China was the first country to quarantine on account of Covid-19. Even in January, the most affected regions had already decreed confinement. After the first months, an unusual scenario has been calling attention: the increased number of divorces .
Local newspapers report an above average run on registries for those who do not intend to continue under the same roof. But why does this happen in times when more unity and care are required?
Quarantine and the effects on the brain
No country goes through a pandemic without being affected in any way. The same is true of us, human beings, who are bio-psycho-socio-spiritual beings. In addition to the physical ills that a pandemic virus can cause us, the state of constant threat and vulnerability also affects us negatively. In addition, we still have the necessary protection and withdrawal measures , which have their effective side, however, which brings difficulties and side effects.
The constant state of threat, characteristic of the pandemic, causes us to:
- Extreme anxiety,
- Concern about the disease,
- Fearof contamination,
- Fear of the effects on the economy,
- High level of stress,
- Depressive symptoms,
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress,
- Mental confusion,
- Substance abuse.
In addition, we have confinement, social isolation, and the so-called home office, which is to bring your work into the home.
Confined, we are prevented from carrying out some leisure activities that we were used to, we broke important bonds and changed our routine, focusing exclusively on our attention to the domestic environment. Depressive, anxious and post-traumatic stress symptoms also arise due to confinement.
Finally, we have the characteristics of the home, with its joys and problems commonly found in everyday life.
All of this adds up and falls on the members of that house, who are now all together, with their children exclusively at home and who have to deal with a whirlwind of emotions and feelings, with real problems, without letting everything that they have built up collapse years, without allowing the sum of so many effects and symptoms to manifest themselves in the form of fights and conflicts.
What to do, then?
If the pandemic takes us out of our ” window of tolerance ”, that is, from what we are able to deal with without going into inappropriate emotional states, then how can we mitigate the effects on marriage, with children or members of the household?
In the face of the crisis, everyone needs to go through phases until stabilization arrives. We go through fear, despair, denial, until we reach stabilization. However, it is necessary to understand that each one has their time to go through each phase, some have more structure, more resources to get attached, they arrive alone, others need professional help, external resources.
We are all under the same storm, but not everyone is or has the same boat. Psychic structures are different, because they are formed differently, because the realities and circumstances of life are different. It is necessary to understand that each one deals with the way they can. Some deal more quickly, others need more time. Some were stabilized before, others had been dealing with difficulties before, with psychological, physical issues, at work, in the relationship. The first step is to understand this.
The second attitude that can help is to carry out actions together, as a couple. Prepare lunch together, set the table together, have tea together at an unusual time, stop in the middle of the day for a coffee together where you can talk a little more, in a relaxed way, not losing the space and moments of the couple before so much demand.
The couple must also preserve some routines. So getting up, changing clothes, putting on special clothes, after all, the image counts a lot. When we get dressed, we give the other a sign that he is special. Main meal times, work, rest, leisure, spirituality and faith. Also having the moment alone, a moment of meeting oneself with oneself, to think, to analyze oneself, to be distracted as well, to redo oneself alone and to be able to improve coexistence.
Another important attitude is connections. There may be fights, differences, crises and difficulties, but if there is a connection, if there is that feeling of “the storm has arrived, but we are together in this”, there is also the certainty that everything will be fine for the couple. Therefore, strengthening the connections is fundamental and it is the moments together that accomplish this.
What you can’t miss
What can never be missing, especially in times of crisis, is to take care of your mental health . As has been said, we are bio-psycho-socio-spiritual beings, and if we are not doing well in any of these instances, it is impossible for us to get our relationships going well. After all, we affect and are affected by where we are. If we are in trouble, our marriage will be in trouble, our job, our role as parents, children, members of a society will also be in trouble.
We have to take care of ourselves.
That is the function of therapy. Resorting to it, when necessary, is indispensable. We cannot give up the means we have to advance in health and quality of life. The moments of crisis will arise, such as this, that of the pandemic, but with it come the tools to go through well.
As an EMDR therapist that I am, we see this in practice, after all, it is known worldwide through publications in scientific magazines the effects of intervention protocols for moments of crisis, where, applying the protocols we have in EMDR therapy, reducing traumatic effects on the brain , even postponing the installation of TEPT.
Dr. Ignacio Jarero’s publications on actions in crisis situations such as Hurricane Pauline, earthquakes in Haiti, refugees from the Syrian war, etc., give us the certainty that it is possible to do more than remedy the pathological condition , but rather, preventing a more severe disorder from setting in. Ordinary people and professionals working in crisis benefit a lot and protect themselves by strengthening their resources.
What if I already encounter psychopathology?
The last thing to do is to waste time. To let it be, is to allow a psychopathological framework / psychic pain to generate suffering for oneself, for relationships and for others.
Seek help. EMDR therapy is quite a tool . Developed in the 1980s from new discoveries in neuroscience, it is recognized and recommended by the World Health Organization as one of only two psychotherapies for treating trauma.
It is defined as a first-line tool for several psychopathological conditions, mainly because trauma is the sustenance and basis for numerous diagnoses. EMDR is recommended by the Psychology Association and the American Psychiatric Association, in addition to numerous other health institutions and agencies.
There are hundreds of studies that demonstrate its positive results for the treatment of diverse conditions, being classified as an evidence-based therapy.