In this month's Conscious Connections, we are focusing on how you can support your partner through deep stress. Stress is something that everyone experiences, and how we deal with that stress has the ability to affect not only ourselves, but our relationships and the people around us.
Here are a few things you can do if you are noticing your partner is stressed...
Validate their feelings
Sometimes the best way to support someone through their stress, is to validate their feelings and concerns.
Validation can sound like "I understand. This must be really hard," or "I hear what you're saying and I can see how stressful this is for you."
On the other hand, invalidating can sound like "You'll get over it." or "It's not that bad." You may be trying to help, but minimising what your partner is telling you can come across as dismissive.
Don't compare your stress
When your partner comes to you during moments of high stress, it is very important not to compare your stress or experiences to theirs. Although not the intention, comparing stress may make them feel worse.
During moments of intense emotion - like stress - we want to feel heard, seen and understood. It's important to allow your partner to vent their concerns, listen mindfully, validate their feelings and experiences, and try not to offer your thoughts or advice unless they ask for it.
When someone you care about is stressed or upset, sometimes we want to jump straight in to problem-solving mode. Oftentimes the best thing you can do for your partner in these moments, is just to be present and hold space for them. Instead of trying to fix things for your partner, meet them where they are at and create a safe space for them to feel and express their feelings.
Ask - don't assume
Try not to assume what your partner needs in the moment. They might want a listening ear, your thoughts, a hug, or they might need a bit of space to destress and unwind. It's okay to not know what your partner needs, and asking them directly is much more helpful than assuming.
If you are noticing your partner is stressed, here are three questions you might want to ask them....
How can I best support you through this?
What do you need most from me right now?
Do you want advice/help, or do you just need me to listen?
Say "I love you"
Something as simple as saying "I'm sorry you're having a hard time. I love you and I am here for you. What can I do to help?" can give your partner a little boost and also remind them that you are there for them and that you care. Sometimes that is all we need to feel okay.
Do something nice for them
Doing something thoughtful for your partner like bringing them a cup of coffee, running them a bath, asking them what they need, or even just doing some extra household chores can help lighten the load for them when you are noticing that they're stressed or overwhelmed.