If you and your partner have been following social distance protocols like many of us, chances are you’re running out of ideas for how to keep things interesting with each other. You need relationship advice for COVID-19.
What may not have crossed your mind is that engaging in social behavior — specifically what is called “prosocial” behavior — could be a way for each of you to keep your own sense of well-being intact, which in turn supports maintaining a Rock Solid Relationship.
What exactly is “prosocial” behavior? It just means engaging in behavior intended to help others. And there are many ways you can be prosocial safely even during the pandemic.
Let’s dive into what research tells us about the mental health benefits of “doing good” and what that means for your relationship. Then take a handful of our ideas on how to do something good for each other and together to keep the good vibes flowing.
The Correlation Between Prosociality and Psychological Well-being
As easy as it may be to head in an anti-social direction right now, recent decades have yielded a body of research for the positive correlation between helping others and our personal well-being.
A number of studies suggest that prosocial behavior is most strongly associated with psychological function and well-being. Furthermore, informal helping (a random act of kindness vs. planned volunteering, for example) was associated with greater well-being benefit.
Informal efforts? Psychological benefits? That’s a combination we can get behind! And we have a few simple suggestions for how you and your partner can be prosocial together while social distancing.
How to Be Prosocial While Keeping Your Social Distance
While most of the research was done in a pre-COVID environment, there are ways you can adapt prosocial behavior while maintaining a comfortable social distance with the world.
These behaviors encompass a wide range of concepts to include comforting, helping, rescuing, and sharing. So how can you get the same sense of prosociality in your world right now?
Here are a few suggestions from us…
- Next time you’re ordering groceries or perusing Etsy, order a random something for your spouse that you know they’ll love.
- When you see an online fundraiser a mutual friend is doing online, check in with your partner and donate together.
- If you notice your spouse pinching a shoulder at their work-from-home space, offer up a quick massage.
When you’re in the drive-through together, decide on a special treat to give to the car behind you as a surprise — the cashier can pass it along safely!
- Join the Facebook page for your neighborhood or your local Buy Nothing group and look out for requests for help you can do together. It could be as simple as cleaning out your pantry and offering those items up to whoever might need them!
- Catch your partner doing something you like or appreciate, and offer a genuine compliment.
- When your partner seems frustrated, be the friend they need, offer a listening ear.
- Write thank you notes together — to anyone! Loved ones, healthcare workers, essential workers, neighbors; everyone can use a little appreciation right now.
- Send a special delivery to someone — cookies, pizza, fruits, an item on their Amazon wish list — it could be someone you personally know or not.
Go on, get random! Feel the benefits of getting prosocial while socially distant.
And for committed couples feeling the real strain of social distancing for months and are this close to committing an act of random, ahem, unkindness in your household, know you’re not alone. One thing you can do right now is book an online session with relationship counselors Norene Gonsiewski and Tim Higdon for a quick reset! We are hear to help.