This posting, which concerns a recent study out of UC Berkeley on the relationship between sleep and relationship conflict, notes the importance of cultivating good habits in self-care. It’s one of the most critical tools in maintaining healthy relationships. Here are a few of Dr. John Gottman’s tips for goal-setting and stress management. The following will help you as you work to find balance and create a healthier lifestyle, both for yourself and for your relationship.
Tips for goal setting
- Make your goals specific and measurable. Rather than telling your partner that you would like to talk more, suggest a concrete activity that you can do together whether it’s going for a walk after dinner every time or playing board games every Sunday afternoon.
- Think about the pros and cons of making healthy changes. If we stick with the examples above, you could imagine that a pro would be the ability to feel closer to each other and relax, and a con could be the planning around any care-taking responsibilities.
- Break big goals into little ones. If you want to get in shape, don’t overdo it. This will only add to your stress. You don’t want to strain yourself or cause an injury. Go slow. Start with smaller increments.
- Ask for support. If you want to take care of yourself, remember the people closest to you—the ones you can count on. Call them or set up a video chat if you want a boost of encouragement.
- Anticipate obstacles and have a backup plan. If you realize that your new self-care plan might be as fleeting as a New Year’s Resolution, don’t feel defeated. You are in control. Imagine the difficulties you may face in accomplishing your goal. For example, if going on a run every morning is going to be unrealistic, try to come up with a solution that you feel confident will work. Perhaps start every Saturday morning and work your way up.
- Make a daily plan and track your progress. Ask yourself the following questions frequently: What are my intentions today? (“I’ll go on a run tonight” or “No more TV for a little while”)
- Reward yourself for short-term and long-term successes. Set up a way to congratulate yourself when you achieve your big and small goals.
Goal setting as a couple
You can set those goals together and enjoy stress-free activities as a couple. Here are a few more ideas for relaxing together. You likely know what you and your partner enjoy most so try some of these or make up your own. You may learn more about each other in the process, strengthening your bond.
- Watch your favorite show together.
- Go on a jaunt through the neighborhood.
- Explore a beautiful park and watch a sunset.
- Find a take-out ice-cream stand or food truck where you can enjoy something delicious out in the open air.
These are ideas that can keep you and your relationship from being overwhelmed in daily life.