By Elaine N. Aron, PhD
Psychologist, researcher, and author of The Highly Sensitive Person
See www.hsperson.com for tips for HSPs right now
1. Research is very clear that stress can destroy even the best relationships. Under tension, we may not communicate well, get easily annoyed, expect the other to read our minds and know our feelings, or become disappointed by how the other is handling it all. Watch your stress levels. Try just listening to each other expressing anxiety and irritations without trying to fix it. Listening without interruption can be the greatest gift.
2. Get away from each other whenever you start to feel irritable—before things get out of hand. If circumstances allow, take a walk alone. If you’re unable to go outside, sit alone by a window and watch the clouds, or spend a few hours in separate rooms. If you don’t have a separate room, agree to be in silence for a few hours. It’s important to be clear how long this “alone time” will last, and that it is not a response to something the other person did or said. Make it clear that you will be better company after being alone for a while. Your partner will see it’s true.
3. If one of you can work from home and the other cannot, do not let all of the drudgery or childcare fall onto the one not making money. Divide the drudgery fairly. The one not earning money can look online for new resources or entertainment for the evening.
4. Research clearly shows that doing something “novel and exciting” together makes two people feel more in love. There are plenty of such things to be done at home, from watching an opera for the first time to taking online art classes to cooking up something crazy with the ingredients you have on hand. Just remember it has to be something that you both would like to try.
5. Keep conversations interesting. Spend some time learning about something the other doesn’t know about yet, and talk about it over dinner. Maybe that’s listening to today’s pandemic news if one of you loves doing that and the other would prefer just a summary. Or reading or listening to a podcast about something interesting and obscure. Or reading a novel, a chapter a day, and sharing the story of dinner so you both get to enjoy it.
“Hope is not a matter of waiting for things outside of us to get better. It is about getting better inside about what is going on outside.” —Joan Chittister
May be in this case we should also take her “inside” literally!