I am currently in my first serious relationship ever, and to be honest, one of the most surprising parts of the experience is how much you're physically capable of caring about another person's feelings. When your partner is sad, you're sad. You want to do everything to help them. Unfortunately, figuring out exactly how to cheer up your boyfriend or girlfriend isn't as straightforward as we'd all like it to be, but we can learn from others’ experiences. In a
Reddit AskWomen thread, women shared the ways they support their partners when they're feeling down, and I have some of their best tips here for you.
If you’re stuck pondering what to do when your boyfriend is sad or your girlfriend is having an upsetting day, read along and remember these tips next time your partner is in need of some serious cheering up.
Encourage Them To Go Outside And Get Some Air
When he's stressed I encourage more outdoor time for him, usually to take walks or play sports with his group of sports buddies. That gets him out of his head. Discouraged has us working as a team on whatever the problem is. Lots of positive talk paired with constructive action. Switching off the urge to wallow and switching into productivity. A small personal reward can also help, like a batch of brownies after e-mailing targeted resumes. Sad means I give him his space, hugs and kisses when he wants them, comfort food for dinner, listening to him talk.
Going outside and getting some fresh air has been proven to have major health benefits, especially when it comes to mental health. Studies have shown that spending as little as 20 minutes in a park can
lower stress and increase general well-being, which is why encouraging your partner to spend time outdoors is a great idea. I give him space and make him good food.
Sometimes leaving your boyfriend or girlfriend alone for a bit can be the best thing to do, especially if they explicitly
ask you for some space. “If your partner needs space rather than your presence, take time to ground yourself,” says Laurie Davis Edwards, love coach and founder of The Worthy One. “The more centered you are when they do return, the more supportive you'll be.”
Don't Try To Force Them To Talk
I play with his hair and rub his ears; most of the time talking about it only stresses him out more, so I just do things that soothe him physically and let him talk if he wants to. Never try to force a discussion about a stressor, it generally only makes things worse.
While it may feel like you’re not actively combating their negative emotions,
being aware of your partner’s behaviors and supporting them in non-verbal ways are some of the most thoughtful things you can do. "If there are moments when you feel useless, know that your presence means everything," Edwards says. He likes to talk about his feelings and things that are going on. So usually we will go for a walk while he talks and sometimes asks for my input. If he does ask for my input I will give it other than that I will just listen. If it’s been a stressful week for him I’ll make sure I say hey I’ll be at this coffee shop or restaurant feel free to join. Putting the option out there usually means he ends up joining and it helps.
Knowing how to cheer your boyfriend or girlfriend up can be as simple as taking a relaxing stroll around the neighborhood or in a park. "Exercise is a natural stress reliever," Justin Lavelle, a dating expert and Chief Communications Officer of online background check platform
BeenVerified, told Bustle. "In fact, studies have shown that going for a 10 minute walk a day can reduce many ailments: depression, anxiety, anger, etc. The release of endorphins will lower stress-producing hormones and boost self-esteem and happiness." I talk to him, listen to him. I give him words of encouragement and give him some extra love. I'll give him space if he needs it or cheer him up with his fav things.
Being there for your partner — whether it’s in-person or over the phone — is essential to making them feel
supported and cared for in times of distress. "For support, being there for them and listening is one of the best gifts you can do,” Edwards tells Elite Daily. “And for empathy, remember that this is not taking on someone else's emotion, but rather being there with them in the emotion and saying, 'I see you and I get it.'" I give my SO really long hugs, like 20 seconds+ so that they force him to stop and breathe for a minute. Sometimes that's all it really takes for him to feel a little better. Physical touch is also his love language though, so it probably depends on the person.
u/jessibakescakes Physical touch significantly reduces both physical and emotional pain, which is why lending your partner a hand or hug can make such an impact. In fact, it has been proven to increase levels of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that help regulate your mood and offset feelings of stress and anxiety in the brain.
Let Them Know You’re Here For Them
I used to try to fix the problem or offer solutions, or tell jokes thinking he needed to laugh, but one deep conversation after I sensed he was more stressed with my actions, I asked him what did he want me to do, and he responded, “just tell me I’m here for you” and so now I simply listen. If he wants to talk about it, he will. I find that he confides in me more now than before.
The main thing you can do for your partner when they are feeling down is to offer up your unconditional support, as opposed to immediately giving them your advice and thoughts. "Ask questions [and] talk it through,
Rebekah Montgomery, Ph.D., a psychologist and relationship expert, told Bustle. “Providing emotional and verbal support goes a long way, particularly when a situation isn't quickly fixable.” Cuddling without talking. He doesn't love verbalizing his stress or sadness and prefers if I sit next to him and do my own thing whilst rubbing his back and legs.
Creating a relaxing and
intimate space for you and your partner to share will likely help reduce their sadness, according to Chelsea Hudson, a licensed therapist and founder of Cityscape Counseling. "Give them a massage with some essential oils whilst playing relaxing music," Hudson told Bustle. "This use of physical touch coupled with calming music is known as self-soothing, an act that signals to the brain that you are safe and commands the relaxation nervous system to be activated."
Care For Them In Their Love Language
It depends on what he's upset about. I think sometimes its hard to identify what you need when youre upset, so learning our love languages was a huge help. Mine are personal touch and quality time, his is primarily acts of service. Knowing how we each feel loved means that now, even if it's hard to identify what exactly is upsetting or how precisely we could help each other out, we know that I can always help him and show him I love and support him by doing acts of service, and he knows hugs/kisses/quality time will usually help me.
Depending on your
partner’s love language, some actions might mean more to them than others. But in general, being thoughtful will surely cheer them up because little actions added up mean a whole lot when put together. "The more we can 'micro bond,' where we engage in small actions that keep us connected and strengthen the connection, the more effective and lasting the bigger bonding moments are," clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow previously told Elite Daily. Make him food. Bring him treats. Listen. Give him lots of love. Try and get him out if the house to distract him.
Everyone can attest to food making situations better. In this case, it might just add a little extra happiness in
your partner’s otherwise bad day. "Not only will you take cooking dinner (or whichever meal) off your partner’s to-do list, but also the gesture shows that you care and want [them] to feel better," Lavelle said. My boyfriend comes from a very conservative culture - mental health is seen as unimportant and something that should be kept private. He has a lot of trouble just venting out but I'm helping him through it and he feels a lot better after venting his problems out instead of just keeping everything to himself. Just cuddling is guaranteed to make him feel a lot better
Especially if your partner
struggles with opening up about their emotions, being supportive and loving through your physical actions can be incredibly meaningful and comforting. Cuddling is known to release oxytocin, a hormone released by the brain that helps people bond and can lower anxiety, depression, and blood pressure. I do chores and run errands for him. I'll fold his laundry, clean up the kitchen, cook him food, pick up food or a prescription for him at the store. When he gets stressed or sad, it's harder to do those simple tasks, but its any easy thing for me to do to help.
Something as small as doing the dishes or washing bed sheets for your partner when they’re upset can be very impactful. Simply going out of your way to make their day easier means more than you might think. "Take over some household chores or volunteer to run errands for them until their stress subsides," Hudson said. "Reducing demands on your partner can lower their overall stress."
Overall, when your partner is sad or stressed and needs some cheering up,
being a good listener and doing all the things that you know they love will mean the world to them. OK, now go off and be the amazing partner you were meant to be with these tips in mind. Studies referenced: Yuen, H. K., & Jenkins, G. R. (2020). Factors associated with changes in subjective well-being immediately after urban park visit. International journal of environmental health research, 30(2), 134–145. https://doi.org/10.1080/09603123.2019.1577368 Sahi R.S., Dieffenbach M.C., Gan S., Lee M., Hazlett L.I., Burns S.M., et al. (2021) The comfort in touch: Immediate and lasting effects of handholding on emotional pain. PLoS ONE 16(2): e0246753. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0246753 Neumann I. (2007) Oxytocin: The Neuropeptide of Love Reveals Some of Its Secrets. Cell Metabolism Vol 5, Issue 4. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2007.03.008 Experts: Laurie Davis Edwards , love coach and founder of The Worthy One Justin Lavelle , dating expert and Chief Communications Officer of online background check platform BeenVerified Rebekah Montgomery , Ph.D., psychologist and relationship expert Chelsea Hudson , licensed therapist and founder of Cityscape Counseling Dr. Joshua Klapow , clinical psychologist