Most of us have many deadlines we have to meet each week. Not just work deadlines but also things like coordinating an event for a non-profit you volunteer at, baking the cupcakes to bring to your child’s school the next day, getting your taxes done in time and countless other responsibilities. Two spouses who I interviewed for a book I wrote to help stressed couples faced a deadline of sandbagging the river to stop it from destroying their home—now that’s really stressful!
Deadlines are stressful regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or not. But if you’re in a relationship and under deadline it can strain what’s normally a peaceful union and interfere with intimacy in bed. If you have kids, it can even cause you to snap at them and feel bad about it later.
Imagine if you could relax and be at peace even when you’re under the gun to get something done. Here are some suggestions for both couples and singles on how to erase deadline pressure:
Try Meditation in a Cup
Green tea contains an amino acid known as L-theanine, which creates a sense of relaxation in approximately 30-40 minutes after your first sip. It accomplishes this in part by directly stimulating the production of alpha brain waves, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to what you would feel during meditation. Subjects who consumed L-theanine in a clinical trial experienced a reduction in the heart rate responses to a stress task.
There’s also something deeply relaxing and comforting about holding a hot cup of tea in your hands on a cold day.
Inhale the Scent of Lavender
Scientists demonstrated the relaxing power of lavender oil aromatherapy in a clinical trial. One group of 15 subjects received lavender oil and oxygen through a face mask. Another control group of 15 volunteers also received oxygen through a face mask—but no lavender oil. The researchers then stuck a needle into the subjects to stress them out.
The subjects who received the aromatherapy were less stressed during the needle insertion than the controls. Even better, the pain intensity of the needle insertion was significantly decreased in the subjects receiving the lavender aromatherapy compared with the controls.
Keep a bottle of lavender aromatherapy oil by your desk or in your home and take a whiff whenever you’re stressed. Put a couple drops into hand lotion and rub it into your wrists or even into your feet at night. Or try growing lavender in the garden and put a lavender bouquet on your desk.
Remind Yourself to Breathe
Put a post it note on your computer to remind yourself to take deep breaths during deadlines. Or, trigger a breathing reminder by promising yourself you’ll inhale deeply each time you hear that “you’ve got mail” sound on your computer.
Separate The Deadline from The Date
If there’s a project you need to finish but you have to stop work to go on a date with your significant other or spouse, put up an imaginary glass wall between the deadline and your date. To do this, do something to temporarily detach yourself from the deadline. For example, turn off the computer and step outside for five minutes. Admire your garden. Gaze up at the sky. Take a deep breath. Shoot a few hoops. Or, if you have more time, take a hot bath or sit in the Jacuzzi.
Remind Yourself of Past Successes
Every month I have 2 – 4 newsletters to edit, write and produce for my client. Sometimes, there’s so much to do I’m afraid it won’t get done in time. But somehow, it always does and has for the last 12 years. So remember, you’ve successfully completed other deadlines. You’ll get through this one, too.
Pet Your Dog or Cat
Pets can melt away stress. And they’re good for the heart, too. Studies show your furry friends can even help reduce your blood pressure.
Pretend Your Significant Other is a Stranger
Too often we use our romantic partners as emotional punching bags. They’re the ones who often take the brunt of our stress. On the other hand, we’re nice to strangers and put on our best behavior for them. Instead of taking out your stress on your significant other, show them the same consideration and politeness you would to someone you barely know.
Take B Vitamins
A good B-complex supplement can help ease deadline stress. In one study, researchers examined the effect of 3 months’ administration of high-dose vitamin B complex on mood and psychological strain associated with chronic work stress. The subjects given the vitamin B complex reported feeling significantly less personal strain and a reduction in depressed/dejected mood after 12 weeks.
Go On a One-Minute Vacation
Close your eyes and pretend you’re watching the clouds drift across the sky or sitting by a mountain stream, listening to the water tumble over the rocks. Or picture yourself in a field of wildflowers. Do this for one-minute while taking deep breaths.
Make Sure the Timing Is Right
Never bring up relationship issues when your romantic partner is stressed from trying to meet a deadline. Wait until he or she is more relaxed and receptive.
Kimberly Pryor is the author of The Indestructible Relationship, a book she wrote to help the two of you support and understand each other better during stressful times. The Indestructible Relationship was a finalist in the 2011 Global eBook awards and is a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook awards.