- Count backwards: Slowly, while lying in bed, count backwards from 100. Take your time – if you forget or hesitate about what number you’re on, start over from 100. Don’t allow yourself to get frustrated. Doing a monotonous activity like this can have the effect of making you sleepy.
- Analyze your sleep cycle: Record your sleep data, perhaps by tracking it in a journal or using an app on an electronic device. Once you identify your sleeping pattern, you can potentially identify problems and find ways to mediate them.
- Guided visualization: Relax your body from head to toe, and imagine yourself in a calming location (e.g. a beach). Go through each of the senses that you would imagine in that place: the smell, the sights, the sounds.
- Find ways to reduce anxiety: Subconscious anxiety or stress can impede on sleep. Check out your EFAP resources for ideas (enter “dalhousie” in the search bar) on how to reduce stress, such as mindfulness exercises, yoga or medication.
- Alternate nostril breathing: Using your finger to press on each of your nostrils while slowly breathing out of the adjacent open nostril can relax your nervous system.
- Improve your diet or exercise routine: Exercise can release endorphins that balance stress and releasing that energy throughout the day can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Eating a healthier diet, and changing up when you eat (e.g. not eating right before sleep) can also mediate uneasiness or insomnia.
- Take a deep breath. Stress causes our breathing to become shallow and allows for less oxygen to be pumped into the body, which can reduce energy levels and mental clarity. Close your eyes and focus on the rhythm of your breathing. Breathe in for 3 counts (1-2-3) and hold the breath before slowly exhaling for 3 counts 1-2-3). Pause and count to 3 before inhaling again, and repeat. You should feel your abdomen expanding when you inhale, and emptying when you exhale.
- Leave the tension behind. Sometimes, muscle tension can be difficult to consciously notice, but it is one of our bodies’ most common responses to stress. Choose a comfortable position, and gently close your eyes and slowly tense the mucsles of the face. Hold for a few seconds before slowly and gently relaxing the mucsles, letting go of the tension. Continue this with other muscle groups, and work your way down to your feet.
- Meditate. Achieving peace of mind can be accomplished by the popular method of meditation. Choose a quiet spot, sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Relax your muscles from head to feet and become aware of the tension as you breathe in and let it go as out breathe out. Continue for 5-15 minutes.
The arrival of a new baby, especially a first child, is an extremely significant event in a couple’s life that brings much joy, but also new responsibilities and challenges for parents. Dividing household tasks may help the transition into parenthood and ensuring that household duties are still taken care of in a way that is fair. Secondly, couples often have less time to be intimate, and lack of sleep and fatigue are contributors, so communicating with your partner about this is crucial. Finding time to connect with your partner may be more difficult with less time on your hands, but try to find pockets of time during the course of the days and evenings where this is possible – such as when the baby is sleeping.
As always, develop a plan that works for you – there is no one “right” way to rekindle the spark after the birth of a baby, and each couple needs to be in tune with their own feelings as well as their partner’s feelings in order to find a plan that works.
Here are some tips for working through any form of relationship problem:
- Talk it out: Turn your phones off and have a discussion with your partner, without raising your voice. Focus on ways to improve your relationship for the future instead of dwelling on the past.
- Stop the blame game: Try not to blame each other for contributing to the problem, and instead, be open to each other’s feelings and concerns. Take joint responsibility and work together.
- Take it step by step: Fixing problems in relationships takes hard work. Instead of trying to solve it all in one evening, try to tackle one concern or area of a conflict at a time, and celebrate your accomplishments along the way.
- Accept the bad and acknowledge the good: Find the best in your partner, and accept them for who they are. Look for the “upside” in things that they do that may annoy you.
- Continue the courtship: Do the things that you used to do when you first started dating, like complimenting each other, showing interest in each other’s day, giving gifts for no reason at all and making special effort to say thank you. Try to have some time each week to do something together. These simple actions show how much you value your relationship.
- Call in the professionals: Sometimes, seeking professional help when the problems get too tough is necessary. Getting help from a neutral person can help you work your way through issues.
- Poor communication: Expressing your true thoughts to your partner, without insulting them or feeling belittled, is a must.
- Jealousy and mistrust: Maintaining friendships with others is an important part of a relationship, and arguments about spending time with others may be a sign of trust issues.
- Fear: Feeling anxious around your partner or feeling scared is a good warning sign that your relationship needs repair or is in danger.
- Anger issues: Although it’s normal for couples to get angry with each other from time to time, frequent or explosive rage is a red flag.
- Unresolved issues: If you have underlying issues that you argue about over and over again, you may need to deal with them in order to put the arguing to an end.
- Controlling behaviour: If your partner is making attempts to control your hobbies, career, friendships, or other aspects, it may be a sign of an emotionally abusive relationship.
- Overreactions: Aggressive emotional reactions to seemingly small comments or problems can point to anger management issues.
- Inequality: A healthy relationship should strive to ensure sharing and caring is a joint effort.
- Threats of violence: These can be red flags for domestic violence.
- Use of force: If your partner pushes you or restrains you during disagreements, or breaks/throws objects, this can be a sign of domestic violence.
If your partner seems to have become emotionally or physically abusive, it is important to get help now. For more information and guidance with health (including relationship health), visit this link to access your free EFAP resources by searching “Dalhousie” in the search bar on the landing page.