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Dealing with Roommate Conflict during Coronavirus Quarantine

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It’s no secret that the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly altered our lives and affected communities around the globe. Institutions, businesses, and organizations are facing temporary shutdowns, leading to ongoing collective anxiety and a loss of global status. At the moment, one of the biggest challenges we face is the stay-at-home orders set in place to help minimize the spread of COVID-19.

With roughly 94.5% of the U.S. population facing some form of a lockdown restriction, many people find themselves spending several hours of the day with others under the same roof. For some, this means spending quality time with close friends who can provide some form of comfort during this time of uncertainty. For others, however, quarantine means spending time with a roommate who can stir up problems and escalate household tensions. If you find yourself having difficulty with your roommate under quarantine restrictions, you’ll want to follow some guidelines to help you overcome those challenges and ease your mental health through this ongoing pandemic.

Establish open communication regarding guidelines

With so many updates about the virus flooding your social media pages and news networks, it can feel overwhelming when you’re trying to follow health recommendations while staying on good terms with your roommate. Conflicts are bound to arise at some point. In those instances, it’s important to communicate openly with your roommate about establishing some basic health guidelines. These guidelines should be designed to address health recommendations that can lessen the chances of becoming infected with COVID-19 while ensuring that your living environment remains stable during this time of crisis.

These guidelines may include, but not be limited to, disinfecting commonly used areas, sanitizing your bathroom, and leaving no dirty plates. The goal here is to ensure that you and your roommate stay on the same page about how best to manage the pandemic quarantine. Don’t refrain from speaking up about your concerns or frustrations regarding your roommate’s handling of the situation. Expressing your anger appropriately can be beneficial.  You and your roommate can also agree on certain expectations regarding household tasks to ensure that each of you remains an active participant during this quarantine period.

Establish privacy expectations

It’s understandable to feel frustrated when this pandemic has practically shattered your privacy. Spending several hours of the day in the same household with others can make it seem as if there’s no room for solitude and relaxation.  This is especially true for individuals with mental health conditions who end up living together. Also, having to adjust your daily routine to accommodate for the well-being of others can increase your levels of frustration.  Under these circumstances, it’s best to establish a routine that emphasizes respect for privacy and accommodation of your roommate’s wishes.

For example, you and your roommate can create a daily schedule about using the TV in the dining area or when someone can engage in a workout routine without disturbing the other. You can also negotiate who buys groceries in a particular week to avoid unnecessary travel outside the home. The key here is to find solitude and establish boundaries that meet each party’s expectations. Establish a middle ground with your roommate so that the burden of this quarantine won’t take a massive toll on your mental health.

Find common interests

The truth is, we don’t know how long this quarantine period will last. It could take several weeks or a few months before we can return to our regular lives and not have to practice social distancing. In the meantime, find ways to stay connected with others even if it’s with people who don’t share similar interests. A meta-analysis study found that feelings of loneliness and social isolation can increase risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke. In these cases, reach out to your roommate and come up with creative ways to spend time together through shared activities.

This may include watching a movie, streaming a favorite show, cooking something together, or even having light-hearted conversations. You never know what you might discover. Perhaps you and your roommate have more in common than you previously thought. Now more than ever, it’s vital to maintain some form of social connection to keep us going through this difficult period. Finally, it’s important to understand that a situation like this requires collaboration from all of us. Not only should we work together to flatten the pandemic curve, but we must show others that we do not have to face this pandemic in isolation.


About the Author: Ernesto Fierro currently lives in southern Arizona and has experience producing content on fitness and wellness-related topics. Combined with his degree in Psychology, Ernesto hopes to provide some guidance through reading material meant to shed some light on the stigma of mental illness.


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