We are social creatures who gravitate towards companionship and relationships to find happiness and love. Partnerships nurture our need for compassion, physical touch, love, and acceptance. We need communication, laughter, guidance, and it all comes from the bonds we create with people who accept us as we are and make us feel comfortable. But what happens when that’s not the case? What if our relationships are not full of love and security, but of jealousy, hate, anger, and mistrust? The first thing that happens is that our body changes in negative ways. Relationship stress is one of the most common and dangerous forms of stress as it can be chronic and hard to address. It can affect us internally at cellular levels wreaking havoc on our bodies and leaving us feeling overwhelmed, fatigued, anxious, even depressed. Stress of any kind is not a joke and must be addressed immediately.
Here are the top ways to deal with relationship stress when it hits:
First, Find the Source of Stress
Stressors will put a strain on you and your relationship regardless of where they come from. Spend time pinpointing the sources of stress that are affecting your life and isolate them each on their own. Stress could derive from many factors including work, finances, family, and partnerships. Once you discover where the stress is coming from, work on eliminating it or making major changes in your life. If it is work dissatisfaction, find a new job. If finances are an issue, work with your spouse on budgeting. If family life is too busy, try to eliminate and slow down. Whatever the issue may be, sourcing it just gives you an easier way to handle the stressful situation and make the necessary changes you need to keep yourself and your relationship healthy.
Learn to Give Responses, Not Reactions
When you are dealing with stressful issues, it is important to communicate properly with your significant other. The difference between a reaction and a response is the intensity and emotional annotation. The old adage “think before you speak” rings very true here. If you react to a comment with anger and sarcasm, you are providing a reaction that can turn the conversation into a game of table tennis rather than the pursuit of a solution. Some great tactics include:
- Avoid judging and blaming your partner just because you are angry. Focus on future goals rather than past failures. If for example, you feel your partner never partakes in household chores, instead of complaining about past actions, take the opportunity to ask for help in the future.
- Do not take make it a point to invalidate opinions and statements in attempts to “win” an argument. Proving yourself right is not good for a team, only for one’s ego.
- Don’t use words as weapons and shields. When we are angry we tend to speak in patterns of aggression and defense, and both should always be avoided. Work on expressing statements using positivity and equality.
Loving unconditionally includes accepting and trusting your partner exactly as they are. You chose your partner for “better or worse”, with all their faults and weaknesses. Stress in a relationship can come from high expectations that are never met, expecting things that your partner can not provide. Acceptance means forgiveness. If your relationship matters, than you shouldn’t hold grudges, and use proper communication to talk through mishaps.
Give Each Other Space
Sometimes the best thing you can do when stress hits a relationship is to back up and take some time apart. A relationship is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week interaction that sometimes needs a break. It's perfectly fine and even beneficial to engage in activities alone without your partner. Enjoying independence has been known to make a relationship stronger.
Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve personal and relationship stress. It pumps up the endorphins, the body’s “feel good” neurotransmitters. It increases mood by calming and clearing the mind. Exercise can increase self-confidence by making you look and feel better, relax you, improve sleep, and lower risks for anxiety and depression. Feel the tension rising in your relationship? Make sure exercise is part of your daily routine. If you feel a bit of irritation developing within yourself at something your partner may have done, go for a jog.
Make Some Time For Nature
Research has proven that spending time in and around nature and greenery is good for your mental health. Fill the house with plants, take walks in nature, and watch sunsets on the beach as often as you can. This can also be a great way to spend time together in a peaceful setting allowing you and your partner to reconnect.
Bottom line? Relationship stress and stress in all forms are dangerous for everyone. It is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Learning how to properly deal with stress can make relationships stronger and lower the risk of stress-induced health ailments such as heart attacks, inflammation, hypoglycemia, and many GI disorders. By nurturing your relationships, you are in turn nurturing yourself.
Written by Angela Christu