You’re a high powered professional enjoying the life you built, but you’re also hitting a snag. Your relationship is struggling, and you feel stuck and unclear on how to help your relationship succeed in the same way you are at work. If you love some quick tips, this blog post is definitely right for you. I am going to break down five ways to improve your relationship ASAP. By improving your relationship, I truly mean enhancing warmth, connection and overall feelings of love for one another. 1. Teammates firstYou and your partner are teammates above all else! Yes, there are other people in your world. You may have a work team to tend to, a large family, and a bunch of friends who love you. This is completely normal, and does not mean that your partnership cannot be a priority for you. By “priority,” I do not mean that your partner is your everything, or even that you need to spend the most time with them. What I mean is putting them first the moments that count. Remember their emotional and inner worlds are different than yours, and respond based on their needs. This is the glue that will help you excel in your relationship. 2. Remember to laughI know this one sounds simple, but it is easy to lose in the shuffle. Because you are a business person, you know what it is like to be on hyperspeed. You want to move fast and get the most out of life, so you forget that part of getting the most out of life is actually slowing down to enjoy the moments you’ve worked so hard for. This is so difficult- there a million things to do, both at work and at home. It is easy to slide into a pattern of focusing only on things you need to do instead of remembering why exactly you’re doing them in the first place! Try practicing mindfulness to be present, and enjoy those small silly moments with your partner. Check out this article on slowing down to find joy. 3. Say “thank you”This is easy to skip if you’ve been with your partner for a long time. The things they do start becoming exactly that- just things they do. So when your partner pays for dinner or opens the car door for you, you forget to say “thank you” because this becomes the norm for your relationship. While it is lovely to have these pleasant, small gestures become the norm, it also makes it much more difficult to remember to show appreciation and gratitude. Saying “thank you” can help your partner feel understood and exceptional and could even leave them space to want to go that extra mile for you. After all, who doesn’t love being appreciated for who they are? Check out this post on the importance of saying “thank you” in the workplace. 4. Turn towards rather than awayOk, so this one is from Drs. John and Julie Gottman. As we’ve mentioned in a handful of previous posts, the Gottmans are couples therapists and researchers who are exceptional in what they’ve found throughout their years of experience. Turning towards your partner essentially means that you are responding to the subtle bids for connection that they make. This could be verbal (“check out that sunset!”) to physical (reaching out to touch their hand) to an act of service (making coffee). Responding is turning towards your partner, and silence or rejection (“I’m reading right now”) are turning away. This can be very hard, especially when there is a ton to do and you feel like you’re buzzing through life! Acknowledging the small moments may even feel like another thing you have to worry about. Instead, take some baby steps- start by noticing when you are bidding for connection, and what it is like for you both when your partner is able to respond and when they are not. Once you master this, it’ll be a little easier to know what your partner is looking for when they are making their own bids! 5. Have buy-inInvest in your relationship! Your relationship is so important to you-- after all, that is why you’re reading this post! Give energy to those small moments. The goal here is to optimize the time you are able to spend together, rather than increasing the quantity of time together. The first four tips on this post explore ways to optimize and enrich your quality of time with your partner. For example, let’s focus on that moment in the morning when your partner is making coffee and you are beginning your dive into work emails. Picture this: You take a second to acknowledge your partner, and you say “babe, this coffee is amazing.” You both giggle because you’re using a Keurig, you are saying “thank you,” you are responding to a bid, and you’re making the moment of the small moment. Way to optimize! Why wait?! Get to it! Show your partner how important they are by using your small moments and making them the best they can be. Make your moments high quality by remembering to laugh, saying “thank you,” turning towards, and investing. Maybe start by sending over a quick text saying that you’re thinking of them. Who doesn’t love a small reminder of their importance? Mollie Eliasof, LCSW
As social workers (and therapists), we have always made social justice and the emotional well being of both our clients and those around us our priority. We also are trained to roll up our sleeves and get to action in every way that we are called to. Over the last few weeks, that dedication has been focused on supporting our clients to manage their lives and emotions due to the impact of the continuous horrific injustices and murders towards the Black Community. We have also committed to actions of advocacy, donation, and supporting Black business, within our practice as well as our personal lives. We want to share with you some incredible resources, but before that, we want to be clear about where we stand.
The springtime often signals us to find a general sense of refresh and routine in daily habits -- hello, spring cleaning! But how many times have you promised yourself you’re going to get to exercising, to commit to reading one book a month, or to have that tough conversation you’ve been avoiding? You know what I’m talking about. The cyclic nature of trying to keep that new promise to yourself no matter what can be detrimental to self esteem and perceived self competence, especially when you have a tough time making it stick. So, how can you nip it in the bud and make this promise a sustainable change? And further, how can you and your partner be conscious about the changes you want to make-- and commit to them together?
Ah, take a deep breath. You’ve finally completed the most daunting part of the task: having the actual talk. You’ve expressed your needs in the best way you know how, and can give yourself a pat on the back for acknowledging your fears and moving past them. By now, I hope you’ve seen our previous two posts in this series. The first was to help you organize your thoughts and feelings, and the second was geared to help you both get your point across and be open to your partner’s feedback. Now what?
The coronavirus has presented humankind with an immense number of difficulties, which can include anything from “what am I going to eat for lunch when the grocery store just feels too overwhelming” to “how am I going to continue planning my wedding when I don’t even know if we’ll be able to plan it,” all the way to “I am so concerned about my loved one’s health, and I can’t even see them.” Complications that are arising are big and small, and exist both in the near future and in the future down the line. So, with all this confusion and uncertainty, how are you supposed to stay present and hold onto fleeting moments of joy? Why would you even want to do this? What does “staying present” mean?Staying present is the ability to maintain awareness and a sense of connection with the moment you are currently in. This means you are focused and engaged, and not being held up by your thoughts about the next 47 things you have to do. Not organizing your grocery list, not scheduling out what you need to get done at work tomorrow, and not thinking about all the things that annoy you about your partner. Just wholly, fully, in the moment. Another word for this is “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is essentially the connection to your senses and your body. Being aware of your senses allows your brain to shift from anxious and racing thought patterns into a calmer and more grounded state. Why would I want to do this? This will not fix any of my problems.Ah, excellent question. Let’s start with some fun facts. First of all, practicing mindfulness has been shown to decrease feelings of stress and improve overall sleep quality (check out the article here). It increases overall levels of life contentment and satisfaction, as well as work productivity. How does this happen? The goal of mindfulness is not actually to solve your problems. The goal is to help ground you in the moment so you can find the ability to step out of these thoughts that only stress you out. It may feel temporarily good to ruminate on an issue, but does how often does your rumination actually solve your problem? Unless you are setting aside time to plan and execute, you are likely just thinking about stressful things. This increases an emission of stress stress hormones, which makes it much more difficult to think clearly and execute decisions and actions efficiently (take a look at this article, aptly titled The Busier You Are, the More You Need Mindfulness). This is why taking that quick few minutes to be present and clear your head-- not completely, but just clear from stressors and ineffective rumination-- actually winds up increasing satisfaction as well as productivity. In fact, there is even evidence to suggest that mindfulness can increase life span and overall physical health. Ok, this sounds slightly more appealing. So how do I do it?Below are a couple of suggestions and techniques designed to help the busiest of people and professionals take in the moment in a digestible way. Set reminders on your phone, or schedule in “mindful time” to create the habit of stepping out of your thoughts and into the moment. 1) Notice your senses: Start with looking around the space you are in and naming 5 things you see. Describe each thing wholly; what color is it? What is its texture? Next, name 4 things you feel physically on your body. Do you have a tag that is itchy? Are your pants too loose? Are your feet too sweaty? After this, name 3 things you hear. Listen closely. Do you hear the heater? Or maybe birds chirping outside? If you can, then try for 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste. These are sometimes difficult, but remember the goal is not success or failure. It is only to be present and aware. 2) Narrate your actions: This one might feel silly at first, but it is a great way to connect your mind to your body. If you are cooking, walking, or really doing anything that does not require serious thinking/brain power, you can narrate it! For example, if you are cooking your eggs in the morning, state “I am opening the fridge, I am opening the egg carton, I am taking out two eggs,” etc. 3) Make lists:Possibly counterintuitive, but actually very helpful. Make two lists, and separate them by what you can versus what you cannot control. Take a look at the “what you can control” list, and prioritize. Once you’ve figured out what you want to tackle first, schedule in a finite amount of time and get started. Partializing and breaking down goals and tasks will make it much less likely that you’ll have a lapse in focus, pick up your phone, and fall down a rabbit hole. 4) Notice your breath:Notice as air comes into your nose, and out of your mouth. What does it feel like? Do you feel your diaphragm expanding and contracting? Is your breathing shallow and quick or deep and slow? 5) Mindful eating:Find a snack you absolutely adore, and take a few moments with it. Notice the color, the texture, the temperature, and what it feels like when it melts in your mouth. Slow down the process of eating to stay in the moment. Practice makes progressDon’t be too hard on yourself if you’re having a difficult time staying present, or if your mind is having a difficult time breaking the addiction to stress. After all, the drive to focus on stress and anxiety is a survival skill. Be patient with yourself and keep trying. The more effort you put in, the more the benefits explored earlier will begin to pop up in your life! Alyssa Ashenfarb, LCSW
Something about the spring (or maybe the pandemic?) seems to give people the push they need to get their relationships in order. About a month ago, I began hearing a theme in my sessions both with couples and individuals: How can I talk with my partner about the things that scare me the most? How can I get them to see and hear me?
Let's explore the theoretical “talk.” You’re starting to brainstorm what that conversation you’ve been thinking about having for months will actually look like. All of a sudden, your stomach turns, your throat becomes tight, and your breathing quickens. Ah yes, you know that these physical responses are your body’s way of showing you that you’re anxious. The familiar feeling washes over, and now you’re feeling a ton of pressure.
You may have noticed that, during the quarantine, you’ve felt a little…regressive. Everything your partner is doing is making you irritable or weepy, you’re either extra tired or extra energized, or you’re acting slightly sillier than usual. Don’t worry-- you’re not losing it. For lots of us (read: most of us), times of chaos and confusion can elicit childlike responses that helped us cope during our younger years. Afterall, think of the last time your physical and emotional safety existed entirely in the hands of someone or something outside of yourself? You got it- childhood.
Disclaimer: These posts are just general information, and are not to be considered clinical advice, not a substitute for therapy. No therapist-patient relationship is created by these posts. Please consult a physician or therapist to determine if such information is right for you.