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  • Collaborating in Times of Fear

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    As the Coronavirus hits our country, so does fear. Fear can be helpful when it helps us navigate dangers and stay alive.

    However, fear can also create stress and make us less likely to be open, collaborative, and loving at home.

    I’ve seen memes implying that since people are now home, they will be having more sex, and in nine months there will be a generation born called “coronials.” I don’t know about you, but for me, worrying about a pandemic and a likely recession, while the kids are also home from school or daycare, doesn’t naturally rouse my ardor.

    Or course, if you have the time and space for it, sex can be a very healthy coping tool. But the idea of abundant Netflix and chill-ing (literally and metaphorically) may not be the reality for many of us.

    Stress doesn’t make us more open. In fact, it can make us less likely to share our feelings, since we don’t want to worry or burden our partner. I can see the logic of this traditionally masculine or avoidant mindset, as it has been my first instinct for years, but it’s worthwhile to resist the tendency to shut down.

    Stoicism isn’t always helpful for our relationships in stressful times.

    If your partner doesn’t know what you’re thinking or feeling, they can feel alone, and what they don’t know they make up — and such imaginings are frequently negative.

    One of the best antidotes for anxiety, fear, and loneliness is connection.

    Connection regulates and calms our emotions and strengthens our immune system. A good way to connect is by sharing our vulnerability, or what’s real for us:

    • “I’m worried about my parents getting sick.”
    • “I’m really scared about the potential recession and the amount of savings we have to weather the storm.”

    Such statements when received by an understanding and open partner, facilitate connection and can promote an environment of collaboration.

    Collaborating, not fighting, is in our best interest during times of fear.

    We’re stronger when we’re on the same team. When we encourage collaboration through expressing vulnerability, we have more options, creativity and strength. This is the benefit of being in a relationship.

    Anxiety has been high in our house recently. But my wife and I reaffirmed our commitment to being on the same team. This doesn’t come easily, as stress triggers what annoys us most about each other. We will always annoy each other to some degree, and we just accept that.

    But we won’t do what’s not in the best interest of our team. We continually work at being collaborative and open, and that’s how we have the best tools to mitigate stress in times of fear.

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