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Is the Pandemic Hurting Your Relationships? Here’s What to Do

by Voices Wellness 03 Aug 2021
Photo: Unsplash

Dr. Jade Kua shares how we can foster better relationships even as the pandemic keeps us apart from our loved ones. By SAMANTHA FRANCIS.

Nurturing relationships is challenging enough without an ongoing pandemic—particularly one that’s forced us right out of our comfort zones. With social distancing and heightened isolation being the default mode in our daily lives, we may find ourselves drifting apart from the ones who matter. Dr. Jade Kua, professional life coach and medical doctor, shares her insights on how we can rebuild the connections in our lives and deal better with feelings of loneliness.

Photo: Dr. Jade Kua

On the importance of human connection…

Human connection, whether in the form of empathy across social media or physical touch like a hug, is incredibly important to one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

The impact of the ongoing pandemic on our friendships and relationships…

Safe distancing results in reduced opportunities for direct communication and other non-verbal cues best expressed in person. As such, this places stress on relationships. Having endured stressful periods, it’s understandable that our interpretation of someone’s words through social media may be impaired, leading to misunderstanding and fractured relationships.

As a community, bearing the stress of someone else’s burden influences us too. We’re talking about hawkers losing jobs, parents having greater academic responsibility for their kids’ home school experiences, other countries’ political stance on the pandemic. Even though we don’t play direct roles in these domestic or international tragedies, the pandemic binds us in stress, resulting in our lives and relationships being worse for it.

Photo: Unsplash

Forging meaningful connections even with heightened isolation…

Instead of social media, try one-on-one conversations for better communication. Although time-consuming, this method provides information and comfort in a way that mass social media posts simply cannot. How we react to other people’s words and what we see on social media matters. We cannot control what other people say as we cannot truly know the intention behind them. We can only control what we say and even what we think—although that takes practice.

No matter what the stress is, we can attempt to overcome it if we have mental resilience. Unfortunately, this is not emphasised enough in schools. From a young age, we were taught to embrace success, with failure being a shameful consequence. No matter what happens in our community or even globally, a resilient and forward-facing mindset will help get us through and consequently, improve our relationships.

Making new friends in adulthood…

It’s harder to make friendships when we are older because we hold on tightly to our opinions and are more afraid to be vulnerable. When I coach my clients on friendships, I notice success comes when they are open and non-judgmental.

Ways to deal with feelings of loneliness…

Self-care and introspection are good ways to learn to enjoy being alone. Being alone isn’t really a problem unless one feels a strong sense of loneliness and isolation. After all, it’s possible to feel lonely even when surrounded by people. Speaking about your perception of loneliness helps others know how you feel, and this allows them to reach out and make changes.

Staying connected with loved ones during the ongoing pandemic…

Being a front liner, it’s hard for me to meet people as I have to be extra cautious. I tend to only arrange for face-to-face meetings with close friends and special occasions. Otherwise, I mainly stay home. Having noticed that many of my social media followers were feeling negative, I reached out to offer pro-bono coaching, to help them address their issues constructively over video calls. As my family is in my bubble, I have no qualms about hugging my kids extra tightly to remind them how much I love them.

Dr. Jade Kua is a professional certified life coach. She has won multiple awards in her career as a medical doctor, educator, and community leader. She is also a mother of three small children and three adult stepchildren. 

More information here. Enjoy 10 percent off coaching packages as a Voices Wellness reader.

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