How to navigate shared spaces that don’t invite in more panic
Here are some invitations and practices to support navigating shared spaces during the Rona.
Whether you willingly choose to live with others or are doing so because most folks can’t afford to live alone, carving out space for yourself can be a difficult but necessary process in supporting your well being. As we continue to be bombarded with new COVID-19 studies, cases and deaths, feelings of instability, paranoia, anger, isolation, panic, depression and decreased desires are all legitimate responses.
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Here are some invitations and practices to support navigating shared spaces during the Rona:
- Negotiate and outline agreements with your housemates. Check in to see if previous agreements still work and which, if any, need to be renegotiated. These are important practices in general, but during a pandemic, they’re vital.
- Limit your conversations about COVID-19. Constant exposure to news mixed with household apocalypse prep is exactly what it sounds like… a disaster. The folks in your home likely have different coping mechanisms and triggers and there’s a great likelihood that you will trigger one another. Complicated feelings will come up, now’s the time to set the container for them.
- Be clear about whether or not you’re comfortable having visitors. Shelter in place orders are being instituted all over the world, and some housemates may prefer to leave while others may prefer to share space with folks they feel closer to and potentially invite them into your current dwellings.
- Set some time aside to talk about your fears. This can also be an opening into conversations about what medical interventions you may prefer should you become unresponsive. Or who to reach out to if there is a medical emergency. Just as neighbors have been known to look out for each other during crises, becoming informal rapid response teams, there’s a possibility to do the same with housemates.
- Be transparent about what your boundaries, needs and requests are during this moment. Now’s the time to get real clear on processes that work for the individuals as well as assessments about the collective needs within the home.
- Put a box of games, coloring books and fun things in common spaces. It gives you the opportunity to engage with your roommates (if you’d like) without everything feeling heavy or high stakes. If you have a karaoke mic, now’s the perfect time to pull it out!
- If you share a room, set up a schedule where you get some time to yourself. In shared spaces, folks often feel like they can’t make requests because it isn’t completely “theirs”. You get to make requests and not burden yourself with folks’ presence when you need to take a break from people.
- If you’re an introvert, it’s especially important to stick to your boundaries. Introverts are often drained by the outside world and social interaction. My first two weeks of sheltering in place were difficult because I felt trapped inside a house with multiple people with no real option of leaving. I stayed in my room a lot.
- Open up a window if you have one and smell the outside. If you don’t have a window, imagine one up. You can paint, draw or simply envision one.
- Test out a new morning practice: Make yourself some tea. Lotion your body for fifteen whole minutes. Set some intentions. Ground yourself in whatever way feels most natural to you.
- Welcome the potential to appear selfish. Our lives are filled with the idea that we have to constantly be “on” with people. That our mere presence can sometimes be an inconvenience, but there’s nothing wrong with doing things for ourselves. In fact, when we take care of ourselves in this way, it models/ invites others to do the same.