Empower: Helping Couples Take Care of Themselves During COVID-19

First in a series of virtual meetings from ISU Extension and Outreach

April 3, 2020, 11:17 am | David Brown, Anthony Santiago

AMES, Iowa -- When couples take care of themselves, they can take better care of each other. That's the premise of Empower, the first in a series of seven virtual meetings to help couples elevate their relationship during the COVID-19 outbreak.

David Brown and Anthony Santiago, human sciences specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will be leading the first virtual meeting Wednesday, April 8, from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. CDT via Connect at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/healthy-relationships/. During this session they will review the tools couples can immediately use to improve their relationship during this challenging time.  

The information presented will be based on ELEVATE, a relationship education curriculum developed by the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network.

Take Care of Yourself

couple indoors at home, doing exercise on the floor by Halfpoint/stock.adobe.com."The first recommendation is that individual partners in a relationship take care of themselves. That may sound odd, since we are talking about couples. However, we know that the health of each individual in a relationship directly impacts the wellness of the couple relationship. So sometimes, we need to care for ourselves, before we care for others," Santiago said.  

Santiago and Brown offer these suggestions.

  • Eat healthy and exercise. To feel good and have the energy to love your partner well, make healthy food choices. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while decreasing foods that have a lot of sugar and salt. Most physicians also recommend 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five times per week.
  • Notice the small things. This helps us to appreciate the happy moments and good things in our lives.
  • Find ways to use your strengths. A person’s strengths, besides talents, can include qualities such as kindness, leadership ability or being a good parent. Focusing on strengths can lead to better emotional health and couple wellness.  
  • Sexual health and intimacy. Physical and emotional wellness is also related to sexual satisfaction in a couple relationship. Know yourself and your wants. Being kind to each other helps to set the mood.
  • Manage stress in healthy ways. How we react to stress is important, since some ways are healthier than others. Some very healthy ways to manage stress are to go for a walk, sit quietly and breathe, read a book, listen to music or pray.  

Join Brown and Santiago Wednesday, April 8, 2020, at 12:30 p.m. CDT at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/healthy-relationships/. Please plan to join this meeting 10 minutes prior in case the Connect application must be downloaded. The meetings continue April 15, 29, May 6, 13, 20, and 27. Take this step to elevate your relationship.

Other Resources

Iowa Concern, offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, provides confidential access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. With a toll-free phone number, live chat capabilities and a website, Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge. To reach Iowa Concern, call 800-447-1985; language interpretation services are available. Or, visit the website, https://www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/, to live chat with a stress counselor one-on-one in a secure environment. Or, email an expert regarding legal, finance, stress, or crisis and disaster issues.

211 is a free, comprehensive information and referral line linking Iowa residents to health and human service programs, community services, disaster services and governmental programs. This service is collaborating with the Iowa Department of Public Health to provide confidential assistance, stress counseling, education and referral services related to COVID-19 concerns.  

Photo credit: Halfpoint/stock.adobe.com 

For more information: Contact Anthony Santiago at 515-294-7042 or (cell) 515-291-0452, or David Brown at 515-294-0860 or (cell) 515-298-1505.

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