Having healthy relationships is just like having a healthy body. Healthy bodies and healthy relationships both require healthy practices–workouts and even training. Here are some ideas that can be quick mini “work outs” that you can do in about 5 minutes or less.
Seeing “eye to eye”: There really is something to be said about people who see “eye to eye” in the figurative sense. However, those who see eye to eye in the literal sense for at least 5 minutes at a time, actually seem to have more agreements, better communication and the ability to understand one another, even if they aren’t talking while they are eye to eye. Eye contact is an important form of communication. By maintaining eye contact we allow ourselves to be present to the HUMAN being that we are interacting with. This gives us access to emotions like: compassion, forgiveness, trust and love. It may take some time to build up to this type of focused and deliberate attention and so we recommend you start slowly with 1 minute, then 2, then 3…until you get to 5. Once you’re at 5 go slowly with the days so that you’re doing it once every day for a week, then two weeks, three weeks then the whole month or more. By the time you’re looking each other “eye to eye” on a regular basis, you might be surprised at what opens up.
Keep in Touch: We’ve all written those words a year book or said them at the causal end of a very casual relationship? Yet, how many of us actually mean it for any longer than it took for us to write or say? In our relationships cuddling…holding hands…or just sitting next to one another so that you are touching in a very comfortable way for at least 5 minutes at a time during the day can do wonders. The type of relationship doesn’t matter. The type of touch, though, can be important. This touch should be safe, consensual and loving …even if it’s not intimate or sexual. This means that the touch must be something that ALL parties involved agree to and welcome.
If your friend isn’t comfortable with a hug that lasts at least 5 minutes…maybe they would be comfortable sitting with your feet crossing. If your partner doesn’t want to be in the full body cuddle hold for at least 5 minutes maybe they’d be comfortable sitting with your arms linked. The important thing is that whatever you do, it should be communicated and discussed ahead of time or if you do some impromptu touching…just make sure you get a verbal “yes” before you start. Doing this practice helps create a space for people to talk about what they want and what they don’t. Not to mention that if we knew that after a long day at work we could COUNT ON someone giving us a hug…a pat on the back or high 5, we might find that the rest of the day goes with by much more smoothly.
LOL: For those of you who aren’t so “tech savvy”, LOL stands for Laugh(ing) out loud. This is either typed in an email or sent via text message when someone wants to express that they are laughing at something, so what is it doing here as a recommended practice for relationship wellness? Are we suggesting that you laugh at your loved ones? Well….yes, actually we are. Outside of this practice, we wouldn’t think it would feel great to have a person we are in a relationship with laughing at us. However, when the goal IS to laugh…there is a different context for the laughter. The point of this practice is to sit with people and laugh at them. Laugh “at” them, in this case means you are looking at them and you are just laughing. The only way to lose is to be the first person to stop laughing for more than 15 seconds. Again, this work out won’t be easy when you first start doing it. You might have feelings that come up about laughing at someone or being laughed at. This is especially the case when you first get started. It’s recommended in the early practices that you laugh for a minute…then write or talk about what you felt in that minute for the remaining 4 minutes. Do this 1 minute laughing…4 minutes talking/sharing/writing until EVERYONE is ready to move to 2 minutes laughing…3 minutes talking/sharing/writing. Eventually, you’ll find that when you go to sit down for 5 minutes of straight laughter, you might even start doing things to HELP them keep laughing “at” you. We promise you though that in either case, this workout might be one that causes you to laugh just by them smiling at you. Soon, you might need another workout called “Now, keep a straight face” but we won’t be taking that on here.
Honey DID list: This idea is a twist on list that usually doesn’t seem like much fun. A “Honey Do” list is often a list of things that you want someone to DO, tasks…chores…things that require work and or their attention. This time you’re going to sit for 5 minutes and write a list of things that they’ve done that you really appreciate. You can do this on paper or by using a voice recorder. The list doesn’t have to be long or big and if you only have a few things on your list, you might express how what they did helped or improved your day, your environment or just your mood. A “Honey Did” list is a chance to acknowledge them for all the things that they did that made a difference. This is a much more encouraging list than simply giving them a bunch of things to do and it might even make them want to “DO” more.
Follower the Leader: This exercise requires a little bit of set up. You might have to make a list of topics ahead of time and then put them on slips of paper. How it works is that you start with a topic for example “animals” and for 5 minutes you will think of things in the topic. To start out, one of you will be the “leader”. The job of the other person is to repeat whatever the leader says. Then without stopping switch who is leading and who is following back and forth. You’ll find that as you get faster and better at this game who is the leader and who is the follower may become less clear. However, it’s clear how fun communication is as you play this game. As you play, you will develop the ability to be present and connected in way that can only happen when you lead and follow with ease.
Wellness Wonder Workout: These exercises work well as standalone activities and you can get many relationship benefits out of being mindful enough to add any one of them to your Wellness program. Once you’ve built up your muscle in one area and you’ve taken on a new one or few, you may feel like you’re up for a Wonder Workout. This workout happens when you either combine the exercises above in one powerful 5 minute session or if you spread the single exercises throughout the day, much like someone might do arms in the morning and legs at night. The very different goal about this workout though is that it’s important that you keep the “wonder” present more than the exercise. The “wonder” is the fun…the adventure…the life of the workout. Try not to focus on how much is said or making it something else to check off your “to do” list. By keeping it light and easy, you’ll get more benefit in the long run than hitting it hard and fast. Relationships are a race and most people aren’t looking to get to the end faster. Relationships are more like marathons. They work better when you have small goals, when you keep yourself fit, when you do them with a support system and most of all when you keep them FUN!
Marcella Lyles, M.Ed. teaches Love & Committed Relationships (course #5423) at CFU. She is the CEO and Lead Relationship Wellness Consultant at The Loving Well, LLC. The Loving Well is a Relationship Wellness Company with the mission of helping WellBeings create relationships what leave them loving well. All materials are protected by The Loving Well, LLC and cannot be copied or reprinted without expressed written permission. ©The Loving Well, LLC 2014