Cultivating Intimacy in Relationships

The Oxford English Dictionary defines intimacy as the “inmost thoughts or feelings; proceeding from, concerning, or affecting one’s inmost self: closely personal.” While intimacy can undoubtedly exist outside of romantic relationships, it most commonly associated with romance.

Intimacy allows people to bond with each other on many levels. Therefore, it is a necessary component of healthy relationships.

Types of Intimacy in Relationships

When thinking about intimacy, the most common thought that pops in our head is physical intimacy. However, other forms of intimacy are just as important, especially when it comes to romantic relationships.

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Physical Intimacy

While a hug or holding a hand are both examples of physical intimacy, this type is most commonly used in reference to sex. And while sex is important in relationships, you can also demonstrate physical intimacy through kissing, holding hands, cuddling, and skin-to-skin touching.

While these small physical shows of affection may seem mundane, they can help you and your partner cultivate a feeling of closeness, particularly when done regularly.

In reference to sex, a part of intimacy is feeling safe enough with your partner to share your likes and dislikes. Make sure that you are asking for the same information from your partner. This way, you can facilitate a safe environment where you both feel comfortable sharing your deepest thoughts and desires.

Emotional

Emotional intimacy can be one of the most important factors of a relationship. To cultivate emotional intimacy, take time to listen to and share with your partner each day. Also, make notes of special moments or things that remind you of your partner so that you can let them know you’re thinking about them.

A way to make intimacy stronger is through self-disclosure.  A big part of intimacy is sharing your thoughts and feelings honestly, and listening to your partner when they do the same.

Spiritual

While this can be referring to religious ideas and beliefs, it can also mean something more profound, like sharing actual beliefs and values. Your values and beliefs can align with religion or even health and wellness. Regardless, it’s important to share these important aspects of your life with your partner.

This can also be a chance for you and your partner to talk about what role you want spirituality to play in your lives if you have a family.

Intellectual

You don’t have to watch Jeopardy together every single night, but it can be fun to have intellectual conversations with your partner, primarily if you work in different fields. Find new topics to talk about; simple Google searches pull up hundreds of conversation starters.

If you put effort into having conversations outside of the everyday monotony, it can keep things fresh in your relationship.

Experiential

While couples don’t have to be joined at the hip, shared experiences are important in healthy relationships. They’re also often the way that relationships begin, so experiences can even add an element of nostalgia for long-term partners.

If you’re looking to deepen your experiential intimacy, this is an excellent time to book a trip or try out a fun new date spot or activity in your city. Attempt to learn something new about your partner.

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How to Build Intimacy in Relationships

No matter how long you have been together, it’s always important to build your intimacy levels. Here are some easy, practical ways to strengthen your levels of intimacy in your relationship:

  • If you’re too tired for sex or even talking, cuddle on the couch in silence.
  • Plan a trip to a place neither of you has been. It’s fun to experience new things for the first time.
  • Put down the electronics, even if it’s just during a meal or while you and your spouse watch a show together. Indeed, make sure to do this if your partner is talking to you about their day or an experience.
  • Speaking of listening to your partner, make yourself emotionally available to them. If you absolutely can’t manage to do this when they’re talking to you, calmly explain why and then set aside time in the future to listen to what they have to say.
  • Send each other articles so that you have something fun and new to talk about. This also helps build on intellectual intimacy, and it can give you a much-needed mental break if you have kids or are a caregiver to another loved one.

Tick-Tock

Time management can be one of the biggest struggles which many people do face. The question keeps emerging: how do I keep up with my life, and all the things I have to do?

So what can we do, to use our time properly and wisely?

  1. Know your goals – What do you want to do in your life? And what do you need to do to achieve that? what do you need to do? These include your short-term and long-term goals.
  2. Prioritise – Are you hosting a party in a few days, and need to do the grocery shopping for that? Have an assignment deadline coming up? Notice what is urgent, and what is important. Some things can be urgent, but not that important, and so less time can be dedicated to them, or better yet, delegate this job to others if possible; others are important but not urgent, so one can allocate more time to them, but at a later stage.
  3. Say no – be comfortable to refuse projects or activities which do not serve your short-term, nor long-term goals.
  4. Plan ahead – Allocate some time every day, either first thing in the morning, or last thing before going to bed, in order to plan the next day. See your prioritised to-do list, and clear your desk and prepare it for the day to come.
  5. Eliminate distractions – do you spend too much time on social media just scrolling, or do you answer texts too quickly? If there’s an action which doesn’t serve you, such as by fuelling your creativity, or encourage you to work more productively, then eliminate it from your life. Put your phone on silent, and install extensions in your web browser which will limit your social media time.
  6. Delegate – This cannot be repeated enough. Delgate, delegate, delegate. If there’s an action which doesn’t necessarily have to be done by you, then try see who can do it instead of you. Are you always the one who has to find a restaurant for when your group of friends hangs out, but then you realise that you waste hours trying to find the perfect restaurant which suits everyone? Give that task to someone else for a change.
  7. Take care of yourself – Sleep, exercise, practice a hobby, be mindful. All of these actions will help you be more alert for your work, and also will help you relax and relieve stress. And when we relieve stress and anxiety, we can automatically work better on our tasks.

Am I Too Old To Change Jobs?

Many people think about changing their careers, even after a considerable amount of time in the same job or sector. It is never too late to change careers. Career transitions offer an opportunity, a challenge and financial rewards, but at the same time might offer stress, and even financial difficulties.

Common beliefs about jobs include that you keep working in the same career until you retire. This is actually not true. People change, industries change and sometimes certain careers even actually disappear. Just like our life’s journey, our career journey is multifaceted and transitional.

The important thing is to reflect on where you have arrived and where you want to go. Unfortunately, many do not really know themselves, so this is an exercise in self-reflection. Your job and life experiences are very valuable as they present your talents and skills in different scenarios.

Start working towards the next step. Find different ways of updating yourself, with for example different part-time/online courses. Networking is also very essential at this stage, as you never know enough people in the world of work. Try expanding your horizons beyond those acquaintances you know. In addition, your online presence is critical at this point in time as it will get many to take notice of you and what you are capable of.

Take your decisions carefully and trust yourself while making them. Take things one step at a time, until you know your plan and are ready to make the move. Resilience and adaptability are vital factors to manage challenges in one’s career development. It is, therefore, crucial to be mentally prepared. It may take some time to sort your thoughts and the tasks you need to do in order to change your career, but don’t panic.

Go after career satisfaction and fulfilment. Making a career change is not an easy decision, but if you prepare yourself for this change, it will pay off into a successful career and a well-lived life. Hold on to what is working for you, let go of what is not, take on new learning opportunities and move on towards new experiences. 

Letting Go…of Anger

Anger is an emotion, same as happiness and sadness. And this means that anger in itself is not a problem, but rather what we can do when we are angry. This is the same as happiness and sadness… after all, if I get so happy that I start spending all my money, then that’s an issue as well.

Anger can be channeled in a constructive way which supports your goals in life, rather than hinders them. Here are some things you can do to let go of your anger:

  1. Take deep breaths – and practice meditation.
  2. Recite a mantra which supports you, such as “everything is going to be ok” or “I’m ok”. Say this slowly repeatedly.
  3. Try a visualisation where you’re taken to a place which calms you and makes you happy.
  4. Express your frustration – find a trusted friend or loved one and allow yourself to express your frustration in a safe and supportive environment. Expressing frustration allows the anger to dissipate rather than remain bubbling inside.
  5. Defuse anger with humour – Finding the funny aspect of a situation can help defuse a tense situation. We’re not laughing away problems, but rather being more lighthearted about them. So imagine your situation from an outsider’s point of view… what would be funny for them?

Exam Season – ready for this?

Exams are one of the main stressors for young people, and this stress can really affect our productivity. Here are some tips and ideas which can help you this exam season.

Create the right working environment

  1. Have comfortable furniture to sit on. Get a larger desk, giving you more comfort when spreading out notes and books.
  2. Declutter your space.
  3. Buy fun and nice stationary – make studying fun with colourful pens and notepads.

Eliminate Distractions

  1. Find some quiet – if you have noisy siblings or constnat activity at home that can make it hard to focus on studying. Consider going to a library or cafe. Or have a talk with your family to stop entering your room when you’re studying.
  2. Use music – this isn’t for everyone, but many people express that music helps their concentration. Find your own “concentration music” (this can be repeating sounds, or songs you love).
  3. Put your phone on do not disturb
  4. Stay away from social media

Time Management

  1. Set study times – these are specific times in a day when you will focus on studying.
  2. Be realistic with your study goals – you probably wont finish your entire study unit/subject in a couple of hours.

How to Love Yourself in a Few Easy Steps

Getting to know yourself, and loving yourself, can be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding, experiences. After all, you’re stuck with yourself for a lifetime, might as well enjoy the ride.

Self-love might sound like a buzzword nowadays, something which only belongs on social media, ideally with a picture of us taken next to the sea. But what is the true meaning of loving yourself? To love yourself means to respect and accept yourself, be it the good, the bad, or the ugly. To truly love yourself, you need to embrace every piece of you, and every experience you’ve ever had. This doesn’t mean that your experiences must always be seen through this positive lens, but rather, recognise that every experience made you who you are.

Apart from reflecting on your experiences, another way of loving yourself is by placing yourself at the top of your priority list. Does this make you selfish and self-obsessed? Not at all. Care for yourself as you would your best friend. In fact, think about who you surround yourself with? Are these people who are supporting you to be the best version of yourself, or are they more critical, and holding you back? If it’s more the latter, then maybe it’s time to set some boundaries and reorganise your priorities.

Another way to be self-loving is to be kind and understanding towards yourself. This doesn’t mean that you’re the best person in this Universe, but it means you forgive yourself for your mistakes, and you make the active decision to learn from those mistakes. It also involves being more understanding when it comes to things you view as flaws in yourself. When negative thoughts come up, try to talk to yourself as you would a loved one; be gentle, caring and forgiving with your inner dialogue.

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Music for the Soul

You’ve heard of art therapy, you’ve probably also heard of drama therapy, but what about music therapy? Music therapy involves using sound, or vibrations, to elicit some sort of response from the client.

Humans have used music to express emotions for hundreds of years, and music has been so powerful that it has even been banned in some countries for some time! Music and songs can be used to send messages and to retell stories of love and war (note the ballads sung by the bards in olden times).

It’s not just the melodies or the lyrics which can be used for therapy, but also the vibrations. Research has proven time and time again that a cat’s purr resonates and heals our bodies on a cellular level… and what is a purr, if not vibrations?

What’s amazing about music therapy is that you don’t have to be a musician, or even feel creative, to benefit from it. Music is made all the time, from the sound of a laptop’s fan, to footsteps on the street. All you have to do is listen.

So, dabble with an instrument, even if you’re not going to be the next Mozart! And create some playlists – create a playlist for your feel good songs; create another for songs that energise you; create another for those songs which make you feel something on a deeper level. And use them to help process your feelings, or to express yourself.

First Aid for Self-Injuries

There are many forms of self-harm (also known as non-suicidal self-harm). These can come in the form of cutting, hitting, pulling of hair, and so on. In another blog I will go into harm reduction when it comes to self-harm, but now I want to explore how to take care of your injuries, specifically after cutting.

  • Assess the damage. If blood is pumping out from the injured area, in time to your heartbeat (to check your heartbeat you can put two fingers to your neck, under your jaw; or you can press two fingers to your wrist) then this means you have cut through an artery – therefore immediate direct-pressure is needed, and you should head to your nearest clinic or call an ambulance;
  • The bleeding needs to be controlled to make sure blood loss is minimal. Cover the wound with a clean dressing (do not use tissues as pieces of tissue can get stuck to the wound and cause an infection) and apply direct pressure to prevent bleeding do this for 3-5mns;
  • When blood trickles or oozes out of a wound then it would not necessarily be an emergency, but veins, tendons and nerves may still have suffered damage;
  • If the area of injury is on a limb then raise the limb to reduce blood flow to the area, reducing blood loss and allowing time for a blood clot to form.

When direct pressure is not appropriate, such as when something is stuck in the would, then you may use indirect pressure by pressing the wound together – do not remove the object, but call for an ambulance. 

If you have been feeling distressed or in pain, consider speaking with a therapist or counsellor who can support you through the pain. If this is not accessible for you, consider speaking with emergency or 24/7 services like 179, 1770, and kellimni.com (in Malta & Gozo).