In a relationship that otherwise feels healthy and connected, this period of time can bring up some aggravation, irritation, conflict, and new issues you never had before.
You might be experiencing
- A loss of personal space and privacy which is important, even in any long term committed relationship
- A lot of new stressors such as uncertainty in the future of your career and financial stability which can greatly affect your relationship
- Stress that came from having everyone home all the time, including the kids, who also needed help with learning, help with food, and everyday needs
- The stress of having to work at home as well as the family at home at the same time and in the same place – especially if this is new territory for everyone
Even though lockdown restrictions may be starting to ease, you’re basically getting used to a new normal right now without a guarantee on how long it will last and how to plan for a future. It makes sense to feel a disruption in your relationship that wasn’t there previously.
This is a time to communicate before it escalates. The question is, how do we communicate and confront each other from a place of love and curiosity right now? How do you communicate through conflict?
- Make a specific time for meeting and checking in and talking things out each week so there you aren’t leaving things unexpressed and letting it build-up
- When you do talk, state what’s going on with you without making accusations. For example “When this happens, I feel ____” “I notice this happens and when it does, it impact me in this way _____”
- Always be curious and ask questions over blaming.
- Establish a plan for how to respond in the moment when things are stressful
We all crave to be seen and heard, especially during times of vulnerability.
You might even feel like your partner isn’t the same person you’ve always known. It might seem like a sudden personality change took place. We all respond to stress and trauma differently and it can cause us to act in ways we wouldn’t normally.
Don’t take it personally.
We also all receive self-care and nourishment in ways that might feel suddenly gone. We receive energy in different ways. If you or your spouse are more extroverted and used to renew your energy by going out of the house and spending time around other people, that source of replenishment is not there right now. That can lead to feeling fatigued, sluggish, depressed, and even numb.
Some of us respond to stress by going numb or checking out.
It’s not anyone’s fault. It is, however, beneficial to everyone to recognize what is going on for you and make time to communicate. Becoming conscious and aware can take the charge out of it and give you a chance to step back and notice without judgment.
The time you take to address your relationship does impact your overall health and well being.
You might be reading this because something feels off in your relationship and you’re looking for an answer, especially for what you can do during this difficult period with Covid-19(Coronavirus) affecting so many of us. Or, you’re curious about the topic of conscious relationships and how they affect our physical and mental health.
No matter the reason, this post is for anyone who has ever been in or is currently in a relationship with another person, whether that is with a friend, a family member, or a significant other, especially if you are all sharing the same space right now. Your closest relationships affect both your psychology and physiology. So let’s talk about all of that and go over some solutions and name any toxic traits in your relationships that need to be addressed.
Firstly, what is a healthy relationship vs a toxic relationship?
As a practitioner who sees a lot of different types of relationships, I prefer to name the toxic and positive traits I observe in all relationship connections. You could be with someone you love dearly and with whom you plan to spend the rest of your life. Of course, there will still be some harmful relationship habits to notice and observe so you can both work to mend and heal in ways that bring you closer. This also has the effect of boosting your overall health.
A toxic relationship can be defined by one where there are frequent behaviors that cause a lot of stress and emotional and even physical damage to one’s health. A healthy relationship will more likely, on the other hand, boost self-esteem and emotional health of both individuals.
Traits in many healthy relationships include:
- Intentional and mutual caring behaviors and words toward one another
- Respect for each other’s autonomy and personhood
- Compassion toward each other
- An interest in the well being and success of each other
- Feelings of safety and trust
- Clear communication and agreements, even about grievances
- Honesty with one another about all things
- Transparency about each other’s needs wants and desires in a relationship
- A feeling that you can always be yourself with this person
Traits in many toxic relationships include:
- Dominance is asserted over the other person through emotional manipulation or physical intimidation
- Self-centeredness on one person’s part where it may feel like everything is always about them or they’re not interested
- Using guilt to manipulate
- Lying which includes leaving information out, broken trust
- Yelling, the silent treatment, gaslighting, stonewalling during conflict
- Lack of accountability and has to always be right, deflects during all conflict
- Belittling of the other person through insults or constantly making fun of them, especially in front of others
- Undependable and doesn’t take ownership of it, making commitments but always breaking them
- Using the other person to get what they want and rarely reciprocating
- Keeping score of who does what and using that against each other
- Frequently threatening to leave especially when they know they’ve done something hurtful and they want to deflect
- Blaming you for making them feel a certain way instead of taking ownership over their emotions. Example “You make me so mad all the time.”
- Lots of jealousy
How do you know which type of relationship you’re in?
Again, all relationships can have a mix of both! Some relationships are truly toxic and abusive and the best course of action is to take steps to get out. In other cases, however, the relationship itself may not be toxic. Each individual can pause to take a look at the way their behaviors contribute to the distress and also how to change that pattern.
Here’s the thing, your mind and body will feel it when toxic traits are present in your relationships.
You’ll also feel noticeably better when you’re in a more conscious, mutually loving relationship with someone. Enough studies have shown that social connections benefit both your mental and physical health.
As a Mind-Body Practitioner who has studied both dynamic eating psychology, mind-body nutrition, stress relief management as well as conscious relationship, here’s what I want everyone to know: Your mental and physical health are never separate! One will always affect the other.
What mind-body health teaches us is that how you live your life and how conscious you are of your relationships to others, your daily habits, and your hidden stressors matter when it comes to taking back your health. If there are grievances or patterns in your most significant relationships, the sooner you become aware of them and address them the better for everyone overall.
When more conscious, you can take action where it matters in your relationships. When you notice what isn’t working in your relationships, you can make a statement about what is important for you to have in your relationship. You will then know more clearly where the work & effort is needed to improve the relationship and with whom it’s worth doing this work with.
So what can you do now?
Here are some suggested steps:
- Become aware of what’s not working. Become an observer in your relationships. Pay attention to how you react to certain interactions. Notice who you enjoy being around the most and why. Who are you the most tense around and why? Who are you spending most of your time around? Are they healthy for you?
- Write a clear relationship manifesto for yourself on what you know is important for you to have in friendships/partnerships. This is worth the time it takes to write. Many of us go through life not knowing what we really want in our relationships. Therefore, we end up in relationships where we reenact old wounds and behaviors. We might seek security in someone or give up our autonomy to be with someone because that feels safer, even if the relationship isn’t ideal. Take the time to know what you do and do not want. Your health will thank you.
- Be very clear about what is negatively impacting you and give examples. For example “When I get yelled at, I can feel my anxiety go up and my stomach starts hurting” If you can connect the symptom to the action, you’ll notice it when it’s happening and know how to act and respond.
- Mind how YOU show up in your relationships. Be honest about your own tendencies and habits. Do you go into the silent treatment instead of speaking clearly about what’s bothering you? Yell? Run? If you recognize this in a non-shaming way, you can work on those areas. We all have places we can improve in how we treat each other and react.
Conscious relationships take work. But it will be more work down the line to undo all the harm caused by not addressing the toxicity in your relationship. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Be patient, do the work, and be compassionate with yourself along the way.
At Nourishment Vitality we offer innovative results-focused wellness programs that address:
- Stress relief
- Relationship conflict – personal & professional
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- Conscious relationships
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