There’s no way around it, good therapy is hard work!
The hard work is magnified when you choose to bring your relationship to a therapist for help. Couples’ therapy requires both partners to simultaneously tolerate their own distress while hearing and responding empathetically to their partner’s distress.
This is why creating a safe space within the therapy room as well as within your relationship is an essential first step.
Everyone chooses their partner based on hopes of healing at deep levels and creating a bright future. And every relationship comes to a developmental crisis where the thing that you need most from your partner is the hardest thing for your partner to offer you. This is where the healing of therapy can assist you in the developmental work of healing old wounds together and safely while deepening your lasting, committed bond.
To increase your personal ability to handle distress and provide yourself with a good “buffer zone” that allows you tolerate discomfort while actively engaging in the growth process with your partner, we recommend increasing healthy, pleasurable activities on a daily basis.
This ability to find and use pleasurable activities is a small, yet essential, aspect of our structured stress management program that helps you do better work in couples’ therapy.
Here’s the list of things to try. Pick one or two and do them regularly to see if your general sense of well-being improves.
- Talk to a friend on the phone
- Go out and visit a friend
- Invite a friend over
- Organize a party
- Lift weights
- Do yoga, tai chi, or pilates
- Take a belly dance class
- Stretch your muscles
- Go for a long walk in a peaceful place that you enjoy
- Go outside and listen to the birds
- Go for a run
- Ride a bike
- Go hiking
- Go to your local playground and watch people playing
- Go play a game by yourself – shoot hoops, bowl, play handball, miniature golf, billiards or hit a tennis ball against a wall
- Get a massage
- Go to a spa and relax in the steam rooms, sauna and other available rooms
- Go outside to get out of your house
- Go for a drive or take a ride on public transportation
- Plan a trip to a new location
- Take a nap
- Have a snack you enjoy
- Cook your favorite dish or meal
- Try a new recipe
- Bake something for someone else
- Take a cooking class
- Go outside and play with your pet
- Borrow a friend’s dog and take it for a walk
- Watch a funny movie on Netflix
- Go to the movie theater and watch whatever’s playing
- Watch television
- Listen to a podcast (you can search virtually any topic you enjoy or are curious about in iTunes)
- Listen to the radio
- Play a game with a friend
- Go online to chat
- Visit your favorite websites
- Create your own blog
- Put a puzzle together
- Go shopping
- Get a manicure
- Go to the library and read
- Go to a bookstore and read
- Go to your favorite cafe for coffee or tea
- Visit a museum or local art gallery
- Go to the mall or the park and watch other people
- Pray or meditate
- Go to your church, synagogue, temple or other place of worship
- Join a group
- Call a family member you haven’t spoken to in a long time
- Learn a new language
- Sing or learn how to sing
- Play a musical instrument or learn how to play one
- Write a song
- Listen to some upbeat, happy music
- Turn on some loud music and dance
- Make a movie with your phone
- Take pictures
- Organize your pictures into an album or scrapbook
- Go to Michaels.com and find a craft project to enjoy
- Participate in a local theater group
- Join Toastmasters and improve your communication and leadership skills
- Sing in a local choir
- Join a club
- Plant a garden
- Work outside
- Paint your nails
- Take a bubble bath or shower
- Sign up for a class that excites you at a local college, adult school or online
- Read your favorite book, magazine, blog or poem
- Read a trashy celebrity magazine
- Write a letter to a friend or family member
- Write in your journal or diary about what happened to you today
- Write in your journal about the things that make you feel good or what you are learning that is helpful so you can go back to it when things are tough
- Write your Bucket List
Reading through this list should have given you some ideas of how you can incorporate pleasurable activities more effectively into your life if you aren’t doing so already.
Take a quick inventory every day; are you feeling more stress than you would like or can handle? If you are, this will affect who you are in relationship.
Start today with some small action toward a more relaxed self and you are on your way to healing yourself and healing your relationship.
Have questions or ready to get started? Call us: 626-657-0061
© Tamara R. Bess, LMFT 2018. All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.