Heaney: Couples, prepare for winter’s end (column)
Love in the Mountains
It’s been a strange ski season.
With powder days measured in inches rather than feet, we held out for snowstorms with fingers crossed. But more often we were left with disappointment as the snow moved around our valley and not through it.
With just a few weeks left in the season, locals are on the edge of burnout. Working multiple jobs and recovering from the intensity of spring break crowds, our community becomes a bit worn down. Then you add on the lack of snow and the inability to release stress by gliding through those powdery fields — the tension and stress only accumulates.
As one local told me, “I think it’s particularly stressful because we lose most of our international and seasonal workers mid-March, forcing those who are left to pick up the slack. We’re already end-of-season burnt out, on top of being busier than Christmas during spring break. But with no snow and less staff.”
Common symptoms of stressful burnout are irritability, apathy and exhaustion. You’re quicker to snap, having a shorter fuse than usual. While not feeling rested, even after 10 hours of sleep, you’re left dragging through the day. Injuries, accidents and sickness all become more typical when over stressed. The added element? This all wears on your relationships, especially those closest to you.
Whenever we feel worn down and stretched too thin, the first to feel it are those who matter most to us. We tend to push away or isolate when feeling stressed, effecting those who are connected to us. They care. They worry. They typically feel unimportant or pretty low on your priority list.
How to Protect Your Relationship From End Of Season Stress
Talk about it: open up to your partner about how you’re doing. Attempt to be honest, without defending or getting critical. Resist burying your stress and exhaustion. Your partner needs to hear how you’re doing.
Slow down: you’ve been going, going, going. Our bodies aren’t designed to stay in go-mode. As the season comes to a close, begin a process of unwinding and slowing down. Protect non-activity time and allow yourself to begin to relax.
Prioritize health: With stress we tend to over eat, over drink and do less of what helps our health. Check in and be a touch more mindful of what you’re putting in your body. The short-term feel-good moment of the greasy burger or the apres drinks takes a long-term toll on your body and doesn’t help it repair from the stress it’s been under.
Get away: Begin planning your mud season trip. This will give you and your partner something to look forward to, reigniting excitement and energy.
At the end of the season, refocus and reconnect to what is most important in your life. Some priorities may have gotten lost over the past few months. And that’s OK. Just notice what has fallen out of alignment, and begin to get back on track.
Jessica Heaney is a certified emotionally focused therapist in Vail. She specializes in relationship dynamics, helping individuals and couples strengthen and repair their relationships. For more information, visit http://www.jessicaheaney.com.