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Tweak your support style for better health!

Toni-Ann DiSantis

Tweak your support style for better health!

[Daily Dose] When you’ve had a tough day, a good talk with your spouse can leave you relaxed and unburdened. But a conversation that misses the mark can make you tenser than ever. What’s the difference? When we’re stressed, some ways of communicating feel supportive — and some don’t. Research suggests that learning how to better support your partner, and vice versa, may ease your collective stress quotient, and potentially improve your health. Stress makes levels of the hormone cortisol surge, and when stress is unrelenting, that soaring cortisol wreaks havoc on your body, including your heart. But conversations between partners can reduce stress and tension, make cortisol levels drop, and let the body recover. Even if you think you’re the queen or king of empathy, it’s worth brushing up on what makes a conversation comforting. When your partner is stressed, don’t minimize the problem. Acknowledge it clearly and validate your partner’s feeling. And instead of trying to immediately find solutions to the problem, focus on listening, asking questions, and just being there. Nonverbal communication like eye contact, nodding, and reassuring touch is helpful, too. If all of this comes naturally to you, keep it up. If it doesn’t, practice, and you’ll get the hang of it. Besides lowering stress, comforting talks build trust and closeness in your relationship. That, too, is good for health and happiness.