Let’s face it. The majority of us are more stressed than we would like to be. Most of us are aware of the impact stress has on our lives (poor sleep, weight gain, increased anxiety, burnout etc) but how many of you pay attention to the impact stress has on your relationship?
Stress can impact our relationship in a multitude of ways. Some of the more common ways it hurts our relationship are:
- Communication: Often when we are stressed our ability to communicate diminishes. Perhaps we shut down and just don’t feel like talking or maybe we become more short and cold in our interactions.
- Sex Life: When we are stressed our sex drive is impacted because the stress hormone Cortisol is released in higher doses in our body. Cortisol suppresses our sex hormones. Low sex hormones = low libido
- Fighting: When we struggle to live a balanced life and our stress levels are too high we tend to fight more with our partner. We become more sensitive to things our partner does/doesn’t do and stress makes our fuse shorter.
- We are unhappy: We all know that when our partner is unhappy we usually don’t experience happiness and joy to the same degree as we normally would. This means that both people are left feeling unhappy, unsatisfied and disconnected in their relationship.
The good thing is that there are a few easy things we can do that can help lower our stress levels and increase connection in our relationship:
- Figure out what the main stressors are. If there is a way of delegating these to someone else, do it. If not, are there rituals you can put in place that will help decrease your stress. For ex/ can front load your work day with the more stressful things at the beginning of your day and the least stressful at the end, making you less stressed/more relaxed when you get home.
- Prioritize your self care: Making your needs important can be hard when there are so many other things that need to get done in our day. The challenge is that when we don’t take care of ourselves we are less likely to be in a good headspace and present for our partner when he/she needs us. Create a daily schedule that allows you to engage in the activities that recharge and balance you even if it means getting up a few minutes earlier in the morning.
- Engage in physical activity as a couple: It is easy to want to dismiss the role exercise plays in stress release but the research is undeniable. Pick up a physical activity with your partner and/or your family. Maybe you go for a walk every night after dinner. Or perhaps you start playing tennis together again. The exercise doesn’t have to be grueling but it does need to be a priority even just for 30 minutes a few times a week.
- Have A Date Night: When we are stressed our relationship often gets neglected. Add to it that our partner often becomes the receiver of our stress and it becomes clear just how needed proper healthy connection really is. Make the commitment to try to escape your usual routine and get out for a date night. When you are on this date, commit to not talking about work or all the other stressors in your life and rather focus on how you can reconnect with your partner.
- Stop making excuses: It is easy to rationalize all the reasons why you are stressed and how you are helpless in the situation. The truth is we all have the ability to choose. This isn’t to say we won’t experience stress in our lives but we all can choose whether we are going to take care of ourselves and our relationship when stress runs high, or if we are going to be neglectful instead. Investing in your relationship, research has shown, is one of the best things you can do for you health. So stop making excuses as to why you are stressed and instead invest in ways to lower your stress and make your relationship better.