9 Ways To Help Your Partner Deal With Stress When They've Had A Bad Day, According To Experts
Wouldn't it be great if life were just one long, blissful expanse of time, free of worries and anxieties? Unfortunately, for one reason or another, we all experience stress from time to time — and when you're in a relationship, it's not just your own stress you have to cope with. Being a good partner means finding ways to help your partner deal with stress, too, because healthy relationships are all about mutual support.
"When we are in committed relationships, we tend to feed off one another's energy," Edie Stark, MSc, LCSW, a San Diego-based Psychotherapist, tells Bustle. "Learning what makes your partner tick and exploring ways to help ease [their stress] are... important part[s] of building a successful relationship. It is also important to note that while we can be supportive of our partners, it is not our job to take on their stresses and then fix them. We need to learn how to manage our own stressors and coping skills that help ourselves."
In a relationship, it's both unhealthy and unrealistic for one partner to expect the other to "fix" or get rid of their stress, which is why learning how to deal with stress on your own is so important. But even though it's never your responsibility to help your partner overcome their stress, you still can (and should!) be a pillar of support for your partner to lean on when times are tough. Here are nine simple ways to ease your partner's stress when they've had a rough day, according to experts.
1. Plan Something Relaxing For Them
According to Rebekah Montgomery, Ph.D., a Psychologist and Relationship Expert, planning a special, relaxing event — like a nice dinner, trip to the spa, weekend getaway, or just a quiet night in — for your partner when they're stressed is the perfect way to show them you care.
"This shows thoughtfulness and support and will help your partner get a break from all that's going on," Montgomery tells Bustle. "Self care in this way is invaluable when you're stressed!"
2. Let Them Vent
Sometimes, all someone needs in order to de-stress is a good venting session — so practice your active listening skills, and then the next time your partner is stressed, offer to lend an empathetic ear.
"Ask questions [and] talk it through; providing emotional and verbal support goes a long way, particularly when a situation isn't quickly fixable," Montgomery says.
3. Cook Their Favorite Meal
If you ask me, there's no problem that a good meal can't fix. When your partner has a stressful day, offering to either cook or order their favorite comfort food is a small gesture that doesn't take much effort on your part, but will nevertheless go a long way.
"Not only will you take cooking dinner (or whichever meal) off your partner’s to-do list, but also the gesture shows that you care and want [them] to feel better," Justin Lavelle, dating expert and Chief Communications Officer of online background check platform BeenVerified, tells Bustle. "Consider watching a movie while you eat to help distract your partner from his or her worries. A glass of wine may also help both of you relax."
4. Indulge In Their Hobbies
Another great way to relieve stress? Distracting ourselves by doing something that brings us joy. When you can sense that your partner is stressed, suggest that you both do an activity that they love to do — even if you're not necessarily into it yourself.
"Whatever your partner’s interests or hobbies are, spend some time doing something he or she finds pleasure in," Lavelle says. "You will, no doubt, speed up the road to recovery and make your partner’s day."
5. Go For A Walk Together
Helping your partner de-stress doesn't have to be a big production; in fact, it can be as simple as taking a romantic, relaxing stroll outside.
"Exercise is a natural stress reliever," Lavelle says. "In fact, studies have shown that going for a 10 minute walk a day can reduce many ailments: depression, anxiety, anger, etc. The release of endorphins will lower stress-producing hormones and boost self-esteem and happiness."
6. Give Them Some Space
Sometimes, the best thing you can do to help your partner feel less stressed is... absolutely nothing at all. According to Stark, giving your partner space when they get home from a hectic day and letting them unwind alone can work wonders.
"Sometimes someone who is very stressed feels more stressed about how they may be negatively impacting their loved one," Stark says. "Letting them know you love them, and understand they may need some time to reset can be very helpful."
7. Watch A Funny TV Show With Them
As if you needed another excuse to fire up the old Netflix account, according to Chelsea Hudson, LCPC, Licensed Therapist and Founder of Cityscape Counseling, watching your partner's fave funny TV show with them can actually help ease their stress.
"This will serve as a distraction technique to free their thinking temporarily from their stress-inducing situation," Hudson tells Bustle. "Laughing also releases endorphins which can help with stress reduction."
8. Offer To Give Them A Massage
There's nothing more relaxing than getting a soothing, intimate massage — and offering to massage your partner is an especially romantic gesture on days when their stress levels are higher than usual.
"Give them a massage with some essential oils whilst playing relaxing music," Hudson says. "This use of physical touch coupled with calming music is known as self-soothing, an act that signals to the brain that you are safe and commands the relaxation nervous system to be activated."
9. Do Their Share Of The Chores
When you're overwhelmed and stressed out, the last thing you want to do is think about all the chores you have to knock off your to-do list. At times when your partner is the one who's stressed, offering to help out with their chores or errands is a small act that will really show you care.
"Take over some household chores or volunteer to run errands for them until their stress subsides," Hudson says. "Reducing demands on your partner can lower their overall stress."
We all handle stress in our own unique way, and part of being a supportive partner is figuring out how your partner likes to deal with stress — and then helping them cope in whichever way works best for them. Even though you might wish it were possible to magically melt away your partner's stress, simply being there to support and listen to them during difficult times will be more than enough to show your love.