KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Keeping everything together during a pandemic is unfamiliar territory for many.

It’s safe to say many people right now are doing their best to keep everything together: Jobs, relationships, their children’s education and especially their mental health. But how to deal with stress during this pandemic and not lash out? We went to seek the answers.

WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with Dr. Patricia Roberson, a nursing professor at UT, about ways to manage our family relationships and come out of this quarantine stronger.

“This is a stressful time,” said Dr. Roberson.

More: Tracking Coronavirus

She says our mental health right now is crucial and making a routine can help, but it looks different if you live alone or with a family.

“So, if you’re home alone, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re maintaining communication and connections to the outside world,” explained Dr. Roberson. “Kids are used to schedules at school anyway, so trying to implement some sort of schedule that is regular to keep the kids learning and give them a sense of normalcy as well.”

Dr. Roberson says to establish flexible boundaries, from needing time alone to topics that can only be discussed at certain parts of the day and communicate.

“Just acknowledge that this is a hard time,” she said. “None of us are going to do it perfect, give yourself and give your partner and give your children and friend and family that grace that this is a hard time.”

Everyone argues and there are going to be differences while families are in quarantine, Dr. Roberson says how you argue under stress can be problematic.

“Just recognize your pattern of interaction. Recognize when this happens, the second one is to make sure and take ownership of the negative and how you’re contributing to these patterns. A pattern is between multiple people, not just one person. And if you do something you know that you probably shouldn’t have, some sort of argument that was mean or you say something that was mean, an apology goes a really long way,” said Dr. Roberson.

She says managing stress can be challenging too during this pandemic and it looks different for everyone, “It could look like making sure to do regular exercise, maybe its communicating with your partner or children that we need a daily schedule, maybe it’s having alone time so you can reflect or quiet your mind or maybe it’s just having time to get half of your to do list done.”

Most importantly, Dr. Roberson says have fun and connect with your loved ones, “There are always silver linings, having that positive outlook will also long term kind of help your mental health get through.”

Dr. Roberson with her colleagues Sarah Woods with University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Jacob Priest with University of Iowa all discuss relationship issues on a podcast. You can listen to each episode by clicking here.

During this pandemic, Dr. Roberson points out that it can be a stressor for families who deal with domestic violence issues.

Domestic Violence resources

Tennessee Domestic Violence Helpline 1-800-356-6767

Haven House

Haven House domestic violence services assists in crisis, shelter and resources for victims and survivors. The Haven House crisis hotline is 865-982-1087.

Knoxville Family Justice Center

Knoxville Family Justice Center serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and has a support center that provides services such as prosecutors, detectives, clergy and social service professionals. 

Its 24/7 family violence helpline is 865-521-6336.

The Salvation Army/The Joy D. Baker Center

The Salvation Army’s Knoxville Area Command offers domestic violence recovery programs and the Joy D. Baker Center for emergency shelter for women/children affected by domestic violence. If you need help call 865-525-9401.

Legal resources:

  • Attorney General’s Office (Criminal Court) 865-215-2515
  • Orders of Protection (Fourth Circuit Court) 865-215-2404
  • Legal Aid of East Tennessee (Divorce, OP) 865-215-6830

The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-7233.