Sometimes life just plain gets you down. You’ve got too much to do, you feel totally drained, and you can’t seem to find one single damn moment to breathe. Stressed out becomes your norm. Your creative energy and patience? They’re gone. Communication skills? Dismal at best, nonexistent at worst. You spend most of your time feeling ungrounded and cranky AF. If any of this sounds familiar, here’s how to deal with stress in your relationship
When you’re stressed, both you and your partner(s) suffer
First, you stop doing the things that make you feel more grounded, nourished, and energized, including connecting with your partner(s). Then, you start taking things out on them. You half listen when they talk and snap at them more often than you respond.
Next comes the guilt and maybe even shame because you “know better.” You know what you need so why aren’t you doing it? You know they’re just trying to help, so why are growing resentful? Hell wouldn’t it just be easier to not have to deal with your relationship? Right now its just one more thing on your to-do list.
Stress can sabotage your sex life and relationship
For many, stress hits the brakes on your desire, making you totally disinterested in getting it on. For others, it amps things up, making your must-have-it-now horny.
Stress can also mess with your body image, making you less likely to want sexy times. Plus we tend to take our stress out on those closest to us. Never mind that with all that conflict in the air, it’s easy to find yourself questioning your partner(s) and/or your relationship.
The question is what the heck can you do?
How to Deal with Stress In Your Relationship
There are many different ways how you can deal with stress in your relationship. Here are some of the ones our clients find the most supportive.
Turn your guilt and stress into action
You know you’ve been here before (and survived we might add). So, take that energy and use it.
What techniques, tricks, and tools have helped you get grounded, energized, and de-stressed in the past? Though it can be hard to remember these in the moment, practice them whenever you can. That way, in moments of stress, overwhelm, frustration, and confusion, these techniques can be more a default response than yelling at your beau or bestie over something trivial.
Feel your feelings
When you get super stressed or overwhelmed or frustrated, it’s common to want rid yourself of those feelings. You label them as “bad” or “negative.” And, in your attmept to move on, you end up taking them out on your partner, friend, or favourite barista.
Unfortunately, research shows trying to avoid the emotion has the opposite effect—it prolongs your experience said emotions! Instead, the answer is to feel your feelings.
If you’re like “Kait how does one ‘fold in the cheese’?!” (errrr feel your feelings), here are two ways.
- GTFO of your head. From sitting or standing, place your feet firmly on the ground. Let your gaze soften or your eyes drift shut. Visualize roots growing from the bottom of your feet into the earth, all the way to her core. Now, press into those points of contact (e.g. feet on floor, butt on chair, hands on side of legs). Feel yourself being fully supported. Release and repeat a few times.
- Shake (or cry, dance, or orgasm) it out. All emotions, including stress, have a beginning, middle, and end. For too many of us, stress gets stuck before it reaches the end of its journey. This makes sense! Sometimes we need to compartmentalise. However, we also ned to go back and find release. In the moment this can look like stomping and shaking it out. You may want to do this daily if you deal with chronic stress.
Read more: 6 Exercises for Better Sex
When you find yourself in a downward spiral of shame, guilt, or catastrophizing, do your best to notice and name it. Then, go do something else for a few minutes. Dance, journal, cook, sing, shower, masturbate, run, draw, etc. The moment you least want to take a break is when you most need it.
A note: Don’t let this practice add to your stress. Instead, celebrate every time you catch yourself in a feels spiral or can call yourself on your own BS.
Schedule time to connect
Find 30 minutes when you’re both free and block it off to do something—anything—together.
The ideal activity will not only help you reconnect but also be a stress reliever. Sex is a great idea. So is watching a funny TV show, spending time in nature, or playing a silly game. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, schedule a video date. Not sure what to talk about? The intimacy deck from Best Self has got you covered with 150 prompts.
Ask for Help
We know, we know—you hate doing that! But one of the best things you can do when hella stressed is admit that you can’t do it all. Figure out what you need, send your ego to the corner, and ask for it.
Maybe it would help if they…
- cooked something simple with pantry staples
- gave you a massage
- walked the dog (or cleaned the litter box)
- went for a walk
- gave you a hug
- cheered you on
- talked you through some breathing exercises
- made sure your water bottle is always full
- took over the chores you usually do
Given we are cyclic creatures, it can also help to give them a “game plan” for next time. Try, “Hey babe – the next time I lose my shit, can you do x?”
You aren’t alone if you forget to tell your partner when your schedule gets bananas! Do your best to give them a heads up OR if you don’t do that, just tell them while it’s happening. This doesn’t give you the go-ahead to lash out whenever you want but it helps your partner manage their expectations…and maybe inspires them to do something sweet (flowers? dishes? a massage? yes please!). If you do end up fighting? Here are 11 tips to fight fairly and productively.
Recognize when they’re trying to help.
Everyone deals with stress differently. That’s why it’s so important to ask for what you need. But even if you do, your partner might still try to help in their own unique way. Try to take a beat and notice if their behaviour comes from a good place (even if its driving you absolutely bonkers).
Practice, practice, practice
Learning how to deal with stress in your relationship takes time and patience. So be gentle with yourself when you revert to old habits. And be sure to celebrate every little thing you do to support yourself, your beau(s), and your relationship.
Take a deep breath and know this too shall pass
Sometimes the only thing you can do is hold on tight, get through it, and remember the most important lesson of all:
Whether it’s sickness, fights, stress at work, or anything else…eventually this too shall pass (somehow, someway). PS This post brought to you by a body full of Benadryl and the worst allergic reaction I’ve had in a while. It’s basically been my mantra all day. And it’s super appropros for relationships too. Win-win!