As the coronavirus outbreak continues to keep everyone indoors, friction may be growing between millions of flatmates, family members and partners.
As the restrictions on movement continue, here are 10 tips to avoid arguments in close quarters.
Dr Deborah Bailey-Rodriguez, a lecturer in psychology at Middlesex University London, said communication will be key as everyone adjusts to staying in lockdown.
She said: “Inevitably, there’s potential for more bickering and arguing as we get on each other’s nerves.
“Make time for each to communicate with each other, find some time to have good quality interactions on a daily basis or at least check in with each other to see how they are coping.”
2. Clean up after yourself
No matter what the type of relationship, failing to keep a tidy space is sure to breed upset and frustration.
Make sure to keep whatever space you have as clean as possible, but especially if it is a shared space such as a kitchen in a shared flat.
3. Make time for each other
Dr Bailey-Rodriguez said many people are likely to be more anxious due to the pandemic and may need extra support from their loved ones.
She said: “The coronavirus pandemic is a huge life event and life events are when relationship issues tend to be more salient and more prominent.”
As well as communicating and being together, the researcher said patience is especially important.
4. Pick your battles
Even if tensions have boiled over at home, there is a way back, Dr Bailey-Rodriguez said.She said: “If you’ve bickered with your partner or lost your cool, it happens. Just be kind and move on, don’t let the issue become a big rift during a time when you going to be stuck with each other.
“It is worth considering letting things go.”
5. Be aware of your actions
Although irritating the person you live with at one point or another is almost unavoidable, some arguments may be easier to avoid by recognising your own habits.
While it may not be possible to stop snoring, spending long periods inside with other people without a break will mean a change of habits.
6. Maintain contact with the outside world
Even though social distancing restrictions mean that we cannot physically see our friends and family, staying in touch with people outside your home is vital.
Dr Bailey-Rodriguez said: “Maintaining contact with the outside world, outside of the relationship, supports the relationship because we feel we have got other avenues for support.
“It all feeds one another and can take some of the pressure off the relationship by still being able to turn to others.”
7. Spend time apart
Even though you may be seeing your partner, flatmates or family more often than you may be used to, it’s still important to spend time apart.
Picking up a new solo hobby, spending time reading or online, or just spending quiet time alone in a different room may help diffuse any tension in the house.
8. Get some fresh air
Putting some distance between you and your home can also help prevent arguments – while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, spending some time outside and enjoying a change of scenery could be the key to letting go of some tension.
During the lockdown, you are allowed to leave your home to exercise once a day, although the Government warns against unnecessary travel, so go for a walk or jog near your home.
9. Be careful with social media
Dr Bailey-Rodriguez warns that while social media can help you stay connected, it could get in the way of the relationships with people at home.
She said: “Set some boundaries with social media and your relationship. While it is important to make time for the outside world, and social media might play a role in this, it is important to keep a balance.”
10. Have a routine
Having a routine can help prevent arguments at home by managing expectations and making sure there are no schedule clashes, Dr Bailey-Rodriguez said.
She said: “Have conversations about a routine or a structure that works for each person. Be explicit about it.
“Ask each other what are the best ways forward together so that you take into account each other’s needs.”