55KRC: Tips to reduce stress with your partner

UC expert discusses how additional pandemic stress is affecting couples

The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional stress for most people, which sometimes has translated into relationship issues with romantic partners.

Erica Birkley, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience in the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and a UC Health psychiatrist, said she is seeing patients report more arguments with their significant other or engaging in uncharacteristic actions like raising their voice at a partner.

Birkley said communication difficulties are the No. 1 cited issue for couples and recommends "channel checking" with your partner to reduce frustration that can lead to arguments and more stress. You and your partner can discuss whether you are on the sharing thoughts and feelings channel or the problem solving channel before starting a conversation, she said.

Couples can also take a timeout and pause a conversation that is headed toward escalation, Birkley said.

"You regroup, you cool off, you think about one important thought or feeling to share with a partner," Birkley told Angenette Levy of 55KRC on the Simply Medicine program. "And then you time in within a half an hour and talk it through."

Listen to the Simply Medicine podcast.

Note: Segment with Dr. Birkley begins at approximately the 16:15 mark.

Featured photo at top courtesy of Unsplash.

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