Relationship Minute: Self-Soothe to De-Escalate

When it comes to couples’ conflict, in the heat of the moment, it’s hard to calm down. You’re likely experiencing a physiological reaction, such as a faster heart rate or feeling flushed. In these moments, you’re flooded and that fight-or-flight response can either shut down your argument or turn it into World War 3.

It’s important to have some self-soothing techniques in your pocket so that when the next conflict arises (and it will), you’re ready to keep your cool.

Take time today to think about all the ways that bring you back to a rested state. Do you need to take a walk? Do you need to close your eyes and breathe deeply a few times? Practice making these techniques your go-to in an argument so you’re ready to self-soothe and relax. It will take things down a notch and allow you and your partner another chance to have a genuine dialogue.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Laughter

During times of stress, overwhelm, and upheaval, it can be difficult to find joy or humor in much at all. But it’s not a betrayal to yourself or the severity of the moment to still find things funny.

What makes you laugh? When was the last time you really laughed out loud?

Was it a podcast you enjoy, a movie that tickled you, or maybe even a really funny video or meme? Is there a way you can share that joy and laughter with your partner?

This week, or just today, seek out things that make you laugh. Find ways to laugh together.

The couple that plays together, stays together.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Transformation

Nature is a powerful teacher. To embrace transformation, look no further than deciduous trees, who change color, shed their leaves, and grow anew with the seasons.

These trees change in their own time, at the exact pace they’re meant to, and without fixating on the last phase. That we know of, trees don’t spend all winter missing their fallen leaves. There is a quiet confidence that new leaves will grow, and it is all part of the process.

What if relationships are the same way? Moving and transforming through phases—each season lasting as long as it is meant to before yielding to the next.

This year has called for an abundance of grace, patience, and surrender. How can you and your partner embrace change as it continues to propel you forward? What changes have resulted in losses that you still need to grieve?

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Overwhelm

In this episode of Lovett or Leave It from April, Dr. Ali Mattu offers six self-care tips to cope with coronavirus anxiety. These tips still apply, and can apply to the blanket feeling of overwhelm many are still facing: 

  1. Be compassionate toward yourself — it’s okay to not be okay. 
  2. Develop a routine — engage with certain anchor points or actions throughout the day to help ground you.
  3. Consume media that helps you detach from reality — take a break from what is overwhelming you. It’s okay to distract yourself. 
  4. Solve problems in your everyday life — doing this can help remove small barriers that can add up and increase a feeling of overwhelm. 
  5. Be grateful for the things that you have — it can help lift your spirits and the spirits of those who receive your gratitude. 
  6. Share how you are struggling — everyone is struggling in some way or another right now. Suffering is universal and it can be helpful to connect with people who can empathize. 

You are not alone, and the first person you can share your struggles with is your partner. Admitting to them, and to yourself, that things are hard or that you feel overwhelmed can be scary. But once you share your experience, you are opening up the door for them to do the same.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: The importance of rest

How do you “recharge your batteries”? Is it by getting lost in a good book, or maybe losing track of time in conversation with a friend? Maybe you recharge by meditating, taking a nap, tending to the plants, singing in the shower, or going online and adding things to your shopping cart, then clicking out of the site (no judgment here!).

By not taking time to rest, you limit your own capacity for empathy, positivity, creativity, and rationality, among other things. You can’t show up as your best self for your partner without first checking in and showing up for yourself.

And that means granting yourself permission to rest. Take the time and space you need to recharge, even if it means being less “productive” in that moment. Don’t expect your partner, or yourself, to be able to “do it all.” Rest is an essential human need, and we can support one another in making sure we’re stopping for rest, even if just for a few moments.

What if you created a new rest ritual together—a dedicated time once a day or once a week to D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Rest!) 

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Know thy self-care

“Self-care” is everywhere. It’s trendy and, as a concept, it’s extremely vague. The words “self-care” may conjure up images of bubble baths, mud masks, or anything involving essential oils.

But what if bubble baths don’t do it for you?

Self-care isn’t just about treating yourself—it’s about treating yourself well. And that looks different for everyone.

So what relaxes or soothes you? What makes you feel good in your body? What’s an experience or activity that makes the world slip away?

What did you enjoy doing as a kid? What about that activity or experience did you enjoy most?

Maybe your version of self-care is going for a run, or maybe it’s watching a favorite episode of a show you’ve already seen. Maybe you like to get immersed in a jigsaw puzzle or a novel—or maybe self-care means lighting all the candles you own, singing at the top of your lungs, and cleaning the toilet.

What does self-care look like for your partner? How is it similar to your version of self-care? How is it different? How can you create moments that facilitate self-care for each of you?

When you tune in to the things that light you from within, you are better able to share your light with others.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Take time to check in

Here are suggestions of four questions to check in with yourself: 

  • How can I give myself permission to accept joy in moments of sorrow? 
  • What are ways I can cultivate stillness into my daily life? 
  • Have I been moving the negative energy out of my body? How can I tend to my vessel? 
  • How can I honor my anger? 

Self-care is important, especially in times of collective overwhelm. If you aren’t tending to your own experience with awareness, it’s harder to connect with and love others.

What does self-care look like for you? It doesn’t have to be a bubble bath or a mud mask, as nice as those may be.

How can you create time for yourself to take stock? If you are undertaking the work of confronting your own biases, how can you do that with self-compassion?

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

Relationship Minute: Self-care and self-soothing

Self-care and self-soothing are both important skills to nurture.

Self-soothing is what you do to calm down and reset when you’re upset.

Self-soothing looks like:

  • Taking a 20-minute break from a conflict conversation
  • Breathing mindfully to reduce physiological overwhelm
  • Noticing tension in your body and releasing it

Self-care is what you do preventatively, to keep from getting upset.

Self-care looks like: 

  • Taking regular time to recharge
  • Spending time with people who lift you up and give you energy
  • Doing activities that you enjoy and find restorative

If you don’t take care of yourself, you risk operating with a shorter fuse when conflict arises. The more self-care you do, the less you will need to employ self-soothing.

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The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 27 February 2020. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.