Assessing the toll Covid has taken on relationships
Valentine’s Day is near, reminding us of the toll taken on relationships by this pandemic, still grinding on, as everyone hopes for a return to normalcy soon.
There have been so many unanticipated local and global challenges to economies and health systems; Bermuda is no exception, having the same commonality, in a tiny microcosm of them all.
Major disruptions to millions in their routine lives always generate aftermath reflection. There is great interest among behavioural finance and health professional communities, as well as the general public, in how relationships have changed, been renewed, survived (or not) during this indescribable, challenging time.
Analyses on the impact of Covid protocol on relationships – drawn from the UK, the US and local reporting – are filtering out on social media and professional research websites.
The commentary and surveys are, in some respects, quite predictable. If the individual, couple, or family were already struggling with relationship problems, Covid just greatly amplified the disruptive negative effect.
However, on the positive side, reports also described some of the same descriptive relationship groups above coming together against a precipitous common threat, using the time to meet the challenges head on, resolving simmering issues, and generating mutual collaboration in planning for a more equanimity in a successful future. Wedding numbers have increased, possibly due to rationalisation after Covid postponements, as well as higher numbers, in general.
Overall, it seems that everyone exposed was affected to some extent by Covid, and its destructive impact. The analyses that I reviewed were from surveys or from affected groups seeking help, primarily in the US and the UK .
Unexpected grief: millions have been lost to this insidious disease. Those left behind have had to cope with totally upended work-life schedules while sorting through emotional recovery, because what else can one do except try to carry on?
Financial stress: according to VeryWell Mind: “Difficult financial situations can put a strain on relationships, make it harder to put food on the table or pay the bills, and decrease your feelings of self-worth. In essence, a money problem becomes an everything problem.
“People who lost jobs during the pandemic are feeling the effects beyond the direct financial component, with only 26 per cent saying they have mentally recovered from that loss, citing sleep issues, out-of-home safety concerns, change in eating habits, irritability, focus and productivity challenges, and little interest in social activities.”
Disruptions and unpredictability: lives work best on smooth, regular schedules; when there is no ability to plan a day, let alone a week, individuals experience disorientation and some temporary impairment in cognitive thinking.
Ordinary necessities such as juggling childcare, school attendance, work requirement deadlines, conferencing, and household tasks become misplaced, out-of-sync and unmanageable.
Add children’s’ reactions to abrupt departures from a normal day, caregiving to elderly relatives, separated households, single parent responsibilities, plus divorce and extended family to the mix and exacerbated chaos is the new normal.
Mobility and exercise: humans by nature are not sedentary. Our bodies thrive on movement, travelling, visual, audio, and spatial interaction. There is nothing like even a plain walk outside on a stunningly bright morning, experiencing Vitamin D sunshine, hearing, seeing waves rippling across the horizon. Exercise burns off stress, uses up adrenaline, and promotes good endorphin vibes, all healthy outlets for keeping comfortably calm. When constricted by time, protocols, indoor confinement in small spaces, our physical and mental health suffers.
Emotional trauma: constant financial worries, losing a family member or a friend is tough enough. Losing a job affects finances, self-worth, and health, while isolation from normal physical contact, and communication with friends and family are mentally and emotionally debilitating.
Relationship management: this was an area in which numerous issues and conflicts were reported. Disparity in divisions of household chores and child management became very significant. In many households with working from home requirements, the partner with the higher earning power had more space and away from distraction requirements, leaving, generally, the lesser earner, usually a female, to somehow manage everything else, including home schooling and her own job.
Stability in relationships became compromised, due to the above disparity, as well as time for each other, to respect opposing viewpoints on whether to mask or not, to vax or not for oneself or one’s children, to distribute household chores equally or not, or just completely challenged to adapt to just too much togetherness.
And distressingly, a percentage of households had increased domestic violence.
No privacy or alone time: the most compelling, although for some it may seem less a priority, was the lack of no time for being alone, time to think, time to process, time to prioritise future planning and most importantly, time to regroup with life’s constant demands.
At the end of the day, we need to remind ourselves that we are resilient, purposeful, problem-solving, or we would never have survived as a species. Covid, not to minimise its impact, became another challenge to our psyche, a hurdle to manage on life’s journey.
Anyone feeling Covid impact to their mental and physical health is encouraged to contact a counsellor or health professional. Remember that you are not alone in this challenge to return to a stable, normal life.
Readers, anyone interested in sharing your story of Covid survival, please feel free to write to me at email@example.com. I never, ever disclose sources and disguise any shared information. To remain completely anonymous, see the link to Guerrilla temporary disposable email. https://www.guerrillamail.com/
On another note
Readers, take advantage! Consider attending the Financial Literacy Course 2022 at Bermuda College presented by the Chartered Financial Analyst Society Bermuda on February 23. Contact CFA Society Bermuda at firstname.lastname@example.org. The price is $80 total, or $20 per session. You will leave with wonderful professional knowledge to help you manage your financial wellness.
“Covid’s Impact on Financial Stress Lingers for Many. Our Mental Health Tracker Paints a Complicated Picture of Recovery,” Amy Morin, LCSW, Nick Ingalls, MA, August 26, 2021
“Understanding what caused other relationships to crumble helps ensure yours is safe,” Jeremy Brown, September 17, 2021
• Martha Harris Myron is a former qualified international financial planner, the author of The Bermuda Islander Financial Planning Primers, international financial consultant to the Olderhood Group Bermuda Ltd, promoter of financial literacy and financial columnist to The Royal Gazette