Therapist offers advice for couples, families during pandemic

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SAN DIEGO – While so many have been stuck in quarantine for weeks now with their significant others, kids or even alone, chances are they’ve struggled at some point, causing stress in their relationships.

People have made their jokes about a “baby boom” after the quarantine, but licensed marriage and family therapist Dana McNeil says a “divorce boom” isn’t necessarily out of the question.

“We haven’t been connecting, we haven’t been talking, there’s no date nights, there’s not really anything deep that’s happening. We’ve just kind of been skating along and I do worry about that,” McNeil said.

Of course, no one is rooting for their relationships to fail and during these unprecedented times, turning to a professional can really help.

“The last couple of weeks I’ve seen a big increase in clients calling looking for support,” McNeil said.

Therapists are still available, moving their practices online to Zoom and Skype or even offering sessions via phone call. Some of McNeil’s suggestions for couples and families during quarantine include intentional listening and using the extra time as a reset.

For those balancing work and kids at home, self-care is extremely important. Even if it’s just one hour a day, McNeil says, do something for yourself. She stresses you cannot be as present for everyone else if you forget to do something that fulfills you personally.

What if you just started dating someone and suddenly you ended up in quarantine together? It could be a disaster, or according to McNeil, the best thing to ever happen to your relationship.

“This is actually a really good opportunity. You get a chance before you’re 25 years into this to see how this person handle stress. This is an opportunity to really build some things strong, and to ask those tough questions and get to know this person on a deeper level.”

If you’re alone during the quarantine don’t forget the power of reaching out with a simple call or text.

“That reciprocates. You get to feel like, ‘I may not physically be at this moment connected with you, but I’m just physically quarantining. I’m not emotionally quarantining,’” explains McNeil.

Lastly, McNeil says, do not forget the importance of keeping some type of healthy routine: “You need to have some structure and you need to have something that you look forward to. We’re not going to be in this forever.”

McNeil says if you fall completely out of routine, it will be that much harder to engage in the world once things start to return to normal.

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