Insane survives thanks to your donations. If this magazine has been useful to you, please consider helping us!

How to improve family dynamics while isolating together

Illustration: Tony H.


Assess your surroundingsGet outside togetherSee a therapist

This article was written by Emma Grace Brown and posted on her website as well. A million thanks to her. Visit her blog for more useful info on all kinds of topics!


For self-isolating households, managing and reducing conflict can be tricky. With the whole family home and few distractions to relieve boredom, it’s normal to have tension arise. While it may be necessary to continue isolating while the pandemic still remains a concern, there are ways to alleviate the tension on a daily basis. Use this guide to find out how decluttering, getting outside together, and seeking out therapy will help your family find harmony throughout this difficult time.


Assess your surroundings

Conflict often arises when our surroundings are unstable or cluttered. While you might think your emotions aren’t tied to your environment, the opposite is actually true: our mood, stress levels, and even energy levels are deeply impacted by our immediate surroundings. For example, a room with dark colors and excessive decor or clutter can create stress and zap energy, while a bright room with minimal furniture and natural light can elevate both your energy and mood.


If you suspect your home might be contributing to your family’s tension, walk around your home and assess where you can make some improvements. The first thing to look for is clutter: put away personal belongings and clear off spaces such as countertops and tables. Clean your floors and open up some windows to let fresh air in. You might even want to burn some sage, which can help clear negative energy and invite peace into your home.


Get outside together

Being stuck inside for long periods of time can grate on anyone’s nerves, so think about ways to get your family outside together for some exercise or even a picnic.


 Science has shown that being outdoors not only improves our physical health but also does wonders for our mental wellbeing. Some of the positive health benefits might be surprising: getting outdoors helps improve short-term memory, helps lower our body’s stress chemical level known as cortisol, and can even reduce inflammation.


If you’re struggling to come up with outdoor activities, start by thinking small: even just an afternoon in the backyard raking leaves can help lift spirits. If you have a dog, you can team up with family members for walks, or even plan some mellow hikes in nearby parks. Grab a frisbee or baseball to toss around once you’re there — playing games is also great for relieving tension. Hanging out in a natural environment is even dubbed the “park prescription” by some doctors because it’s so effective at lowering stress levels.


See a therapist

Sometimes, the best method for dealing with household conflict is seeking out therapy. It’s possible to visit therapists in various ways, whether it’s with your whole family, with your significant other, or on your own. Therapists can help families understand what’s causing tension, and can suggest coping strategies. Try to find a therapist who uses cognitive and behavioral therapy (CBT), as they may be best suited to work with your family’s issues.


Along with seeing a therapist, try to incorporate stress-relieving tactics at home: focus on small and achievable tasks to reduce feelings of overwhelm, practice deep-breathing to help coax your body into relaxation, and limit brooding by focusing on the future.


Conflict is an unavoidable part of life, but learning how to cope and move through disagreements is a vital skill. If you’re finding elevated tension in your home, start by clearing out your space and eliminating clutter. Get outside for an activity with your family, and do some research to find a family therapist who can help your household learn more coping mechanisms.

CBD, the legal version of cannabis to calm anxiety
Two steps forward: an interview with Sabrina, recovered from her anorexia-bulimia