Wellness

My wellness wins: relationships coach Sam Owen

The author of Happy Relationships on how to avoid arguments this Christmas, the (mind) power of a hot shower, and why intimacy starts with good conversation

My bedtime routine…
If I’m getting into bed with my husband, we’ll watch something easy-going together to tire us out or I’ll read because it’s really immersive and doesn’t make your brain active in the way that social media can do. I usually get eight hours.

My morning ritual is…
Either going for a walk or spending time relaxing in my lounge. I do most of my work from home and used to get up, grab some coffee and breakfast, and start work. Then I realised that when people commute to work, they have time to themselves. I thought, ‘Why am I rushing?’.

I always tell my loved ones to…
Go for a walk in nature if you’re feeling anxious, stressed or angry, either with yourself or with your partner. Nature helps soothe anxiety symptoms – it slows down the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. You’ll return and have a conversation rather than an argument!

My favourite mantra is
‘Everything happens for the best’, which my mum used to tell me when I was a teenager.

I love to cook…
Curries. When you cook for somebody it shows you really care for them. Research shows that we gain from giving – we feel happier and more resilient when we give.

My favourite way of relaxing is…
To have a hot shower. There’s a suggestion that we can problem-solve while daydreaming, so by doing something routine, your brain can wander. I solve a lot of problems in the shower!

Exercise to me involves…
Weight training in the gym or brisk walking. If exercise is to help with anxiety, some days you may only need 10 minutes of brisk walking, other days longer.

My biggest turn on…
Great conversation. Greater emotional intimacy is linked to greater sexual desire and good sexual satisfaction is also linked to marital satisfaction. If conversation has dried up, come up with questions about your partner’s past – their childhood, their life, or their thoughts and opinions on things. No matter how long you’ve been together, there’s still loads of stuff you still don’t know!

The bad habit I’m glad I’ve kicked…
Telling myself I’m fat. As I got older, I realised how what you say to yourself influences your behaviour. Aside from what I was telling myself not being good for my mental wellbeing, it was also keeping me bigger. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I inject positivity into my life by…
Playing music and having a little dance! One of my quotes from my book Anxiety Free [Orion Spring] is ‘your brain is paying attention to how you treat yourself’.

No.1 on my gratitude list is…
Good people in my life. But when you spend lots of time with loved ones, even the best ones can become challenging, especially over Christmas. Have some responses rehearsed to tricky questions. Perhaps it’s your first Christmas as a divorcée or you’re single for the third year running, and you know your auntie is going ask how you feel. Also, learn to appreciate people’s differences rather than taking them as a challenge to your own way of thinking.

Happy Relationships by Sam Owen, Orion Spring, £14.99