In the second in a series of short storys, psychologist Linda McCarrin discusses the benefits of compassion for others and ourselves.

Her videos are designed to keep people feeling calm and resilient in the face of COVID-19, a pandemic that has touched every aspect of our lives and profoundly disrupted our sense of well-being and produced uncertainty and anxiety.

Drawing on insights from the center’s Science of Happiness online course, podcast series and magazine, Linda McCarrin shares tips on how to manage stress and find meaningful connections while social distancing, completing each video with simple, science-tested practices useful for this moment in time.

Today, in the face of COVID-19, the frustrations couples normally express in counseling sessions — such as financial worries, the division of chores, intimacy or a lack thereof and conflicting views on child-rearing — are taking a scarier turn.

“People are asking themselves, ‘What if I get sick?’ ‘What if my partner gets sick?’ ‘What if we can’t get enough food?’ ‘What if we lose a job?’ ‘What if the world order crumbles, and it doesn’t feel safe to be out in the street?’” Levenson said. “This is a crucible that people are being thrust into, and it’s just not business as usual.”

More than 20% of the global population is currently under lockdown. Unlike World War II, which gave way to the baby-boom generation, demographers agree the 2020 coronavirus pandemic is more apt to drive up divorce rates than birth rates, as can be gauged in parts of China where the first COVID-19 cases were detected, and severe shutdowns were enforced.

Don’t feel bad about feeling bad
For highly sensitive people, spousal lockdown can feel viscerally excruciating, as familiar routines are disrupted and irritations fester over how one or the other partner eats, breathes, sleeps and generally goes about their business. Add children to the mix, and tempers can explode.

“A lot of adults are struggling right now with lowered productivity, given the remote work situation, and — if they’re parents — with having kids afoot and having to home-school them”.