Take Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your Relationship

Relationship Advice - Take Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your MarriageIf there’s an emergency on an airplane that causes the oxygen masks to come down, parents are supposed to put their masks on first. Before they put masks on their children.

The idea is simple. You’ll be in a better position to take care of them after doing what you can to ensure your own physical well-being.

Well, the same general rule applies to relationships. When people are happy, healthy, and feeling good, they are far more likely to appreciate their significant other and be satisfied with the relationship.

You may have noticed this in your own relationship. If you or your partner are tired, sick, or just plain stressed out about something, the claws tend to come out. Everything that either of you does is taken in the worst way possible. You have less patience to deal with one another.

Many couples come to me in this state. They tell me that they fear for their relationship. Things are deteriorating. They’re drifting apart. They’re always fighting or short with each other.

And they want relationship help. Tools they can use as a couple to right the ship before things spiral out of control.

So I give them those tools. Communication tips. Ways to show appreciation. And so on and so forth.

But I also tell them to do something else first. Take care of their own needs. Sometimes that’s the most powerful relationship advice I share. That they each are important as individuals.

This is particularly true for women. We are often the caretakers. For our kids. Our spouses. Maybe even our parents. We forgot the importance of our own needs.

But remember that oxygen mask! When you are well physically, emotionally, and spiritually, you have greater strength to lend to your family. You can be a better caretaker by taking time for yourself.

So today I wanted to share with you two “self-care” tips that have recently been backed up by research.

1. Get more sleep.

A Florida State study found that people who get more sleep respond better to negative relationship experiences. It works for both men and women, but men in particular were found to be better able to handle relationship hiccups if they were well-rested.

In other words, if you complain to your tired husband about how he leaves his dirty clothes everywhere, a fight might ensue. Later, he might still hold negative feelings about the relationship just due to that one incident.

In contrast, a well-rested husband will take the incident in stride and realize that it’s just one minor blip in what is otherwise a great relationship. If he’s feeling really good, there might not even be a fight at all.

So reassess your morning and night routine. Are there ways for both of you to get more sleep on an average night?

2. Embrace your spiritual health.

According to research, people who describe themselves as spiritual are more likely to experience a host of physical and mental health benefits, including:

  • Happiness
  • Longer lives
  • Less risk of depression and suicide
  • Greater resilience
  • Increased faithfulness in relationships
  • More satisfaction in their family life

Oh, and as a nice bonus, their children are apparently happier, too.

Why does being spiritual seem to help? Several reasons.

Spiritual people are more likely to volunteer their time and donate, both of which have been shown to reduce stress. They’re more likely to spend time with their family and have a strong, like-minded community, something that bolsters happiness, health, and longevity. And they pray, which has been shown to lend comfort, encourage forgiveness, and overall lead to healthier relationships.

So it’s a form of self-care to make your religion or spiritual beliefs a priority for you and your family.

Of course, these aren’t the only things you can do to take care of yourself.

Splurge on a good massage. Relax with a bath. Go for a run. Listen to music. Devote a half hour each night to reading. Spend time with loved ones. Take a vacation.

One thing I recommend for everyone is carve out “you” time every day – whether that’s a 15-minute bath or an hour-long exercise class. The key is that it’s time set aside to focus on your own needs, so it doesn’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Whatever it is that helps you to let go of your stress and feel physically and emotionally better, do it! Because when you’re feeling your best, you’ll come to interactions with your spouse fresh, happy, and ready to deal with anything that comes your way in a more positive, productive manner.

Rooting for you!

Sara Freed

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