partner is stressed, the natural thing to do is find a way to help them. But according to experts, there's a right way to go about it and a wrong way. Knowing how to properly respond when your partner is dealing with stress can make all the difference between being a source of happiness and another source of stress.
First, it's important to remember that you should never take your partner's stress personally. As Sherianna Boyle, emotional wellness expert and
author, tells Bustle, "This easily happens when someone we love is stressed." If they're shutting down or being less affectionate than usual, the tendency is to wonder what you might've done wrong. But try not to see it that way. Chances are, their stress has nothing to do with you.
"Stress could mean that your
partner is feeling overwhelmed, but it can also be an indication that their body is looking to release some pent up emotions," Boyle says. "Avoid fixing or attempting to make your partner 'feel better.' The less we judge, criticize, or intervene, the more likely our partner will loosen up some of this emotional baggage."
So here's what you can do to
help your partner de-stress, according to experts.
Ask Them To Tell You What They Need From You
"If you want to help your partner de-stress it’s important to remember that they have different needs from you," international love coach,
Michelle Baxo, tells Bustle. "While you may want to get away for a weekend when you’re stressed, that might make your partner more anxious than ever." Just remember that your partner isn't you. You might need someone to smother you with love and affection, but they might need time alone. The only way to figure out what they really need during a stressful time is to ask. Let them know that you see them struggling, validate their feelings, and simply ask what they need. If they ask for space, be sure to give it to them.
Practice Active Listening When They Need To Vent
If your partner just needs to vent what they feel in order to release tension, give them the space to do so. That means, put all distractions away, and give them your undivided attention. "Your role now is to be there to listen to them," Celia Schweyer, dating and relationship expert at
DatingScout, tells Bustle. "Make them feel like they have a shoulder to cry on and be present. Most of the time, that's better than talking them out of stress." Unless they ask for advice, don't feel the need to give it. Sometimes people really do just need someone to validate their feelings and listen.
Find An Activity To Do Together
Think about the things your partner mentioned wanting to do in the past but had never gotten around to doing. Then see if there's anything on that list that you can do in that moment. "Even if it's outside of you and your partner's comfort zone, try out a new experience to change the mood,"
Tori Autumn, relationship coach and author, tells Bustle. It's all about getting their mind off their stress.
Autumn also suggests re-creating a fun memory together. You can even keep it simple, like cooking a recipe you created together, marathon-watching your favorite show, or taking a walk to a place that's special to just the two of you. "This could help your partner feel really connected to older memories that didn't require a ton of energy but can feel relaxing and peaceful," Autumn says.
Make Them Their Favorite Comfort Food
A creative and nurturing way to way to help your partner de-stress is to cook some comfort food. What's your partner's favorite meal? What instantly puts them in a good mood? As Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist and owner of
Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle, making a plate of your partner's favorite comfort dish can help to melt away their stress. "Our bodies crave carbs to ensure that we will have enough energy stored," Scott-Hudson says. "Eating carbohydrates stimulates the brain to release feel-good pleasure hormones to reduce tension quickly and give us feelings of readiness and preparedness to handle whatever stressors come our way."
Speak Their Love Language
Showing your partner love and affection during times of stress can help them feel a little more at ease. But since everyone gives and receives love differently, it's important to
know your partner's love language first. "If you've never taken that little quiz, now is a great time," Danielle Robin, conscious relationship coach, tells Bustle. "Find out which love language your partner most responds to, and go out of your way to speak it a little." For instance, if it's physical touch, you can offer to give them a massage or a hug. If it's words of affirmation, sending them voice notes or texts of encouragement can help them feel good.
Make Their Life Easier In Some Way
Chances are, the last thing your partner wants to do after a stressful day at work is to take care of a bunch of household chores. So if you're not busy, you may want to try taking over their share of responsibilities. For instance, you can take care of dinner or do the dishes. If they need to drop something off somewhere, maybe you can volunteer to do it for them instead. "Let them know that while you can’t take away the stress, you’re happy to help make things a little easier," Baxo says.
Be Happy And Content With Your Own Life
One of the best things you can do for your partner in times of stress is to keep doing you. "In sensitive times, it can be triggring for them to feel like the focus is all on them," Robin says. "Too much attention can be read with defensiveness, like they're doing something wrong." That last thing you want to do is add more stress to their life. But when you're happy and in a positive state of mind, you can continue to support your partner and they won't feel like they have to worry about you.
It's never fun to see your partner struggling. While it's not your job to fix their problems, you can be a bright spot in their day. If you do any of these things, you can help your partner relax and de-stress.