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Last updated April 2020

Maintaining relationships during COVID-19

As one of the UK's largest providers of relationship support, we spoke to Relate ahead of their webinar with ACO about some tips for maintaining relationships, both with colleagues and family, during this present time and while home-working. 

Relationships will be hugely important for getting us all through this period, however self-isolation, social distancing and other concerns may also place them under added pressure.

Maintaining relationships with colleagues; here are some practical tips:

Daily communication: This is vital for you and your colleagues, so step up your daily communication to increase team clarity, momentum and to combat feelings of isolation. If anything over communicate by writing (and speaking) more than your natural tendency to avoid things being missed by colleagues.

Start the day together: Consider trialling a morning huddle everyday on Skype/Zoom with cameras on. A quick meeting (no more than 15 minutes) with a different team member chairing every day.

Agree communication channels. Think about how often and how best to communicate with each other, including which channels to use. The challenge here is to recreate some of the chat and camaraderie that you might enjoy in the office, but without it being too annoying or distracting.

Keep a work routine. Try getting up at a similar time as if you were travelling into the office (get out of your PJ’s into comfy work gear) to ‘fake commute’ in.  Consider how you set up your workstation each day, preferably away from other people in the household. Sitting near a window or natural light is a mood booster

End the work day.  Be strict about logging off when your day is done, close down your work PC and hide all work related paraphilia in a box or cupboard out of eyes view.  Get changed into different clothes in the evening and perhaps organise a virtual drink/meet-up with friends and/or family.

Relationships at home, with your partner:

Our relationships aren't built on the expectation that you'll be spending all day, every day with that person, so give yourself a break if you're find it challenging. The key thing to remember is that for now, a new 'normal' needs to be developed so that you can both cope with being in such close quarters. 

Almost a quarter of surveyed Brits* who have a partner (23%) say the current circumstances are placing pressure on their relationship; whilst 27% of respondents in a relationship are finding their partner irritating right now (22% of men compared to 31% of women).

Here are some tips to help maintain a relationship with your partner:

§  Your routines and roles may change if one or both of you are working from home. This could be a challenge or an opportunity so try to make it work for you by checking in regularly about how this is working.

§  You may want to know as much as possible about the situation whereas your partner may prefer to take each day as it comes. Remember that there are many different ways of coping in stressful situations and your way isn’t the only way.

§  Something you usually find irritating about your partner may become useful in a crisis or they may surprise you by how well they are handling things. Let them know how much you appreciate this.

§  Big and difficult conversations may need to be put on hold while you deal with the current situation; if you’ve been arguing with your partner over a particular issue, consider calling a truce during this period to make living under one roof more bearable.

§  You may have older parents or other family members with health problems and you may have particular worries about these people.  Try to understand if your partner needs to prioritise these people at the moment.

§  You can leave your house once a day to exercise so try a short walk/run or walking the dog, to give yourself some space and help reduce any tensions. Do continue to follow government guidance and practice social distancing.  

§  If you’re not in the same house, get creative about how you stay in touch. For example you could arrange a date night via video messaging where you both eat dinner together and chat.

Relate is proud to be here for you during this time, offering high quality, effective webcam counselling, phone counselling and Live Chat. We have availability right now to help you find ways to handle the huge impact of this situation on yourself, your family and the health of your relationships – all from your own sofa. You can also visit our dedicated COVID-19 area on relate.org.uk for lots of information and support.

Relate Webinar

ACO will be running a joint webinar with Relate on Thursday 7th May to speak to ACO members about what support they can provide to members' beneficiaries to help them maintain healthy relationships now and in the future. For joining details please email hannah@aco.uk.net 

*Online survey of 2,021 general respondents nationally representative carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Relate, 9-14 April 2020.