It’s during times of crisis that even our healthiest relationships suffer.
Not on purpose, of course, but sometimes the events surrounding times of crisis create an environment where we become:
Fearful of the unknown
Truly disconnected from others
This isolation goes against every fiber of our beings. Our greatest voluntary needs (besides food and water) are connection and love. That’s why isolation can wreak havoc in all areas of life.
So, it’s crucial to take care of your relationships and cultivate connection – let’s dive into how to do just that.
Unleashing the Power of Connection in Healthy Relationships
Humans are a socially wired species. We’re built for connection.
Equally important as the need for food, water, and shelter – building connection is essential for feeling love and belonging. This could mean fulfilling the need to:
Create interpersonal relationships
Connect with others
Find your tribe
And when you fulfill your need for healthy relationships and connection, you’ll improve your overall well-being and live a more fulfilled life. In fact, according to the World Happiness Report, in 2021 people that experienced more connection during the pandemic also experienced:¹
Greater satisfaction in life
Better mental health
While this might surprise you, it actually makes perfect sense. Having the support of people who care about you and want to see you happy makes it easier for you to maintain a state of mental well-being.²
Besides, Being Without Healthy Relationships is Really Lonely
When we’re stuck in times of crisis, we may be forced to isolate ourselves from others. And without that human connection and support, things get weird.
Because we’re a primal species, we rely on human connection to survive. In fact, when we’re isolated from others – or have a lack of healthy relationships – our bodies set off the same primal triggers as when we are:
In physical pain
Simply put, we don’t do well when we’re disconnected.
The triggers we feel when we’re lonely have become so serious to our health that it’s become a modern epidemic.³ And if we stay on this path, we’ll only continue down a road that ultimately leads to loneliness, despair, and depression.
By now, you might be thinking that cultivating healthy relationships is only difficult for single people. Better think again. Parents and couples, though together, are faced with some unique challenges during times of crisis, disconnection, and isolation.
Parents Feeling Trapped During Times of Disconnection
Parents may find themselves going through something unique. They love their spouse and their children – but they find themselves stuck in a cycle of feeling guilty and trapped.
It’s okay moms and dads. It can be confusing to feel these emotions when you’re where you want to be: at home with those you love and care for. What could be better than that, right?
But then, your work from home haven starts to annoy you. You notice your anxieties around current world events increase. You can see how close your spouse is to you physically and yet they seem so far away.
Your children seem to need your attention all the time. It’s hard to just keep up with simple chores around the house. If someone offered you the key to a different life, you’d probably take it.
This is what it’s like for parents during times of disconnection. It’s a complex cycle, having parents feeling far away from those they love and then feeling guilty for feeling that way.
This is why having the right tools for healthy relationships is so essential.
5 Mindset Tools for Reconnection and Healthier Relationships
To help you get on your way, here are 5 mindset tools that I personally recommend to my clients for healthier relationships. Read through these tips and pick one or two to try this week – because they really work.
1. Name your thoughts and feelings
When you’re feeling strong emotions like anger, sadness, or anxiety, wouldn’t it be nice to have a “calm down button” that would provide immediate relief?
When you start naming your thoughts, feelings, and emotions out loud – you’re pushing that magic button. Here’s how this works.
Naming our emotions gives them recognition. It’s like telling our emotions that we “see them” for what they really are. Because strong emotions are our “protectors.”
So when you’re feeling extreme emotions like anger, sadness, or anxiety and you’re not sure why → this is your brain trying to protect you from something painful.
That’s why it’s important to name your thoughts, feelings, and emotions out loud. If it’s just a protector coming out to play, then you’ll start to calm down after you give it the recognition it deserves.
Now I’ll ask you: What feelings and emotions come up when you think of your partner or spouse? Are they helpful? Or are they harmful? Say out loud your feelings and emotions about your partner to help give your emotions recognition and calm down any active protectors.
2. Create a new story
To change your life, you need to rewrite the narrative.
The personal stories we tell ourselves are powerful. They have the power to change your life or ultimately destroy it. What story have you been telling yourself?
Are you telling yourself stories that help create your identity, aspirations, and experiences so you can achieve what you want in life? Or are you telling yourself stories that do the exact opposite?
If you let the story you tell yourself be influenced by negative external factors, like other people’s opinions, you’ll find yourself boxed in and unable to move forward in life. You’ll become plagued by behaviors that don’t serve you.
Here are some examples of stories you need stop telling yourself:
“I’m not smart enough”
“I’m not good enough and never will be”
“I’m not qualified”
If you find yourself telling yourself these stories, you need to sit down and rewrite your story. Because if you don’t, the negative stories you tell yourself will become true and unavoidable.
So take a minute and ask yourself: What story am I telling myself? Can I rewrite it to make it more productive or useful?
It’s our responsibility to make ourselves happy. And you can do that with self-care. Self-care is not a luxury but a necessity that you should make a priority in your life.
Of course, there are many forms that self-care can take. It’s important to check-in with yourself to see where you should focus your self-care.
Physical Self-Care. There’s a strong connection between your body and mind. That’s why you need to take care of your body. Throughout the years, you have likely abused it, I know I have.
Here are some questions to see if your physical self-care needs improvement:
Have you been sleeping well?
Do you exercise often?
Is your diet fueling your body?
Social Self-Care. As you know by now, connection is key to healthy relationships. And it’s super important for your mental health and well-being.
Here are some questions to see if your social self-care needs some tender loving care:
Are you getting enough face-to-face time with loved ones?
How are you nurturing your relationships with close friends?
Mental Self-Care. Mental self-care includes doing things that fuel your mind. This can include reading books, learning something new, or watching a movie. Another example of mental self-care that we’ve already briefly touched on is practicing self-compassion to have a healthier inner dialogue (the story you tell yourself).
Here are some questions to see if your mental self-care needs some improvement:
Are you setting aside time to fuel your mind with activities you enjoy?
What things are you doing to help stay mentally healthy?