated To Stay
For many, a dysfunctional family means much more than just simple arguments or other less harmful things. Unfortunately, for some, “dysfunction” includes verbal or physical abuse, or a combination thereof. Abuse is something that far too many people suffer from at the hands of truly wicked people, and it’s something you don’t have to tolerate.
It’s important to understand that “stay at home” doesn’t mean “put yourself at risk.” You still have a right to protect your personal safety, and that of your children, if there’s a domestic concern. Shelters are still operating, and many public mental health and abuse resources are still available.
If you’re in a situation where you fear you might be in some kind of physical danger, you can remove yourself, despite the stay at home orders. These orders are in place to help combat the spread of the virus by limiting social contact, but protecting your life certainly falls under “necessary travel.”
Boundaries are so important to the health of a relationship. Still, they’re something we aren’t taught, or rather, they’re not given their rightful focus as crucial components of a healthy relationship. This applies to friends, significant others, and yes, even family members. Family members especially seem to have difficulty with boundaries, especially when you’re confined in your home together.
Set firm boundaries with each person in your house. If you need quiet time at a certain part of the day, let it be known. My quiet time hours are between two and four in the afternoon. Please don’t bother me. This is just one example of a simple boundary that you can set with your family.
The amazing thing about boundaries is that they can show us who truly respects us and our wishes. When you set a new boundary, you’ll likely get one of two reactions from the people around you: pushback or acceptance. A person who truly loves and respects you won’t question a new boundary, or why you’ve set it, or take it as a personal slight against them.
The ones who value you as a person will simply agree to your new boundaries and follow them. Be patient, as a loved one might forget a time or two about the new boundary, but also know the difference between an innocent mistake and a purposeful jab at your new boundaries.
Don’t Engage In the Inflammatory Behavior
Some people get a thrill out of upsetting other people. This is emotional manipulation, however subtle it might seem. There’s no reason for someone to purposely upset another person. This kind of inflammatory behavior can be impacted by boredom (like boredom from stay at home orders) and could potentially become more frequent during your time in isolation.
The key to navigating this behavior is to ignore it and understand what it is. The person might say or do the very things they know will upset you most, but the best thing you can do is not give them that satisfaction of an emotional reaction.
As soon as you react, getting angry, upset, or any other emotional response, you’re giving away your power. You’re in control of how you react to things, not to the things that happen. You can’t control your family, and you can’t change incendiary behavior.
Even if something upsets you, don’t give in to the emotion. You can certainly voice your pain to the person causing you to feel that way, with comments such as “What you’re doing is really upsetting me, I’d like you to stop.” (This is the same as setting boundaries)
Go For A Walk
Many states’ stay at home orders still allow exercise in the form of walking around the neighborhood. When you can’t seem to escape inside your home, try leaving and going for a long walk outside. You’ll be able to clear your head, get some fresh air and sunshine, and return feeling refreshed and energized.
Sometimes, a simple break from the situation is just what everyone involved needs to come back to earth. At a time when emotions are running hot, people are scared, and there’s an overload of information, it’s easy to see why people are stressed. Remember that you can’t change any of that, but you can change how you respond to it.
Featured Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay