Complied Barrington H. Brennen, April 15 & 20, 2020
Social Togetherness is Not Lost
Writer’s Note: This
script was first written for a live
video broadcast on
April 13, 2020. Sources for the information in the
script are Psychology Today, American Psychological
Association, Between Sessions Therapy, World Health
Organization and the writer.
FOR COUPLES --
These are certainly unprecedented times. We are in a
crisis. When I say we, I am referring to everyone
living in The Bahamas and more broadly, everyone living
on planet earth. This is a crisis, but not one that we
cannot overcome. This is one time when unification of
all residents in The Bahamas, yeh, the entire world is
required to crush this pandemic. Every country in the
world has at least one case of COVID19. COVID19 is
spreading like wildfire.
The purpose of this video (article) is to give some tips to help
you through this challenging time.
Crisis can bring out the best or worst in society.
Quoting one author: “There are silver linings we are
experiencing through this tragic situation. We have seen
the very best in people during times of crisis. Their
generosity of spirit is evident in countless ways.”
We’ve seen many who are sharing their time, helping
others, responding actively to the lockdown or curfew
We know that national crisis can expose the worst in us,
also. During a national crisis like a hurricane and
this terrible pandemic, it is not unusual to have an
increase in domestic violence, child abuse, rape, and
maybe even birth. Although birth increase after a
national disaster, this has not been empirically proven.
Right now, there are many who are experiencing a higher
level of anxiety, worry and even fear. Since the
immediate future seems unpredictable, people are asking
all kinds of questions and these questions are making
things worse. Questions like: “What if I never can go
back to work?” “What if the company where I am working
does not open again?” “What if I get sick and die?”
“What if I and my children die?” “What if our hotels
never re-open?” Not only are these questions being
asked, but they are repeated and repeated in our minds
We can ask many
“What If?” questions. But listen. Do
you realize that “What ifs” can cripple you? Sometimes
they are simply frivolous or stupid. They freeze us in
a position of endless anxiety or allow us to become
stagnated. What ifs can cripple a relationship, family,
and nation. What ifs can even cripple a government.”
When we focus on the “What ifs” even when it appears to
be a reality, we rob ourselves in the midst of the
crisis of being hopeful and at peace and responding
appropriately to ensure survival. Always questioning
“What if” puts us in a worrying state of mind.
Here is a quote from Psychology Today online
article entitled ”Fighting Life's "What Ifs"-- Why we
worry, fuss, and fret far more than we need to.”
“Worry is like blood pressure: you need a certain level
to live, but too much can kill you. At its worst, worry
is insidious, invisible, a relentless scavenger, roaming
the corners of your mind, feeding on anything it finds.
It sets upon you unwanted and unbidden, feasting on the
infinite array of negative possibilities in life,
diminishing your enjoyment of friends, family,
achievements, and physical being—all because you live in
fear of what might go wrong.”
“What ifs” can lead to worry and worry to anxiety.
The great preacher Charles H. Spurgeon who died in 1892
said: “Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its
sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths.”
You are on lockdown or depending when you watch this
video, you are in the midst of a curfew. You only can
go to shop for food on a certain day of the week and the
rest of the time you are at home. Thus, you have
fears, worry that causes some level of anxiety. Some
people listening or watching might just be having a mild
form of anxiety. Listen to this:
“The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by the
brain sending messages to parts of the body to prepare
for the "fight or flight" response. The heart, lungs and
other parts of the body work faster. The brain also
releases stress hormones, including adrenaline. The
following symptoms can occur as a result:
abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, dry mouth, rapid
heartbeat or palpitations, tightness or pain in
chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, frequent
urination, difficulty swallowing .
Psychological symptoms can include:
insomnia, irritability or anger, inability to
concentrate, fear of madness, feeling unreal and not
in control of your actions (depersonalization).
Back to the
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
What can you do to have peace of mind while you are in
lockdown during this pandemic. How can you feel
hopeful when it seems hopeless? How can you manage your
mood while observing social distancing? You might feel
like the four walls are coming down on you.
I am going
to give some tips, 16 of them, that I hope will be
helpful. Some are very simple but important.
Choose not to ask anymore “What If” questions because
they will cripple you. No matter how the perceived
reality is right in your face.
Choose to live one moment at a time and one day at a
Avoid dwelling on what you do not have and what you
Accept what's out of your control. Focusing on that
which you have no control over will leave you feeling
frustrated and exhausted. There are certain
circumstances or decisions that are not in your power to
control. Let go of them. Doing so will help you move on
and focus your energy more positively. Remember: though
you may not be able to change these realities, you can
change how your respond to them.
Limit media exposure on the topic, including social
media. Select times when you will keep up to date with
the news. Do not keep the television on all day to the
facts about the virus.
Embrace change. There will always be change. Instead of
concentrating on the disruptive aspects, take a flexible
approach and accept that change is a fundamental part of
life that can also bring opportunities and positive
Look at what is in your hand. That is, look around
you. See the opportunities you have never had before.
Clean cluttered closets or attics. Sort out unused,
but good clothing to give away. Wash walls down. Remove
the spider webs you have been wanting to do for years.
If there is a family in the home, plan a routine
schedule of doing things. Set a family mealtime at
least once a day. Designate persons to do chores
around the house. (In other word create a structured
environment instead of just sitting around day after day
and looking at your toes or the television.)
Have a schedule to call relatives and friends who are
close to you. Laugh with them. Share your hope and
Dress up. Instead of staying in the same clothing or
sleep attire throughout the day, get a bath, and put on
clothing as though you are going out someplace. Males,
shave your faces and comb your hair.
Females, put your
hair in a style as though you are expecting someone.
Then sit down for a meal, or play games, or watch a
movie, or read a book. The temptation is not to change
clothing and to keep on the sleeping gowns all day
since no one is coming to your house. This mindset
will keep you locked down emotionally. Get out of the
pajamas and dress up—perfume and everything. Do this
every day or at least once every two days. You should
do this whether you are alone or living with family
Have a routine exercise or vigorous fun-time with the
people in the home. Play hopscotch, Jack in the box,
marbles, volleyball, table games, dominoes, etc.
Home leaders/parents, utilize this time to teach your
sons and daughters how to bake or cook something, change
a car tire, use a electric saw, etc
Select a time to have a family meeting once a week or
so, to talk about the Coronavirus. Use age appropriate
language. Here are some of the topics you can share:
What are you most concerned about?
Are you having any problems with your online
How can we as a family help a neighbor this week
without leaving home?
Try and keep this world crisis in perspective.
Social media and news outlets can amplify
misinformation. Keep in mind that there's a
concerted global effort to try and contain this
virus, and the World Health Organization is
maintaining a webpage with answers to common
questions. Remind yourself that people are out there
fighting this monster for you and with you as you do
stress and anxiety management. There are many proven
ways to reduce stress and anxiety: getting enough
sleep, balanced diet and hydration, exercise,
talking about your fears with others, meditation,
and more. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
Find the self-care practice that works for you.
My last tip is this: Follow prevention tips to stay
healthy. Wear your mask or face covering whenever
you must go out to shop. Wash your hands often and
wash them properly. These are the simple most
effective ways to stop the spread of disease.
Remember to avoid asking the question “What if . . .?”
Remember to call a doctor, nurse, police officer, media
personnel, essential worker you know and encourage them.
Thank them for what they are doing.
TIPS FOR COUPLES
Back to the
are specific tips for decreasing strain on your
relationship during the pandemic.
Believe it or not, even the healthiest relationship can
experience strain during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Being
locked down, cannot go out, will have some kind of
effect, great or small. Sometimes, small arguments can
explode into big ones. To prevent or reduce the stress
here are a few tips I sited from Between Sessions
Resources 2020 that I know will be helpful.
Voice your needs clearly and kindly by remaining
calm and resisting the temptation to blame.
Pause throughout the day to reflect on how you are
feeling and what you need.
Listen with respect, patience, and kindness.
Identify common ground. Reveal your
vulnerability and fears to each other, and soften
your stance to stay connected. Schedule 30 minutes
each day to focus on your relationship—avoid talking
about the pandemic or tomorrow’s plans. Discussing
“what ifs” can increase anxiety and fuel fear,
leading to more conflict.
When things get heated take time to calm down.
Identify when you are stressed and take a step back.
When you are upset it is normal to resort to less
healthy ways of coping and expressing yourself. You
might become irritable, critical, short-tempered, or
tearful. You might even snap at your partner, or
overact to minor misunderstandings. Instead, express
how you are feeling and explain that you do not want
to say anything you will regret later.
Do not neglect the say "Thank you." "That's
Take care of yourself and tend to your own needs.
Nurture yourself and your body by getting enough
sleep, exercising, eating well, and maintaining
strong relationships with family and friends
(virtually or by phone). Even incorporating small
habits like meditating each morning for 5 minutes,
doing a 10-minute stretching video before bed, or
taking 2 minutes to write in a journal will be
Create separate workspaces. If possible, work
in different rooms. Use noise-canceling headphones
to focus on your tasks. If you have kids, designate
“shifts” for childcare and household tasks.
Have your own time and space away from your
partner and kids. You each may need to escape to
a quiet spot at different times. It might be helpful
to plan breaks from your partner, and time to spend
together, to avoid hurt feelings.
Plan a project together. The more
accomplished you feel as a team, the more connected
you will feel. Identify household tasks you can
Rekindle romance. Recreate “date night” at
home with candles and soft music, savoring a quiet
dinner after the kids have gone to bed.
Make small gestures to brighten your partner’s day.
Respect differing coping styles. You and your
partner most likely cope with stress in very
different ways. You might be calm and level-headed,
while your partner is anxious or highstrung. Your
differing styles can balance each other out – the
more grounded partner can offer humor, while the
anxious partner can ensure that health and safety
guidelines are in place. View the situation from
your partner’s point of view and limit your judgment
of how he or she copes.
I am Barrington Brennen, counseling psychologist from
Marriage and Family Counseling Services, Nassau, The
I can be reached at
www.soencouragement.org/counseling or 242 327 1980 or WhatsApp
at 242 477 4002
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