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  • Writer's pictureLalita Dileep

Carving Personal Space in a Covid World

How are we managing to find our alone time

It is all a mash up. Couples, families and children both grown and little are all coped up in spaces small and large - and there is no end in sight. Being isolated for an extended period of time feels confined to the point of being trapped even if it is with a loved one - with hardly any room for personal space.

Many families across the globe are also balancing working from home and caring for children, which makes personal space and time even more challenging to find. Carving spaces for functioning, working efficiently, getting meals prepared, taking care of children and pets as well as establishing routines - even everyday tasks seem herculean in today's world.

Another quandary couples run into is the blurring of roles and responsibilities around the home, including child care, household chores, preparing meals, going to the grocery store, and such. The sweeping changes affects everyone be it one or both partners, couples or single parents, even older folks all forced to make accommodations to their routines and the responsibilities they had become accustomed to.

Close but not too close

Before the virus hit, acceptable measures of personal space varied widely from person to person, based on age, personality, upbringing and cultural background. When we think about it there are also different types of personal space.

The physical space is the most obvious and much needed. Others that impact us as deeply are time space - related mostly to work and virtual hangouts, emotional space that follows a trauma or an event both good and bad, and activity space for working, cooking, eating, reading, watching TV or just being along. Before the pandemic, our boundaries were flexible and would change according to need. But this is no longer the case.

Credit:Wikipedia: A crinoline is a stiff petticoat designed to hold out a woman's skirt, popular since the mid 19th century

Space Intimacy Challenges

We are undergoing a major shift in our interpersonal relationships and the first steps is to recognize this. Making ourselves accountable is the second tentative step. Now comes empowerment. Even as everyone in the room is fighting for oxygen remember to treat the other person just as you would like to be treated.

Use your unique radar to navigate the new perimeters. Being confined together for days on end without any member of the family having their own routine outside the house does set off all kinds of alarm bells suggesting automatically that there is an invasion of personal space. This in turn creates the kind of stress that mushrooms in the atmosphere leading to a sense of irritation that pervades everything.

We need to step back, pivot quickly and learn to carve out small spaces both physically and metaphorically speaking. Establish buffer zones between yourself and the rest of the world determining who you let in and who to keep out. In turn this will solidify relationships and install inner calm and outward peace. Delve and find quiet times for yourself and brook no interruption as well as insist on others in the household to do the same. Revive your spirits by meditating, listening to music, doing craft, gardening, reading, walking, running or doing whatever activity brings you joy and harmony. Finding "Me" Time is key.

It’s hard to say what the future holds. Right now people are torn between their desire to connect with others and the need to keep them away and stay safe. But continue to be deliberate and intentional in creating some personal latitude to recharge, relax and rejuvenate. Its a balancing act but well worth your emotional sanity.

We are stronger together


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