As you are spending so much time in your house with your partner, are you finding yourself becoming irritable? Snippy? Impatient? When our stress hormones run amok and our happy/bonding hormones are reduced, the first sign of this imbalance is irritability. Nothing grinds the warmth out of a romantic relationship quite like irritability. We do well during this time of sheltering at home to have boundaries around the avenues for the stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) to enter in AND we should commit to daily practices that help release the happy, bonding hormones into our body (oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins) as well.
To increase the happy, bonding hormones, I have three suggestions:
- Cuddle: Certainly, this may mean cuddling with your partner, and it could also mean sex with your partner—both release oxytocin. But it means much more than that: cuddling with your dog, stroking your cat, or huddling up with the kids to watch a movie! It means giving and receiving hugs and backrubs from whoever is in your house. It means pretzeling your legs while you watch Netflix or playing with your partner’s hair or letting your kids “style” yours. All of these activities help the bonding hormones emerge out of the stress.
- Be Silly: Have a daily dance party, watch Late Night TV or Car Karaoke. Have a daily loud time, especially if you have been shushing kids all day so that you can work. Read funny things to each other and watch the mood shift. Dopamine will enter the system and smooth the rough edges that had you so wound up against your partner a few minutes ago.
- Connect: While it may seem like endless time together would mean you don’t need to intentionally connect, I beg to differ. Connecting on an emotional level requires intention for most of us. Start with an emotion: “I’m feeling ______ (frustrated, sad, scared, tender….etc)” and then take 1-2 minutes to fill that out. Then have your partner do the same.
If you practice these things daily you will be doing the good work of balancing the hormones in your body and making you less irritable and FAR more tolerable to live with! Your hormones may get so out of balance that you have no desire to do any of things things, but if you are intentional and commit to them, the hormones WILL follow and your relationship will be much better of for having done it.
If you want to know more about dealing with anxiety during this time of crisis, try my online course: https://janicemcwilliams.thinkific.com/courses/anxiety-toolbox-for-the-covid-19-crisis