Stress shows up differently for everyone. You don’t want to say to your partner, “I don’t know why you get so stressed out all the time?” or “That wouldn’t bother me!”
There are a variety of reasons why your partner may be feeling stressed at a particular moment in time. What they need is SUPPORT and not judgment or criticism.
How can you help? Here are some tips. I’d be interested to learn which ones work in your relationship:
- Be aware that something is going on with your partner. They may just tell you what’s going on or begin to exhibit warning signs that signal distress such as becoming irritable, being unable to concentrate, growing very quiet or have difficulty sleeping.
- Don’t take it personally. It’s not your issue. Give them the space they need to work through it.
- Ask questions to prompt your partner’s thinking: “How was work today? What’s going on at work, how does that impact you? How long as this situation been happening, who else is affected, and what needs to change? What needs to happen to change it? What can you do? Who do you need to talk to?”
- Simply listen. The ability to express what is on their mind is a safe place (with you) and will help reduce your partner’s stress – just by getting it out there versus keeping it bottled up inside.
- Discuss ways to take control. Help your partner reschedule his/her time and break down to-do lists into smaller tasks that are more manageable and less overwhelming. If needed, help your partner develop their assertiveness.
- Encourage physical activity together. Go for a walk, bike ride, workout at the gym, work around the house or have great sex, anything to release tension.
- Encourage relaxation by giving your partner a massage, watching a non-violent movie, practicing yoga or meditation together, or share taking a nap.
- Offer comfort food or drinks like warm soups or teas, and avoid caffeine, alcohol or nicotine which are stimulants.
- Be there and let your partner know you love them, you are there for them and to let you know what they need from you or how you can help. Continue to be warm, loving, affectionate and calm. Giving your partner space to be themselves during stressful times is not always easy; however, it has a significantly positive impact on them.
What’s really nice is that when the ‘stress storm’ passes, most people will thank their partner for their support and many have said that it made a huge difference in their ability to cope.