Staying mindful and present while living in quarantine has proven extremely difficult for most of us. With so much uncertainty in the air and vague estimations of when life can begin to resemble normalcy, it’s hard to stop ourselves from overthinking and giving in to anxiety-inducing thoughts.
These thoughts can interfere with your ability to be present in your daily life and in your relationship. Chances are, both you and your partner are feeling at least some anxiety and stress right now, either because of the current state of the world or how the quarantine is affecting your relationship. Mindfulness exercises are a great way to help reduce anxiety and stress.
Incorporating mindfulness exercises into your life is just one way to forge a stronger relationship as a couple. This can help you better weather life’s stresses and anxieties so that when stressful situations like quarantine pass, you’ll be more connected than ever.
Benefits of mindfulness in relationships
If you’re feeling anxious or fighting with your partner, it can be helpful to take some time to yourself to try the mindfulness techniques below and come back to your problem later. This can give you a chance to calm down and gain more clarity on the situation or help you focus on what actions you want to take.
You and your partner can even do mindfulness exercises together to bring you both a sense of calm during an anxious time. If you choose to do them together, be sure to put down your phones and step away from any distractions.
Whether you do it on your own or together, practicing mindfulness in your relationship can help you and your partner:
- Improve your mood so you feel calmer and happier
- Become better listeners and less distracted when having a conversation
- Have stronger emotion regulation, which means less anger and sadness
- Become more in tune with your feelings and your partner’s feelings
- Have more productive conversations and better problem solving
- Forge a deeper connection that leads to more intimacy
I’ve found that certain mindfulness techniques help me stay more present and grounded than others. These techniques can help you and your partner reduce your levels of anxiety so you can feel more calm, centered, and connected.
Five senses technique
One easy and simple mindfulness exercise that I partake in daily is the five senses technique, which I usually do every time I take my dog out for a walk. This technique uses your five senses — sight, touch, sound, smell, and taste — to help ground you and bring you into the present moment.
I usually go up to some flowers to do this technique, but any scene or area out in nature will work perfectly. If you’re doing this inside, it can be done in any room and in any area of your house.
I’ll start by noticing five things that I see in front of me. This can be the flowers themselves, their leaves, any blades of grass, or insects around the flowers.
Then I’ll touch four different things. I might gently run my finger across a flower petal or dig my hands in the grass, or I may give my dog a pet.
I’ll pay attention to three things that I can hear: the wind blowing through the trees, the sound of a lawn mower, or maybe a dog barking in the distance.
Then I’ll notice two things that I can smell, which could be the flowers themselves or the clean air.
Finally, I’ll focus on one thing I can taste. If I have a water bottle with me, then I’ll take a sip of water and mindfully pay attention to the feeling and sensation of the water going down my throat.
Another quick mindfulness exercise that can be done anywhere and at any time is a grounding technique. While sitting on a surface, I notice all of the different areas of my body that are touching that surface and focus all of my attention to those areas. These areas are usually my back, thighs, and feet.
After I divert my attention to these areas for a few minutes, I then dig the bottoms of my feet into the ground so that I can really feel the earth beneath me. This is a quick way to (literally) ground yourself and bring you back into the present moment, especially if you’re feeling caught up in your thoughts or feeling some acute anxiety.
By Rachel Chistyakov, AMFT. Rachel is an associate at the office of Marina Edelman, LMFT. You can read more about her here.