I’ll never forget the first time I went to visit my boyfriend in Wales after meeting him here in Barcelona last July.
You can imagine how excited I was to get off the plane. We hadn’t seen each other in three weeks and my nerves were through the roof. I knew he would be there in the arrivals lounge ready to take me in his arms and give me a kiss, but I had to make it through passport control first.
I expected it to be a breeze. Answer a few simple questions, get the stamp and glide right through. I gave my passport and landing card to the officer, she looked me up and down, and asked me who I would be staying with.
“A friend,” I said.
“A friend or a boyfriend?”
I wasn’t sure what to say, but before I could respond she cut me off and said . . .
“Oh, I see. It’s complicated.” ???
Yep. It’s complicated. Just like it’s complicated when it comes to relationships and stress.
Relationships can bring our stress levels way up, but they also have the power to bring them way down.
Here are a few of my favorite ways that you and your honey can stress a little less and love a little more:
1) The six-second kiss: This one comes from relationship expert John Gottman. Instead of just pecking your lover hello and goodbye, stick around for a while and lock lips for six seconds once a day. This may seem like a long amount of time, but it’s what your brain needs to know that you are safe and fully trusting of the person that you’re with.
2) The twenty-second hug: When I left my boyfriend Tuesday morning, I made sure to give him an extra long hug. One, because I’m not going to see him until next month and two because leaving (no matter how many times I do it) is always stressful. Hugging like this lowers your blood pressure, improves your mood, and has a positive effect on your hormones too. Not bad for something that you can do in under a minute!
3) Laughter: Have you ever heard, “The couple who laughs together, stays together?” According to the research, laughing together makes us feel happier in our relationships and more satisfied overall. Even thinking back on times when you shared a laugh together can make you feel more connected and less stressed out.
4) Get physical: Having sex is a huge stress reliever, but so is exercise! Whether it’s hitting the gym together or just taking a walk, getting out and getting moving is one of the most effective ways to move through stress and let your body know that it’s no longer under threat. Of course you can go it alone, but working up a sweat with your partner is a great option too!
5) Share your worries and your fears: I don’t know about you, but a lot of my stress comes from the stories I create in my head (most of which have little or no basis in reality). When I share what’s on my mind with my partner, I feel comforted, supported, and heard. Talk about a potent recipe for stress relief!
While these are all ways to reduce your stress together, it’s also important to take care of your stress alone (there’s that complicated thing again).
What about you? Do you and your partner manage your stress together? Which of the above ideas are your favorites?