Lda. Elena Blanaru Lucanu is a general psychologist at Gran Alacant Family Doctors 24h
Every month she will try to answer your questions, your name will be kept in the strictest confidentiality

T: +34 610 684 970 I Email: elenablanaru@cop.es

Q. How is it best to deal with the stresses that being on lockdown has created?

A. And suddenly, one day, the normal rhythm of life to which we were accustomed, has now changed and we are at home 24 hours a day, some of us alone, some with a partner, some with kids and some with the partner and the kids. Difficult, right? You start to think, what am I going to do with so much time? How am I going to stay locked up at home 24 hours with my partner and/or with the children? And you start to feel overwhelmed … but dont panic, it isnt so serious, nor so bad to be locked up at home 24 hours alone or with your partner and children, because now is your opportunity to dedicate yourself to do things that you couldn’t before because you didn’t have time. Now is the moment to really communicate with your partner and your children, to really connect with them… but at the beginning it is possible to feel anxiety just thinking about all this, so I propose you do an exercise and then I’ll explain why it isn’t so bad to spend more time at home.

First of all, open the window or go out on the terrace or in the garden, put one hand on your upper chest and the other on your abdomen, with the little finger above the navel. This will allow you to control your movements. Breathe in slowly through your nose, so that your hand feels pressure as it rises. The hand on the chest should remain motionless (or almost). You shouldn’t breathe so deeply that you start to hyperventilate. Take a short pause in breathing before exhaling. Then slowly breathe out through the mouth, so that you feel the muscles of your abdomen descend. Remember that the hand on the chest must remain as still as possible. Repeat this a few more times. You can do this as often as you want and/or need it.

Now let’s try to think positive.
You are going to say “yes, it is easy to say, but how do I do it?” Well answer this question: “How many times before have you thought?”: Someday I will do that online Spanish course (or whatever), but I just don’t have time … or, someday I will sleep for as long as I like without the alarm clock ringing, but I can’t because I have to get up at 6:30 to go to work .. or, someday I will read these books that I have unread in my library (physical or virtual) because I don’t have time … or, someday Ill watch all those series that I would like from Netflix, HBO or Prime Video, now I can only see them on the weekends because I never have time to watch them … or, someday I wish I could spend more time with my partner, with my children, but where do I get it? (the time) … or, someday I would like to have more time for myself, to talk to my new contacts on social networks or on a dating platform (if you are single) and to whom until now you have said “Im not here a lot, because during the week I don’t have time for anything “… or, I would like to think more about myself, what I feel, what I want, what I like, reflect on how I would like to live and with who … or, someday I would like to listen to the songs of my youth, put on some headphones and dance alone, losing myself into the rhythm as if no one saw me, but I can’t afford it, I don’t have time, because in the days that I have my days off I have to clean, do the washing, or finish some pending work that I couldn’t finish during the week …

Well now YOUR TIME has come, the
time to do everything you would have liked to do before, but you couldn’t because you didn’t have time, but now you do.

Now you can see that it isn`t so difficult?
In fact, nothing is so difficult, and it’s easier than we think. Sometimes it’s us who make it difficult for ourselves, who make everything seem difficult. Situations, people, life itself, are how we perceive them, they are how we want them to be.

So, think positive, be optimistic and learn to be resilient (get something positive and come out stronger from a painful, traumatic or dramatic situation and learn something from it) …

So exercise, do some yoga, pilates, stretching, boxing, etc. (there is a lot to choose from on YouTube), eat healthy, relax and be positive.

Q. How do we cope with being allowed out again?

A. Things are not going to return to
normal in a few weeks, or even a few months. Some, in fact, never will. After quarantine, we will truly appreciate all that the Covid-19 is now depriving us of.

We´ll come out, or we should come out of this experience wiser, more prudent, more tolerant and more aware that we are not almighty, that we are human and vulnerable. We were happy before all this and we didn’t even realize it. We didn’t know how to value and appreciate what we had, or the people
who deserved our appreciation, our respect or our love, but we´ll also be aware that we´re sensitive, supportive and patient… Some of us will be stronger and others weaker, depending on how they have been able to take advantage or cope during this long period of quarantine.

But what do we want to do after this?
Well, simple things, not extraordinary,
but we missed it:

  • Hugging and kissing loved ones …
  • Taking off our pajamas and dressing up, going to the hairdresser (we´ll have to get a quick appointment)
  • Taking a long walk on the beach, or across the city …
  • Going to the gym or doing exercises outside, to remove the extra kilos that we have gained whilst being locked up …
  • Going out for breakfast, lunch, dinner…
  • Going to work without fear …
  • Applying what we´ve proposed to do after the quarantine or continuing to
  • do what we have started and have discovered that we like and that before
  • this, we didn’t do…
  • Taking more care of our health, and above all, of our mental and motional health…

Q. How do we “survive” the lockdown as a couple?

A. The situation that we are living
in has increased our negative emotions, such as fear, grief, helplessness, frustration and anger.

To totally coexist with a partner is an added stressor, since, no matter how good our relationship is, we are not used to living together 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. This is a breeding ground for possible disagreements and possibly, with greater intensity between partners. The presence of other stressors (combining teleworking with a partner, performing household chores, disputes about knowing “who has more work”, using common spaces, managing one’s own emotional state and from the other, etc.) can facilitate a possible discussion.

This is a challenge that will test the stability and later continuity of many couples. But can we approach it in another way? Can we consider this as a journey to overcome as a team? This is possible as long as we accept that to achieve this, first of all, we must be realistic, we must normalize that we all have a state of “feeling down” at some point. We´ll have days when we´ll be more positive and have more energy and others when we´ll feel apathetic, frustrated or anxious. If we accept that we all experience negative emotions and are able to manage
them properly, we can prevent a “detonation”. That is, a mismanaged outburst of anger, which would probably lead to a high-voltage discussion or argument.

Here are some guidelines to help prevent
this situation during what remains of our confinement:

Express feelings:
There are couples who talk about everything, but without “emotional intimacy”. That is, they explain things from day to day, share experiences with friends, children, etc. but they do not express what emotions they are feeling. For example, concerns about the relationship appear, but they prefer to try to normalize the day-to-day, and avoid confronting a delicate subject that could make them feel uncomfortable. Obviously, there are conflicts that accumulate and then appear suddenly due to any discussion.

Confinement is a good time to share your feelings with your partner. As always, choose a good moment when both of you can reflect out loud how you’re feeling in this situation, or any other issue. It’s important not to judge what your partner explains to you, since it’s a “gift” that they open his/her heart to you and share his/her intimate feelings with you. It would be ideal to express support and empathy for what is expressed to you. And if what you hear concerns you, try to respond (not react) calmly, respectfully and
tolerantly (tolerance is very important in situations like this).

Respect the privacy of the other and
defend your own:
As it would be done without being in lockdown, it’s healthy for each partner to enjoy some space to carry out those activities that they like to do for themselves alone, like reading, practicing yoga, writing, meditating, painting, sewing, talking with friends or family … or just “being alone”, without having to do anything or sharing this moment.

Caring for your sex life:
Day to day, routine, stress, etc., can interfere with a healthy and satisfying sex life. So let’s take advantage of these days at home to have sexual experiences that appeal to both of you, discovering new experiences in new places in the house, using sex toys etc. Also, if your sexual desire before confinement was low, you can take advantage of this time to find yourself using massages, with creams or oils that you have at home, look for information about erotic massages … and little by little, with privacy and practice, the desire will reappear within the couple.

We are experiencing an exceptional situation that tests our resistance, both individually and as a couple. We cannot avoid it, but it is up to us to choose how to live it.