Photograph by: Clarissa Carbungco
Being mindful of your roommate’s mental health is vital right now. With millions of us on lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19, we’ve compiled a list of things to consider when it comes to your roommate’s mental health during the lockdown.
There are lots of ways we can be mindful of our roommate’s mental health right now but are they being considerate of your needs? Is your roommate taking your mental health into consideration? Are they watching the news 24/7 in your only social space? Are they taking social distancing seriously?
We’ve created a list of ways you can help open the discussion with your roommate(s) to help protect your mental health, and theirs.
Have an open and empathic conversation with your roommate
It’s likely that your roommate is struggling with the gravity of the current situation as much as you are. As we navigate this uncertain time together, it’s important to understand that we all respond or react to world events like this in many different ways. It’s important to remember that we are all human, everyone copes differently.
Having an open and empathic conversation with your roommate can help bring them into awareness. Suggest hosting a house meeting where you can all discuss your concerns and worries together in the hope of finding ways to help one another out. If you can’t do this physically, speak to one another via video call.
If you feel uncomfortable saying this out loud, why not post a kind note under everyone’s door and make the suggestion?
Be considerate of news intake in social spaces
If you share a central lounge or kitchen with your roommates, perhaps suggest keeping news intake in alternative spaces, such as private rooms or via headphones.
Not everyone wants to hear the news on a loop, and many can find it very distressing. Reserve the main TV in the house for movies to ensure it can remain a safe space for all.
Why not download our mindful Roommate Notice and stick it on your living room door or create a one hour window in the day where you can take over the lounge and catch up on the news, together.
Reframe how you speak to them
No one likes to be told what to do and this can often bring about feelings of resentment and irritability. Try to reframe the conversation and make it about you. Try sentences such as “I need you to understand that this is having a negative impact on my mental health right now,” as opposed to “Can you please stop doing this, it’s really getting to me”.
Highlight some of the responsible steps you are taking to empower them to do the same.
Remind them that you are all in this together, so you’d like to know how you can help them better manage their stress at this moment. If you aren’t able to support them emotionally, perhaps signpost to some of the many charities supporting people’s mental health at this time.
Create an ’emotional consent’ policy
Emotional consent is a way of asking someone if it’s OK to drop a load of worries on them. Its a way of being mindful of your roommate’s mental health and the stress they may already be experiencing. Emotional consent can feel really supportive in times like this. By asking them “Do you have the emotional capacity to listen to some of my worries right now?”, you are also reminding them that you would like them to consider your emotional wellbeing too.
It’s really easy to suddenly offload on someone but it can leave the other person feeling really heavy and exhausted. The practice of emotional consent can be a real act of kindness when everyone is carrying the weight of this global pandemic.
Turn your room into a zen zone
This is the perfect time to switch things up. Dedicate a part of your room and turn it into a zen zone to promote stillness and calm. This is the perfect place for you to unwind, breathe and tap into your inner sanctuary. This space is your go-to place for you and only you. Practice daily gratitude, meditate, do some yoga or just get your head into a book whilst listening to your favourite jams.
Check-in with each other but also allow space
Let your roommates know that you are all in this together. It might be a good idea to keep social distancing in check when in lockdown together, just to be safe. Encourage tea dates for two at a time and create the space to have healthy conversations. It’s a good idea to share your thoughts on the current situation but its also important to talk about other stuff too. Try to find the balance and support each other through this moment.
Keep it clean
Personal and collective hygiene is super important. Respecting each other’s space and being mindful of keeping things clean and tidy is really important for our general wellbeing. Disinfecting the bathroom and kitchen after use shouldn’t be overlooked and following guidelines from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) should be seriously considered. If you are leaving the house for essential trips, make sure you remove your clothing upon entering your house and put it straight into the wash. Disinfect any handles you may have come into contact with.
Create togetherness, safely
This is a really difficult time for everyone and some may feel more isolated than others. Consider those who have been forced to stop their face-to-face counselling sessions which were vital for their wellbeing and aren’t able to do it online due to lack of privacy in shared accommodation. Being away from loved ones too is also really difficult in a time where touch is forbidden, so the stress will likely increase. There are lots of ways you can create a sense of togetherness without getting too close. Explore ways to safely play a weekly game that can bring you all together for a much-needed laugh. Get to know each other better with quizzes or catch a movie via the Netflix Party (chrome extension). Community means more than ever, so stay connected.