Love does wonderful things for your state of mind, and it also offers natural stress relief. In healthy relationships, the power of love is strong enough to keep your heart happy and your mind and body healthy.
Stress Relief: How Love Helps
Sharing in life’s joys and challenges is one of the great benefits of being in a relationship.
“When you are in a loving marriage or a good relationship, you have somebody there to share your worries with, to talk through problems with, to enjoy free time with,” says Sally R. Connolly, a social worker and therapist with the Couples Clinic of Louisville in Louisville, Ky. Relationships can provide stress relief by simply not leaving you to shoulder every burden completely on your own, Connelly explains.
You also have someone “to visualize the future with. Somebody who is there for you and witnesses your life,” adds Connolly. A number of studies have found that people in healthy marriages live longer and have fewer health problems than people who are unhappily married or not in a relationship, according to Connolly. Such is the power of love. What’s more, people who are happily married not only benefit from stress relief, they suffer less often from depression, too.
A loving partner can share the responsibility of stressful situations, offer support, a listening ear, and advice when you need it. And when you need to remember happier, easier times, a loving partner can help with that as well.
Stress Relief: Mending Relationships
If you have a relationship with a spouse, partner, or loved one that is a little rocky, focus on fixing it. An unhealthy relationship is just one more stressor that you don’t need, and repairing it can provide stress relief and improve your health — and, you’ll just feel better about it.
Getting started can be tough, but Connolly suggests just reaching out to your loved one. Consider whether there was a problem or issue that divided the relationship that needs to be addressed before you can move on. Or, if you just grew apart, work on rebuilding that relationship.
Stress Relief: Warming Up to Relationships
Not everyone is comfortable with affection — perhaps it’s just your personality or the influence of family when you were growing up. If being affectionate is difficult for you, consider trying to start expressing your feelings to those in your life who you love, to strengthen these relationships.
“Showing affection may actually only be a habit, and people can learn how to change habits,” says Connolly.
She recommends starting in small steps, reaching out physically (hugging or a gentle touch) or with affectionate words or actions. From there, she says, you can slowly build on your relationship and your physical affection. “Congratulate yourself each time that you stretch out of your comfort zone, and notice the effect that it has on your partner,” says Connolly.
Stress Relief: Learning to Show Affection
She also suggests that you consider what kind of affection you want in your relationship, visualize what that affection is and how to show it, and practice those activities in your head to get accustomed to being more affectionate. Read books about ways of showing affection, or look for examples in movies or television shows.
“Think about affection and how much you care about the person that you want to show affection to. Think about that a lot during the day,” says Connolly.
Life presents many challenges and stressors, and you need someone there to support you through the difficult times — whether it’s a good friend, family member, spouse, or partner. And it’s equally important to have someone to share in happy times and celebrations. Take time to focus on the relationships in your life, and reap the benefits. Just knowing that you have love, support, and help from a loved one can give you positive stress relief.