TIPS FOR STRENGTHENING RELATIONSHIPS WHEN PRESSURES START BUBBLING TO THE SURFACE
The COVID-19 pandemic has created massive shifts in our daily lives.
Many couples and families are finding themselves spending much more time together than they ever have! Like many things, this can be both good and bad.
I have noticed that people have been struggling with feeling that they are not spending enough QUALITY time with loved ones. They are basically in survival mode 24/7. Work and responsibilities seem to crowd up time more than usual. Being in close quarters with the same person (or people) for weeks on end while experiencing other significant life changes all at the same time (i.e., loss of social life, loss of daily routine, etc.) can make it even harder.
Relationship issues will likely and understandably bubble to the surface under such conditions.
It can feel quite literally like your mind and body are in a pressure cooker just waiting to explode. There are things you can do, though, to strengthen your relationships and allow the build-up to healthily release some of the pressure.
Here are some ideas I have cooked up that I have found to be helpful for myself and for my clients:
It sounds simple, but sometimes taking thirty minutes together to just sit silently in each other’s arms can work wonders. You don’t need to talk at all. This is not the time to try and hash out issues. Sustained physical touch helps your body release oxytocin, a bonding hormone that also helps us relax. Of course, it can be tough to do this after an argument or days of irritating each other, but give it a try. You might be surprised.
If you are not in quarantine with someone who you can cuddle with, there are studies suggesting that curling up under a weighted blanket could offer similar deep pressure stimulation, simulating the effects of a firm hug and even have similar health benefits to a massage or even swaddling.
Remember The Good Times
When you find yourselves at your last straw with each other, take a big step back. Remember all the times you got through other scenarios together. Think about what you admire about each other. Look at old pictures and recall fun memories. Try to recreate those first feelings of romance (or if you are trying to resolve relationships with parents, siblings, children or close friends, think of the feelings you felt when your relationship was at its best). Try to remember the best qualities about them. You can even make a photo album of the good times with captions of what you were feeling in the photos, design a collage, write in a journal, or write a poem about all the good times. This funk is only temporary. Good times will happen again.
Give Each Other Space
Recognizing that each of you will need time to yourselves is essential (different people need different amounts of space and time). Just know that it’s completely normal to get on each other's nerves when you are cooped up together for long periods of time.
Give each other permission to hole up alone in the bedroom for a few hours or go for long walks and drives alone. Keep in touch with your friends during this time as a social outlet. Don’t be offended when your partner does the same.
If you have the luxury of space, try to make yourself an oasis, a designated space somewhere special, that is all yours to be alone in and to do the activities you enjoy alone, when you need it.
Remove the Microscope
Remember that you’re under trying times right now. The added stress of “too much togetherness” can make small issues feel like really large ones. It can feel like you have a microscopic perspective on every issue.
Just know, everyone is undergoing stress from the pandemic right now. There is so much uncertainty all around us; Uncertainty about work, school, finances, and what the new normal will look like… and it’s eating away at everybody in different ways.
Try to separate whatever stress you are feeling towards the pandemic itself from how you’re feeling toward your partner, your child, your parent etc. right now. How would you look at this situation differently if the pressure was released and you could see through a clear lens?
When we can shift our perspective and zoom out a bit, noticing each challenge for it’s bigger picture, we will be better set up to let our frustrations slide off our backs like oil on Teflon.
Try to Have Fun
When the pressures rise, it can be easy to forget to have fun.
Try to put stress on the back-burner even for an hour a day (or whatever time you can spare) just to have fun together. Find funny movies to watch or tell funny stories about your life together. Look for comedians to watch together online. Play!
Play and laughter are huge stress relievers and can magically erase a day’s worth of crabbiness. Having fun together and being silly can reconnect people like nothing else.
If problems become more prominent than you feel you can handle on your own, reaching out to a therapist or a couples counselor can make a world of difference.
I offer a solid base of experience in guiding individuals and couples through their struggles.
I also offer teletherapy sessions during the pandemic, that can be done in the comfort of your own home. They have proven to be as effective as in-person sessions. I’d love to talk with you if you’re ready to strengthen your relationship.
For more info visit my website www.integrativepsych.co .