How Self-Care Can Make Your Relationship Stronger, According To Experts
Whether you’re going to the gym, or simply riding bikes through a park, you might not think you’re improving your relationship by partaking in a little self-care with your partner. But according to Vogue, anything along these lines, when done together, can certainly boost your connection. And if you’ve ever witnessed long-standing celebrity couples showing off their routines on social media, as Vogue pointed out, it certainly does seem to be the case.
All it takes is a quick glimpse online to spot folks like Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel practicing yoga together, or Ciara and her husband Russell Wilson tossing a football around, or Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas riding bikes. And according to Vogue, the list goes on and on. So what is it about sharing a self-care routine, and why might it bring you together?
Well, the good news is, pretty much any type of self-care can have a positive impact on a relationship, simply because it has a positive impact on your life. "Taking care of yourself is essential to your relationship health because it shows that you can show up for yourself as you can for your partner and allows you to hopefully be more present with your partner," Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, a licensed clinical psychologist at Therapy Group of NYC, tells Bustle.
This routine might include exercise-y types things like the ones mentioned above, but can really be comprised of anything that makes you feel good. "Self-care is the practice of making sure your physical, mental, and emotional needs are met on a regular basis," Lily Ewing, MA, LMHCA, a Seattle-based therapist, tells Bustle. "It can include things from bubble baths and hobby time to healthy cooking and exercise to making time for journaling, self-expression, and regularly seeing a therapist. A good self-care practice is tailored to fit your own specific needs, and not everyone’s self-care habits will look alike."
Typically, self-care is something that’s all for you, and thus something you do alone. But when you add your partner in, it can have those same positive benefits on your relationship. As Ewing says, "Including your partner in some of your self-care routines is a great way to deepen the friendship you have with each other within your relationship."
So what are some good options? "My partner and I like to do yoga together," Katie Ziskind, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "By taking yoga, we both end up less stressed, less frustrated by work, and are more open to laugh together after the class and be present."
It can also be helpful to step outside, and away from your busy routines. "Getting out in nature, going for a bike ride […] or exercising are things you can do together as long as it isn’t competitive," Lesli Doares, a couples consultant and coach, tells Bustle. "Sharing an activity that gets you both moving reduces stress hormones and increases endorphins. Doing it together links the positive effects with each other which increases bonding."
But it doesn’t even have to be that involved, in order to have an impact. "Maybe at the end of the workday you and your partner have a routine of taking a 20-minute walk around the block and chatting about your day, which is a way of caring for yourselves and your relationship," Lopez Witmer says. It also be as mundane as doing laundry together, she says, or as exciting as having sex. Whatever works for your relationship, and helps you feel closer, can be considered self-care.
Self-care is something you can and should do alone, especially since having space in a relationship is a good thing. But there are also many benefits to be had by creating a few habits with your partner, too, like the ones listed above.
"If you can engage in self-care together, it can give your relationship the kind of quality time and emotional engagement that comes from both of you at your happiest and healthiest," Ewing says. "When you show up this way in your relationship, it can have a major impact on the current state of your relationship and can deepen your connection and bring you closer together."
It’s all bout spending time focusing on your life as a couple, and figuring out what you like to do, in order to take good care of yourselves — and ultimately your relationship.
Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, licensed clinical psychologist at Therapy Group of NYC
Katie Ziskind, licensed marriage and family therapist
Lily Ewing, MA, LMHCA, Seattle-based therapist
Lesli Doares, couples consultant and coach
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