Surely the SARS-CoV-2 virus is the single, most powerful enemy that the world is trying to fight off collectively these days. But if you’re a married woman, who is locked in with in-laws you just can’t get along with-you know that you also have a personal battle to fight.
Perhaps, the deadlier virus of constant nagging, taunts, and conflicts with your in-laws will also rise with each passing day of the lockdown. A lack of space and invasion of your privacy topped with taunts and cold behaviour every now and then—the inescapable situation surely seems like the devil’s devious plan.
“Any constant source of nagging/poking/interference can disturb your mental health under normal circumstances. But, given the present situation of the unimaginable widespread of covid-19, being locked down with a set of nosy in-laws will surely test your patience and mental health,” agrees Dr. Poonam Poonia, Ph.D in clinical psychology and psychotherapist at Wellstar Clinic Diagnostic Pvt. Ltd., Gurugram and W- Pratiksha Hospital, Gurugram.
She adds that the anxiety stemming from the fear of getting infected, the financial insecurities, and the utter frustration of not being able to step out is likely to get worse with constant nagging or poking by your in-laws living with you during the covid-19 pandemic lockdown. This, in turn, can escalate tensions and disturb the peace and harmony at home.
Unfortunately, you cannot run away or turn your house into an actual battleground. You can, however, take these steps recommended by Dr Poonia to deal with your situation more sensibly:
1. Acceptance is key
Due to the restricted movement during the lockdown, you will always have your in-laws right in your face and it might just feel like living inside a pressure cooker all the time. This may lead to several showdowns, meltdowns, tantrums, and oppositional behaviour as the days go by and your frustration builds up in the coming weeks.
It is important for you to know and accept that there’s no option but to deal with it and that you’re not the only one facing this problem right now.
2. Look at the bigger picture
There’s no denying the fact that this is a difficult situation to be in. But there’s also no denying the fact that one has to deal with these personal problems in order to keep the bigger, deadlier covid-19 infection at bay—not just for the sake of your own health and wellbeing, but also for those you care about.
3. Count the days to feel better and hopeful
Counting days of the lockdown and ticking them off the calendar can make you feel like you’re getting closer to your old life again. This way, you can get some hope about these tough times getting over and you will be able to avoid conflicts and fights knowing that your free days are nearing anyway.
4. Understand their feelings too
Just like you’re feeling trapped and frustrated, the elderly in the family can get anxious about their survival through this pandemic and their restricted movement too. Hence, their cold reactions towards you could have more to do with their anxiety than with you.
Try taking the high road and cut them some slack because ageing does come with a lack of patience and a lot of crankiness.
5. Work on your relationship with your in-laws
Use this time to discover things that your in-laws love, explore some of their hobbies and interests. It could be as simple as reading a book for them, painting a canvas with them, sharing a light moment with them in the balcony, cooking or learning a new skill from them.
Remember, this time will never come back and in a few days, we all will get back to our daily grind. So, use this time to bond well as a family.
6. Communicate with them
If you share an open relationship with your in-laws, you must politely communicate with them and tell them how their behaviour affects your mental health. If you’re uncomfortable doing so, confiding in your husband can help you feel lighter and better.
7. Bring in a technological distraction for ‘em
An empty mind is a devil’s workshop. So, while you might be occupied because of your work-from-home schedule, your in-laws might not have their hands full. This could make their behaviour even worse.
How about you introduce them to new social-networking applications, video players, music apps, and some interesting mobile games to keep them distracted? This way, your in-laws will become tech-savvy and well—occupied and less likely to spark a fight!
8. Don’t forget to take care of yourself
It’s okay to set some boundaries and spend some time with yourself. In fact, it is rather essential for you to do so and practise some mindfulness to deal with the lockdown and nourish your own mental health too.
Get some sleep, put on a face pack, watch your favourite television series, get some air in the balcony, and don’t forget to vent out the pent-up energy through exercise. Not only will indulging in a physical activity help you channel your anger constructively, it’ll also release endorphins, the happy hormones in your body and uplift your mood.
9. Encourage your in-laws to exercise as well
Just like the endorphin production post-workout can uplift your mood, it can uplift the mood of your family members too. A fam with good mood, defo means fewer fights and conflicts. Hence, put on a workout video for ‘em and encourage them to exercise.