When you’re in a new relationship, spiraling into negative thoughts can be surprisingly easy—you pick up a certain tone in your partner’s voice, and the next thing you know, you’re picking a silly (but monumental) fight over what to make for dinner. (It happens to the best of us.)
But before you start imagining a breakup, take a (deep healing) breath. And try the simple approach researchers are recommending to zap these thoughts before they blow up into battles: “everyday” mindfulness.
When you’re more “present” with your thoughts and feelings (in other words, recognizing and observing your emotions without reacting or lashing out), it’s easier to keep the peace at home, according to a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. And this mindset—which you can practice by doing anything from meditation to playing with coloring books—reduces the impact of all the nasty little things that can seriously mess with your #couplegoals, like conflict, fears of rejection, and destructive behavior.
“The buffering effect of mindfulness on rejection fears was particularly effective for those low in self-esteem.”
During the University of Auckland study, researchers asked 72 New Zealand college students to complete a survey to measure their levels of daily diligence in terms of “living in the moment.” Then, participants kept track of the ups and downs of the their relationships over 10 days.
Those who faced relationship conflict, but participated in more mindful activities—anything from meditation and journaling to just hitting the pause button for a few seconds—were able to resolve their differences in healthier ways.
And if you’re not quite feeling the (self)-love? “Everyday mindfulness” may keep you from inadvertently stirring things up with your partner.
“The buffering effect of mindfulness on rejection fears was particularly effective for those low in self-esteem who chronically doubt their relational value and typically show heightened fears of rejection,” the authors of the study state.
So does that mean spiritually heightened individuals are immune to heartbreak? Definitely not, says lead researcher Holly Claire Dixon, who has practiced mindfulness meditation since she was 18—but it does help.
So next time you want yell at your S.O. for forgetting to refill the Brita, maybe take a second to count to 10? Especially if it’s, ahem, Sunday morning.