Today, May 18, 2011, the American Psychological Association has dedicated the day to blogging about mental health. Obviously, we blog about mental health every day around here on PsychCentral, but in honor of today’s celebration, here’s a list of 10 ways you can enhance your relationship through good mental health strategies:
- Laugh together. Did you know that the older we get, the less we tickle each other? We play less, too. Laughter is contagious, and typically done with others, which helps to reduce loneliness and isolation. In addition, laughter has many health benefits. In other parts of the world, they practice laughter yoga and have laughter clubs. There are even laughter clubs online. (Watching a funny movie is a good alternative.)
- Do good for others together. The Corporation for National & Community Service recently released a report about the health benefits of volunteering, including “lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life.” Some of the intangibles of volunteering are that you and your partner spend time together, give back to your community, and have something to talk about afterwards.
- Eat well. Yes, this one has physical benefits too, but when you are fueling your body properly, you can’t help but feel better mentally as well. Consider a few sessions with a registered dietitian if this is an area you want some assistance with. Some insurance plans cover a limited number of sessions with dietitians.
- Find ways to relieve stress, such as through exercise or engaging in a hobby. Our Stress Library has dozens of articles that provide guidance on how to reduce stress in your life.
- Have sex. WebMD has a list of “10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex.” Among them: better heart health, improved sleep, and pain relief. Oh, and improved intimacy…which is important in relationships!
- Practice forgiveness. The Mayo Clinic explains why forgiving others is beneficial, including lower blood pressure and fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. When you forgive someone, it is not because you are condoning what happened. Nor are you forgiving them for their sake; you are doing it for yourself. This blog post will give you even further incentive to forgive the past and look towards a happy future with your partner.
- Look towards the future together as a couple. Time flies when you are wrapped up in work, family, and activities. Stopping to have a meaningful discussion with your partner on a regular basis about your goals–both individually and as a couple–reminds you of what is important, and what needs to be planned for in the future.
- Highlight the positives in your partner. Our Healing Together for Couples blog has a great post on why couples need to be deliberate about complimenting each other. Too often, we assume our partner knows how much we love, admire, and care about them, but actually hearing it on a regular basis, and being the recipient of acts of love, can make all the difference.
- See a therapist. This can be an individual therapist or a couples counselor. Talking out your hopes, fears, worries, anxieties, stresses, and more with a therapist can strengthen your relationship at home. If you’re still on the fence, try the Do I Need Therapy? quiz.
- Step away from the computer (and the phone, and the television, and the video games, etc.) This article in the NY Times highlights the digital divide that technology can create between partners. With few exceptions, all of the above nine suggestions work best when done face-to-face with your partner. Try unplugging for a few hours over a weekend, and see what a difference it can make.
If you’re interested in reading all the other posts on Psych Central in honor of today’s celebration, here’s the roundup!