Originally published in Jet Magazine
I’m sure you can relate, but I use to let things build to a crescendo. Work stress, taking care of my significant other, my daughter and everyone else’s needs above my own would literally push my stress levels so high to the point where I would hit the wall. Not literally, but emotionally. And I would just keep trying to continue to push myself forward without taking time to pause and care for myself.
As you can imagine, this was quite ineffective. The bottom line was that when I neglected my own self-care, everything around me got out of whack.
If you are in a relationship and also taking care of children, family and/or friends, self-care is easily lost. But self-care is critically important to you keeping your sanity. It sets the foundation to help you to have a healthier relationship. It prevents burnout, helps you re-focus, all the while counteracting the negative effects of stress.
Here are five rules of self-care that helped me stay sane while in a relationship. I hope they are helpful for you.
1) Take time to do what makes you happy.
It sounds cliché, but it’s true. How many times have you needed some quiet time or rest, but you pushed yourself to do something for someone else instead? You may have ended up resenting the person in which you did the selfless act for because you weren’t taking the time you desperately needed for yourself. And because we receive mixed messages that helping others should always come first – blah, blah, blah, self-care gets mixed reviews. Yes there’s a time for caring for others, but it’s equally, if not more important, to take time for you too. Taking time for yourself is not about being selfish. It’s about rejuvenating yourself so that you can be better for others around you.
2) Don’t lose a sense of who you are and why your partner is attracted to you.
When you love someone, it’s natural to want to spend as much time as you can with them. And it’s so easy to make them your whole universe. But, there is a saying that can ring true even in the best relationship, “familiarity breeds contempt.” Be there for your mate, but don’t get so lost in him or her that you neglect your friendships and social activities. Keeping a healthy sense of self makes you more attractive to your partner. People find it sexy when you have interests and passions beyond them.
3) Keep some mystery about yourself.
Always be discovering, growing and learning about yourself. This enhances who you are and keeps your relationship fresh. You know how we love a little mystery in our man? Well men are similar. They love some mystery to their women. I’m not saying you should play games with your partner. But, what I am saying is that it’s OK to not be so TMI all of the time. When you have many facets to you, you become more appealing, attractive, and alluring. People love to be with someone who they are constantly learning about.
4) Establish healthy forms of communication with your significant other.
Your partner can’t read your mind. So don’t get mad when they don’t know what’s bothering you or if you’ve had a bad day. Exercise self-care by learning how to express when you are happy, sad or frustrated in a respectful way to your mate. Healthy, honest, and open communication is the key to having a good relationship. A relationship in which couples don’t know how to communicate respectfully with one another is one that is short-lived and drama-filled.
5) Don’t keep count of the mistakes your partner makes in your relationship.
All relationships have both good and challenging times. Hash things out and then let them go. Reliving the past over and over just builds frustration and resentment, and causes an inordinate amount of stress killing your self-care progress. Plus you’re making some mistakes too! If it’s hard to verbally express what you are feeling frustrated about in your relationship, write it out in a letter to your partner or jot it down to get it off your chest. Some people are better writers than communicators. Plus it gives your partner a chance to read and really process what you are saying. On the back end, you may be able to have better discussions on how to address both of your feelings, angst, and frustrations and come up with some better remedies to solve them.
Self-care in a relationship is often overlooked. But if you are not caring for your own needs, it’s difficult to care for someone else’s. The reality is every relationship takes continuous work. Using these self-care techniques will help your relationship to thrive and be healthier.
Elizabeth Overstreet is a relationship coach and author. Her book, “The Relationship Investigator’s Fast Guide to Successful Dating is available now on Amazon.
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