Improving relationships

With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, it’s easy to become caught up with work demands and we can easily forget to spend time nurturing and working on our relationships. Research shows that social support helps to protect us against stressful life events and chronic relationship stress is linked to poorer mental and physical health, which negatively impacts our work. Building healthy and fulfilling relationships requires hard work and respectful communication. Below are five ways we can improve how we interact with loved ones:

1. Healthy habits
• Talk openly and listen to each other’s ideas about how changes can be managed together to navigate through life transitions.
• Holding onto anger can lead to resentment which is why forgiveness, feeling and expressing gratitude can have positive effects on the relationship.
• If we acknowledge the times we successfully coped with small stressors early on in the relationship, we gain appreciation and confidence in managing future problems.

2. Expressing emotion
• In times of conflict in a relationship, it’s hard to express emotions and easier to criticise or blame the other person.
• We can create an open dialogue and enhance connectedness by sharing our thoughts and emotions, and encouraging understanding and acceptance.

3. Using affection and humour
• To diffuse arguments and move forward, the use of playfulness, affection and positive humour instead of humour that includes criticism or put-downs promotes relationship satisfaction.

4. Improving communication
• There are many ways to solve problems within a relationship.
• Consider agreeing on a clear definition of the problem, brainstorm solutions with likely outcomes, agree on a solution and try it out, and make a plan to re-evaluate it at a later stage.

5. Promoting strengths
• Take time to acknowledge and communicate the positive aspects of the relationship and of your partner.
• Asking your partner about what he/she appreciates and doing those things more or thinking about what attracted you to your partner initially can encourage reconnection.

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