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TALK TO US

Keep Your Cool at Home

Living and working in close quarters for so long can cause tempers to flare. Stay cool at home with these helpful tips.
By Dr. Ken Fung

下面是本文的中文版。

We have heard from many people that working and studying from home has actually been a welcome break from the usual rapid pace of life in Hong Kong. However, over time, they have also told us how the experience has affected them negatively, in particular their emotions and relationships.

We rely on the small things in daily life to lift ourselves up, adjust our mood, or maintain motivation. We chat with classmates or colleagues, have lunch with friends, or step outside for a breath of fresh air. These actions are a big part finding balance and refreshment in our work days, be it in an office or at school.

Because these options have been unavailable to us for so long, our mental heath has suffered.

Hurtful Words, Physical Violence

For working parents, the situation can be doubly difficult. On the one hand, they have to deal with the boss’s remote command without leaving the mobile or computer, and on the other, they have to act as teacher to children who are getting more and more disenchanted with online learning. Add to this the daily tidings from the media news cycle predicting dire consequences for economies and jobs, and it can feel like negative energy is accumulating.

We have heard more than once that the situation feels like “prison”, and that there is no foreseeable escape. It is at this time, when faced with a disobedient or emotional child, or a disagreement within the family, that emotions can truly flare, ranging from inadvertently speaking hurtful speech to serious physical violence.

There are ways to avoid doing harm to the ones we are closest to – our fellow family members who are also stuck at home:

1. Maintain social ties

Although we may not always be able to meet friends and relatives in person in this special situation, this does not mean that we cannot continue to maintain contact and communication with them. Take the initiative to talk to friends or family on social media or via instant message to help you feel better. Not only will this not spread the virus, it will also make you feel a little support in this breathless atmosphere, alleviating the feelings of loneliness, unhappiness and anxiety.

2. Go outside

With all precautions in place, you can still walk outside to get some much needed space. Even if you don’t go far, it is good to remove yourself from indoors and stroll around the neighbourhood. Children will especially benefit from getting out, and will be less likely to explode at home making matters worse for everyone. Of course, avoid crowded places and take other recommended steps to stay physically healthy, but don’t hesitate to head outside to uncrowded parks and streets to stay mentally healthy.

3. Support mental health at home

Perform different relaxation exercises at home, such as mindfulness breathing exercises or muscle relaxation exercises. In addition, you can also encourage children or adults in the family to practice together, and play some natural sounds to create a more relaxing atmosphere at home.

4. Track your temper

Be aware of your feelings and watch for even slight changes in your mood. When you feel your emotions heating up, take a break and walk away. Don’t discuss or argue with anyone, or even parent your children. Those actions could possibly worsen your emotions.

Instead, try to slow down your breathing slowly and focus all your attention on your breath, until you feel yourself cooling off, and then continue with your previous task. The outcome of any situation is dramatically different if handled in a state of relative calmness, instead of a state of anger and frustration.

5. Talk about your feelings, only

Speak honestly with your partner about your feelings. It is an effective way to make your spouse your emotional partner, rather than another source of stress. Talk about your feelings and emotions as separate from your relationship — do not vent as if the situation is their fault. We all need a way to have our emotions heard and accepted, especially under these unusual conditions.

6. Out of control? Seek help.

If you feel the situation at home is harmful or may become harmful, professional help is available. There are online or in-person options that cater to individuals, families, and couples. Contact the BFDC if you need help managing home life at this time.

***

環境變化,心情變化

持續受到疫情影響,由一月開始香港的大學以及中小學糼稚園都相繼停課,並有不少學校將課程改為網上教授,而部份辦公室也實行在家工作的安排,讓家庭成員突然增加了大量在家相處時間。聽過很多人會覺得偶爾不用上班能稍作小休,然而長時間身處在這個非常特別的環境轉變底下,無論是家長,學生以及其他上班族都有機會吃不消,情緒亦因為要面對這些非預期的事情發展而遭受到不少負面影響。

雖然平常未必會留意得到,然而其實我們每天都會依靠一些日常生活的小事來讓自己提起精神,調整心情或維持動力。我們會跟同學或同事談話,與朋友共同進餐和談天,也會到外面走走呼吸新鮮空氣和伸展活動一下身體和四肢。 現在大家習以為常的生活要暫時被強逼改變,而且不是一段短的時間,我們都需要很多耐性和時間去調節。由於我們突然未能夠去做那些可以讓感受得到緩衝的活動,情緒自然會首當其衝受到打擊。同時地,不少人要跟不需要上班或上學的家人密集相處,感覺猶如像「困獸鬥」,情緒更有機會變得一發不可收拾,生活中的磨擦便自然地不斷增加。

會傷心的說話,會傷身的行為

有不少家長感到長期困在室內確實讓人很疲累,一邊要應付上司的「隔空指揮」而手機電腦不離身,另一邊要照顧在家中悶得發瘋的小朋友,甚至要為同樣在家工作的家人煮食三餐,壓力比起要上班工作有過之而無不及,姑勿論每天還會看新聞不斷在報導最新疫情消息,負能量每天都在累積。然後當遇上小朋友不聽話或鬧情緒,或與家人有意見分歧的時候,本身壓抑在心內的情感便有可能一觸即發,輕則口不慎說出傷害性的說話,重則發生身體暴力事件。

就算我們沒有辦法控制疫情會何時結束,要避免自己的情緒因為疫情及各種原因逐步升溫還是有一些方法可以嘗試:

1. 維持社交活動

雖然我們在這個特殊情況下未必能常常到外面跟親友聚會散心,這並不代表我們不能繼續保持跟他們聯絡和交流。當你感到悶悶不樂,不妨主動在社交媒體找朋友或家人聊聊天,紓發一下感受。這不但不會讓疫情散播,也會讓你覺得在這個讓人透不過氣來的氣氛得到一點支持,紓緩那份孤獨,悶悶不樂和焦慮;

2. 出外走走

在安全的情況下,你們還是可以到外面走走,讓那鬱鬱不樂的心情能在陽光下釋放一下。就算未能走到太遠,能把身體從家中移到附近走走也是不錯的選擇,長期被困在家中確實會讓人覺得很難受。尤其是小朋友,你讓他們都活動走動一下,他們很可能就不會把那份儲在體內的能量在家中爆發,不讓家長的肩膀百上加斤。當然到人多熱鬧的地方活動就絕對不建議了;

3. 在家中為自己放鬆

在家中進行不同的放鬆練習,例如正念呼吸練習或肌肉放鬆練習。除了這是一個能讓你心情放鬆的活動,你也可以鼓勵家中小朋友或成年人一起練習,配合播放一些大自然的聲音,為家中營造一個比較輕鬆的氣氛;

4. 留意情緒變化

要主動去留意自己的情緒變化。當你感到你的情緒正慢慢升溫,就不要去跟任何人討論或爭拗甚至不要去教訓小朋友,因為那些都是有機會讓你情緒進一步惡化的事情,後果可能不十分理想。相反,你可以嘗試慢慢將呼吸放慢並投放所有注意力到你的一呼一吸,直至你感到情緒逐漸回復平和,才去繼續你剛才要處理的事。帶著情緒和放鬆心情去做事,後果可以相差很遠,亦可以避免激烈爭吵;

5. 表達你的感受

跟伴侶互相坦白訴說感受也是一個很減壓的方法,讓他/她成為你的情緒合作伙伴而不是另一個壓力來源。要嘗試的是只談你們彼此在你們關係以外的感受和情緒,而不是將眼前發生的事情當作是他/她的過失般發洩出來;

6. 找尋支援

如果情況確實無法控制,請記住,專業幫助總是有用的。 我們中心有資源可以提供網上/電話輔導服務讓你無需外出就可以接受一些情緒和心理上的支援。