It’s tough. Living in a confined space, with a family can be really hard on your mental health.
The rise of suicide cases in Malaysia has brought awareness to many that Covid-19 is not the only thing that is taking away lives, rapidly.
As a counselling student, I wish to help. I wish to reduce the pain of others but there is only so much I can do.
I have written this piece with the purpose of helping someone. Anyone reading this, even if it helps one person feel safer at home, then this article is worth writing.
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed counsellor, I am simply an empathetic student and citizen trying to make the slightest difference. If needed, please seek a therapist/counsellor and do not rely heavily on this piece of article. This article aims to spread awareness, not to treat any mental illness.
Here are 5 ways you can be more empathetic towards your family:
1. Give Everyone Space
This is especially important if you’re living with a family in small apartments, sharing bedrooms and sharing common areas to get your daily tasks done such as work and online school.
Why is this important? If you do not set physical boundaries, you will not be able to set emotional boundaries.
Physical boundaries, like having a room to yourself for a couple of hours is important to recharge ourselves.
Only then we will have the emotional capacity to deal with other family members for the rest of the day.
Try to share and schedule the spaces at home. Block your time and space for yourself by informing your family that you do not want to be disturbed during that period of time.
Whether this is for work, school or simply to watch some Netflix, you need some space.
We all do.
2. Acknowledge Each Other’s Pain
You don’t need to offer solutions. All you have to do is ACCEPT that everyone in the household is having their own challenges.
Sometimes, these challenges can be burdening them silently and you would not know it.
An SPM student might be devastated for not being able to go to school and spend their final schooling year making memories with friends.
A parent might be struggling to find a side hustle to compensate for the increase in utility and grocery bills since everyone is back at home.
A fresh graduate might be dealing with issues revolving around self-worth, each time their job application gets rejected.
Everyone in the family has pain. No one is hurting more, no one is hurting less.
Pain is pain. It wounds, bleeds and needs to be healed.
3. Share The Workload At Home
This one is a no-brainer, but many of us don’t do it.
Help out at home. Take charge of certain chores. If you don’t do your share, it falls onto someone else and that is definitely not an empathetic thing to do!
This is self-explanatory, but sometimes we can use a reminder. There are times where family members might not voice out that they need help.
Be observant and offer help instead of waiting for them to come to you.
4. Lend An Ear
As a Master in Counselling student, one of the most underrated yet effective therapeutic skills to use would be to LISTEN.
Do not underestimate the power of sitting in silence and listening to the pain of others. Do not give your opinion or offer a solution.
As a family member, of course, you can try to solve another family member’s problem.
However, sometimes we should simply acknowledge the pain they go through. Just to show them that we care.
How do you do this? You can say things like:
- I hear you.
- Thank you for sharing this with me.
- I can see why this must be hard on you.
- You’re doing great despite ____.
- I am proud of you.
- How can I help you feel better?
- I am here for you.
- Everyone goes through that.
- It is just a phase.
- You’re too sensitive.
- You need to be strong mentally.
- Other people have it worse.
To sum it up, let us be kind at home to one another. We all want to be loved and understood at home by our family, especially during a pandemic.
Someone wise once told me this, “We’re only fighting because we want to be heard, loved and understood”.
Keep this in mind. The next time you fight with your partner, child or sibling, it’s probably because you want them to do or say something that reflects that they care for you.
Sonia Singh is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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