When we think about self-care, we don’t often associate it with our relationships. Self-care is about us—about tending to our own emotional health and personal needs, right?
Well, yes. But self-care can do much more than that. Taking care of yourself doesn’t just make you feel good but it also can lead to better relationships with others.
A happy and successful relationship begins with self-care, even if you might not have thought about the connection between the two before. But how and why? Let’s look at four big reasons.
1. Self-care creates a space for you
It’s so important in any relationship to have space for yourself. All too often, especially when we’ve been in a relationship for a long time, we can lose our sense of self and forget what makes us individuals.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is bad or unhealthy—sometimes, we just slip into these habits. We end up doing everything together; we have couple activities and couple goals and couple accomplishments.
And while it is amazing to be able to share your life with a person you love, it’s important that you still take some time for yourself and don’t lose your identity. If you’re constantly doing everything together, chances are that you’re probably compromising on some of the things you want.
Taking a step back and practising giving yourself some love and care creates a space for you—for your wants and needs. So, if you love reading, carve some time out in your evening to get comfy on the sofa with a good book while your other half watches the TV. If there’s a hobby that you adore like gardening or yoga but you’ve let it slide recently because you’ve both been caught up with social commitments, bring it back into your life. And don’t forget to make time for your friends and family—not just your “couple” friends!
2. Self-care = a happy you = a happy relationship
Learning to love yourself is so important for your own personal happiness.
We’re generally not taught by society to love ourselves. We learn from a very early age to look at ourselves harshly: magnifying our flaws, comparing ourselves to others, and slipping into negative self-talk all too easily. We’re our own worst critics.
Self-care can help you to learn to love yourself: it teaches you to treat yourself well, to nourish your body and mind with kindness and love. Part of this includes tending to your physical needs, like eating well, adding regular exercise into your routine, and getting enough sleep so that you feel rested and rejuvenated.
It also means tending to your emotional and mental health: doing things that bring you joy, spending time with people you love, and learning to be emotionally aware so that you can be kind to yourself when you need it.
When you learn to love yourself through practising self-care, it makes you a happier version of yourself. And when you’re a happy you, you’re going to enjoy a happier relationship.
3. Taking care of yourself makes you a better partner
As I said above, practising self-care helps to boost your general mood and support your mental health, making you feel happier and more balanced.
By looking after yourself and ensuring that you’re in a good headspace, you are giving yourself the emotional capacity and availability to provide support for your other half too.
If we’re feeling low, stressed or tense for whatever reason, it’s unlikely that we’re going to be able to support to a partner who is feeling the same—and that’s if we even notice. Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in our own problems that we miss what’s going on right in front of us.
When we’re struggling emotionally, we’ll probably snap and lash out instead, not having the emotional capacity, empathy or patience to be able to deal with another person’s problems. This can result in feeling distant from each other, arguing, and disconnection.
Self-care helps you to feel happier, rested and less stressed, which means you’re in a better position to provide emotional support to your partner if they need it. This is so important in a relationship: you need to be able to support each other equally. If one of you is doing most of the emotional heavy-lifting, then that’s going to take its toll on your relationship and your wellbeing.
4. Self-care stops resentment—on both sides
Giving up self-care when you’re in a relationship doesn’t make you a martyr or a better partner to your other half. If anything, it makes you more difficult to live with and be in a relationship with.
This may sound counter-intuitive—after all, we can sometimes associate self-care with selfishness—but it actually makes a lot of sense. Your significant other wants you to be happy, fun and fulfilled in your relationship.
Not taking care of your emotional and physical needs properly means that you’re probably not as happy as you could be. In fact, it will probably result in you being distracted, moody, irritable or stressed—which can be frustrating and upsetting to your partner.
Similarly, if you’re constantly doing things for other people (like your significant other) and never doing anything for yourself, there’s probably going to be some resentment building up. You might not realise it to start with, but you could easily end up feeling resentful and underappreciated by your partner.
Practising self-care and giving yourself enough love and attention will make you feel happier and more fulfilled—and these positive emotions will feed into your relationship.
Start with small steps today
A happy relationship begins with self-care, even if you might not have connected the two before. Looking after yourself and your personal needs will help you to be a better partner: giving you the emotional capacity to be there for your other half, and strengthening your relationship.
Don’t let it fall by the wayside; start taking small steps to add more self-care into your life and you’ll see the positive impact this will have on your relationship too.
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