Inevitably, life gets stressful. Of course, having a decent chunk of alone time is one of the best ways to feel sane again after a difficult day or week. But when you’re part of a pair, it’s important to find ways to be together and relax at the same time.
Here, find fifty relationship-expert-approved ideas for taking stress levels down a notch with your favorite person in the world.
Whether it’s at home or in a restaurant, a meal sans cell phones can work wonders for your attitude. “It sounds simple, but you can’t imagine how many people allow the distractions of their phones during every part of their day,” says Stephanie Lee, a lifestyle strategist and relationship expert. “Reconnect during a quiet and romantic dinner with your phone OFF. The lack of distraction will nurture good conversation and quality time.”
Getting your heart-rate up is a great way to chill out, and joining in a class is a great way to instill discipline. “This is perfect for the couples who find themselves in the house or at a boring 9-to-5 all day,” says Taylor Henry, s*xual health expert for His & Hers. “Being active is a great stress reliever, and engaging in a mid- to fast-paced activity won’t only get the blood flowing in both of you but also lighten the mood for more intimate activities later.”
“Anniversaries, birthdays, the first time you kissed, promotions—get out there and open some champagne,” suggests Keren Eldad, a certified personal coach and relationship expert. Because who doesn’t like celebrating? Create a holiday called Wednesday Day on the spot and celebrate it with champagne and tacos!
“Yoga is inherently relaxing,” points out Mitzi Bockmann, a certified life coach. So why not give it a try together? Head to a class or if you know what you’re doing, set your mats up at home!
The best way to do something relaxing as a couple is to make sure it’s an activity that’s relaxing for both of you. “Planning an evening of watching a sunset may be perfect for one couple but maddening for another,” notes Dr. Michael Reitano, physician in residence at Roman.
“After sitting at desks all week, a couple may find the most invigorating activity that forms a bond and helps them relax could be playing racquetball or going on a long hike.”
“Adding laughter to your life is just as important as diet and nutrition,” says Julie Wadley, a certified life and relationship coach. “Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Laughter boosts the immune system, burns calories, and triggers endorphins. Couples should find ways to actively add laughter to their time together. Frequent visits to comedy clubs, movie nights, or just plain ol’ knock-knock jokes should do the trick.”
Whatever your game of choice is, kicking back and spending a couple of hours playing it together is a fun way to connect and forget about everyday stresses.
“Do something that neither of you has any known skills at,” suggests Dr. Kathrine McAleese, a sociologist and psychotherapist. “It’ll give you a different perspective on each other and a chance be novices together.
“Choose a s*xy book and read aloud with your partner,” suggests Steena Marie Brown, a s*xual empowerment and relationship coach. “This is especially nourishing if one partner loves verbal attention and love but the other partner feels a bit inadequate at dishing it out.” Not in the mood? You can both read the same book and discuss it, kind of like your very own book club.
Or any other heartwarming show or movie. “This may seem a little silly, but sometimes a good cry is all you need to release that stress realize what’s important in life,” says Joshua Pompey, an online dating and relationship expert. “This Is Usis the ultimate tear-inducing machine.”
While a luxurious vacation might seem like the best way to relax, that’s not always possible. So why not try a staycation instead? “Most people don’t take advantage of all the beautiful things in their own city,” Lee points out. “Unwind through adventure and trying something new in an overnight vacation in your own backyard.”
“Two people, sitting side by side, sipping wine (or anything) is a great form of relaxation,” Bockmann says.
This can be anything, just make sure you go with the flow. “Small adventures can be going to a new neighborhood and trying an unusual restaurant, taking a walk in a direction you haven’t gone before, or even having an at-home film festival,” says Julienne Derichs, LCPC, a licensed clinical professional counselor. “The possibilities are endless if you can let go of needing to be anywhere in particular, for just a few hours.”
A little social interaction is one of the best ways to unwind—even if you do it as a couple. Take the pressure off by meeting your friends at a bar, restaurant, or park instead of inviting them to come over to your house.
“Steal away time to recharge together,” suggests Wadley. “Not only does the secrecy add a level of excitement and anticipation, according to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended short nap (20 to 30 minutes) is beneficial for improved alertness, mood, memory, and performance.”
Yes, really. “If you relax, and then you bring a better self together with the other, helping them to relax,” Eldad says. “What this means is, don’t go home straight from the office. Take a break to have a drink with a pal, go to the gym, meditate, or listen to a podcast before you come in. You will be so much more awesome to be around.”
“Perhaps the best thing to do together is to listen to one another,” Henry says. “Allowing your partner to release and vent everything that got them worked up in the first place is a great step to move forward into full relaxation mode. Both of you getting all the outside interference off your chest will allow you to put it behind you and start fresh with new thoughts and conversations.”
“Pack a bag, get out, and breathe that fresh air,” Wadley recommends. “People who suffer from stress, pain, or low energy can go back to nature in order to rejuvenate and heal. Going hiking, kayaking, or simply walking trails brings a sense of peace and clarity we don’t often get in the hustle and bustle of our day.”
This one might be stereotypical, but that doesn’t make it any less true. “It not only is sensual, but it is fun to fill the tub with bubbles or an aromatherapy bath bomb and enjoy a soak together,”
Go ahead and play hooky, or try this out on a weekend. “Take five deep sighs and relax. Begin talking about what has helped you feel happy today,” Derichs says. “Make sure you turn toward each other, make eye contact, and touch. Feeling connected can lead to making love, which for many couples is relaxing.”
“Pick up some decadent cheeses, salamis, crackers, fancy almonds, and wine that you wouldn’t normally splurge on,” Brown says. “Turn down the lights, light a few candles, and put on some s*xy jazz and just enjoy the sensual experience of sound and taste with your partner. This is especially nice if a date night in is needed because you have young kids, or if you’re just not home much together.”
“Whether you’re crunching leaves on a walk, sitting round a fire pit, or getting windswept at a shore, the sensory aspects of nature, and the quality time away from all technology is restorative,” McAleese notes.
Seriously. “Sitting face to face, simply look into each other’s eyes for five minutes,” Brown recommends. “Having space to just be with each other without chatter or looking at your phones is golden.”
“It is connecting and relaxing to get a foot massage or full body massage with your partner on a table beside you,” Milrad says. “If weather permits, try having the massages outdoors where you are adding another sensory experience into the mix.” If a professional massage isn’t in the budget, go ahead and DIY this idea by giving each other massages.
“When we think of relaxing, often a cozy couch and Netflix are the first to come to mind, but there is much to be gained by going on a walk together,” Lee says. “Being in nature automatically changes our chemical disposition and can have a positive effect on mood.”
Especially if neither of you is an expert bartender. Playing around with different ingredients, taste-testing your creations, and enjoying the winning finished product is sure to take your mind off of everyday stresses.
Romance doesn’t have to be all about s*x. “Turn off the TV, give each other massages and just enjoy each other’s bodies,” McAleese says.
A new, peaceful place can totally revamp your mindset. “If you’re stuck in a bland, white cubicle, replace it with a green leaf foreground. A floor covered with your kid’s toys and undone chores? How about a sandy shore leading off into soothing ocean water?” It doesn’t matter where you go together, just as long as it’s different from what you see day to day.
“Studies show the importance of being in bed with your partner,” notes Chris Brantner, founder of SleepZoo. “75 percent of couples don’t go to bed at the same time. This robs them of intimacy and connection. Couples who don’t go to bed at the same time have less time in serious conversation, shared activities, and s*x. The fact is that time spent in bed before going to sleep can be the most relaxing. In fact, research shows that this cuddle time can leave couples feeling more nurtured and relax.”
Counseling isn’t just for when you’re having relationship problems. “Want to be really creative, and not only destress and relax, but also connect more profoundly than ever before? Go for a coaching workshop,” Eldad recommends. “Relationship workshops get us to relate— to stop and ask the big questions and see ourselves and each other in a new way.”
Even if you’ve had a hectic day, you should be able to squeeze in a few minutes to talk before bed. Just make sure you keep the conversation light. “Don’t start a fight or make big decisions right before bed,” Derichs recommends. “Instead, take turns talking, show genuine interest, communicate understanding and try express a ‘we against others’ attitude. Let your partner know that the two of you are in this together—that you are a team.”
It’s hard not to feel relaxed when you’re watching waves crash, so if you have access to a beach, definitely head there together. “Walking with your loved one, hand in hand, is the ultimate recipe for relaxation,” Bockmann says.
“We live in an age of overstimulation where most of us rarely ever have the opportunity to disconnect from society. It’s time to disconnect,” Pompey says. “Take a ziplock bag, put your phones in it, and connect with your partner on an emotional level that involves zero distractions and good old-fashioned conversation. If you are worried about emergencies back home, break your no phone rule once every few hours to check for missed calls or emergency voicemails.”
Spending time with your partner working on something challenging—that’s a fun challenge—can help you let go of the day’s stress. If traditional puzzles aren’t your thing, try a crossword.
“Take a break from the fast food and enjoy each other’s company with a home-cooked meal,” Henry says. “Whether it’s what you had on your first date, a favorite meal you haven’t had in awhile, or something new you both wouldn’t mind trying, it will bring a well-needed smile to both of your faces.”
Especially if you haven’t done it in awhile.
“Meditation has been credited for relaxation, clarity, and many other things that create peace and a healthy mindset,” Lee notes. “Though it’s often seen as a solo venture, it can be done together to create harmony within your relationship.”
“For couples that need a specific injection of connection, go on a couples retreat,” suggests Wadley. “There are tons of different retreats to suit your fancy; spiritual retreats, adventure retreats, romantic retreats—you name it, there’s one for you.” Not only can this help you chill out and feel more settled in your relationship, but you’ll also meet other couples on a similar journey.
Whether it’s a new car, a fancy coffee maker, or bigger TV, set aside some funds and take a shopping trip to pick out something that will bring you both joy.
Try a class, hit a club, or turn some music on at home. “Dancing, like other forms of exercise, releases endorphins which create a positive feeling in your body,” Milrad says.
Just because you’re hanging out together doesn’t mean you have to talk, and in fact, sometimes it’s better to pick a relaxation activity where neither of you has to speak. Select a podcast you’re both interested in, get comfy, and enjoy.
Massages are great, but massages, pedicures, and facials? Even better. Plan a whole day at a local spa and get pampered together.
Animals give unconditional love to their owners, so taking your dog out to play fetch is guaranteed to be a feelgood experience. No pet of your own? Ask a friend if you can borrow theirs for the day.
Sit down and create your ultimate list of must-do activities for the next few years. Include places you want to travel, singers you want to see in concert, festivals you want to attend—anything you dream about that you can do together.
Exercising together is an awesome way to unwind, but if you want to do something a little more exciting than hitting the treadmill, try a class that neither of you has done before. Whether it’s spinning, CrossFit, or acroyoga, the options are endless.
“In a study developed by Dr. Terri Orbuch, happy couples felt that one of the most important aspects of their relationship was the sense that their partner was there for them,” Wadley says. “In the short period of time we transition from work life to home life—taking off our shoes, putting on our comfortable clothes, and occasionally pouring a glass of wine—there is an opportunity to decompress together. Active listening and open communication is essential here.”
In the car, at home, at a concert—it doesn’t matter. Listen to something you both love and let the music do its work.
“Whether it is cold or warm out, snuggling, being quiet, and looking at the stars shining in the sky can be very relaxing,” Milrad says. Bring a blanket and snack and just enjoy each other’s company. “Sometimes, it is nice to be together in a beautiful setting and just be silent.”
Create a joint venture and put together an indoor herb garden or an outdoor vegetable garden together. Deciding what to grow, tending to your plants, and figuring out how to cook what you’ve grown will provide hours of stress-free bonding time.
Whatever you decide to do to relax with your partner, make sure it’s different from what you always do. “Get out of your normal routine,” McAleese says. “Whether you take a walk on the beach or go to an exotic hotel, breaking the routine is important for your relationship.”