At some point, all relationship are subject to a level of stress. Whether it is an external situation that puts a strain on your day-to-day, or a disagreement that gets out of hand, making an effort to manage the stress in your relationship can help prevent unnecessary damage, some of which may be hard to come back from.
The first step to managing the stress in your relationship is to manage your personal stress. Here are some signs that stress is affecting your relationship, as well as some tips to help lower the level of stress in your life.
Signs of Damaging Stress
As our stress levels increase, we may find ourselves more irritable, especially in response to our partners. If it feels as though every small trespass feels like a major transgression, consider if stress from other areas is bleeding into your relationship. It is often easiest for use to take out our frustrations on those we are closest too, even if it can significantly damage the relationship.
You may also find it difficult to communicate with others. When stressed, it can be difficult to feel empathy and understanding for others, making it more difficult to have positive forms of communication. It can also feel like every comment towards you is intended to be a slight or insult. Stress colors how we see a wide range of personal interactions, which can cloud us to their true intention or nature.
Stress can also manifest in a variety of physical symptoms. Some may experience frequent headaches, jaw pain due to teeth grinding, or feelings of light headedness. Heartburn, stomach aches, and nausea are also common. Other symptoms include, but are not limited to, increased or decreased appetite, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue.
How to Defend Against Stress
In order to prevent stress from damaging your relationship, it is important to take steps to manage it personally. Figure out what makes you feel recharged and relaxed, and work it into your schedule as often as possible. Whether this means a 10 minute walk outside at lunch, performing some deep breathing in a quiet space, spending 150 minutes a week doing moderate exercise, or simply listening to your favorite song, it is important to find ways to get yourself refocused on a regular basis.
In ideal circumstances, you will identify a variety of options that can be worked in during different situations. For example, it may not be possible to stop in the middle of the work day and go for a nice run, but you may be able to close the door to your office, step into an unused conference room, or even sit in your car in order to take a few moments for yourself.
Sometimes, taking a moment to consider another point of view is all we need. Whether this involves speaking with a close friend, a professional counselor, or picking up some new reading material, taking the time to figure out what about your current situation is the source of the stress can be an excellent place to start. For those not interesting in the traditional self-help book, consider some alternatives, such as those by author Karen Salmansohn, who works to inject humor and personality into their works.
Involving Your Primary Physician
While certain symptoms may be signs of stress, they may also be related to other health conditions. If the cause of a symptom is unknown, it is best to consult with your physician. Additionally, if you suffer from certain medical conditions, it is important to speak with your doctor before making changes to your diet or exercise routine.