Stress and Relationships

Handling Your Stress Is Crucial to Maintaining Your Relationships

When stress gets to be too much for you to handle, you may find yourself railing at those you love, work with and have casual contact with for no reason at all. Eventually, stress can affect your health if you don’t learn how to manage it.

You may spend hours a day dealing with work stressors such as meeting deadlines and catering to the needs of your coworkers and clients. It’s no wonder that stress overflows into other relationships and circumstances when you leave work and finally have the opportunity to vent.

Recent research indicates that work-related stress is the most prevalent cause of unhappiness in other relationships. It becomes a vicious cycle because when you have relationship problems, it also affects your work.

It’s important that you learn how to handle stress in all areas of your life. If not, it can have far-reaching and profound effects on those you love and those you’re around most of the day. And, it can eventually affect your health and well-being.

How Stress Affects Your Behavior

Stress may affect your behavior with yourself and with others in such a way that you may not be able to rescue the relationships. Work stress can hurt your bond with those you love and vise-versa.

You carry work stress home with you because it’s not usually resolved at work and you need a place to vent. That place usually becomes your home and the person is usually your spouse or loved one.

Even though it may not be your intention, the person you’re venting to about work may feel like he is being attacked. It can hurt the bond with your partner in many ways – even in the bedroom – by killing your libido.

Stress can make you have a shorter fuse, so that you blow up about little things in a way that intimidates others. Your partner, kids and others around you will probably start to avoid being around you.

Your behavior at work may also change because of work or relationship stress. Work related stress can come from many areas – co-workers, clients, long and annoying traffic commutes and deadlines that never seem to ease up.

Stressors in relationships such as finances, love on the rocks, lack of sleep and anxieties that are natural results of being in relationships and having kids can also wreak havoc on how you handle stress.

Too much stress may affect your mood and cause a lack of focus or motivation in your everyday plans. You may also feel overwhelmed, restless, anxious, sad or depressed. Irritability with others may ensue and could lose the ability to carry on a conversation about the stress because of anger and mood swings.

Stress may also cause you to turn to alcohol, drugs or cigarettes. Or, you may binge eat or not eat at all, causing serious nutrition-related health problems. Social withdrawal is also a problem that occurs when stress is overwhelming.

When these red flags begin to appear and you feel your relationships crumbling in front of you, it’s time to think about ways to manage the stress, salvage relationships and prevent the stress from turning into chronic health problems.

How Stress Impacts You and Others

You’ve experienced it before. You’re having a perfectly wonderful day and then someone’s irritability and negativity impacts your happy mood and makes a dark cloud cover your day.

It’s called secondhand stress, and you can be a victim of it – or be the cause of it for others. Negativity and grumpiness is contagious and the stress is passed on to others like a virus that makes you sick.

Unless you revel in the fact that you can change someone’s day from happy to irritable, it’s best to know ways you can manage your own stress before it becomes someone else’s.

Stress is normal and can be positive. It makes the adrenalin flow when you need it to meet deadlines and be somewhere on time, but it can also make you anxious, angry and affect your health over time.

If your stress is getting to the level that it’s affecting you and the people around you, some stress-management techniques are in order. Stress-management techniques come in many forms, and it’s up to you to find one that works for your particular psyche.

Your stress may come from worrying about your physical health. When you have health problems, it’s sometimes difficult to put a smile on your face and deal with other people. But, you can get help for dealing with them and healing and not force that stress on others.

Learn to identify your triggers of stress. Triggers might include traffic jams, rudeness of people you’re dealing with, loud noises or even conversations about subjects you feel strongly about. When you know what your triggers are, think about how they make you feel – both emotionally and physically.

When you develop coping skills to deal with stress, you’ll be able to calm your mind and body when one of these stressors threatens to destroy your mood. As you continue to develop stress-management techniques, you’ll be able to nip it in the bud before your mood changes and it affects your relationships.

When Stress Strikes – Dealing with It

Before stress overcomes all your good intentions of maintaining a good mood and a great outlook on life, you should know some techniques for how to deal with it. It may take practice, but eventually, you’ll be able to quickly gain control with some of the techniques you learn.

Visual imagery and deep breathing exercises can help when you’re annoyed with traffic, circumstances beyond your control – like standing in line and a co-worker that’s chatting in the break room rather than working to meet a deadline.

Together, these two techniques will physiologically calm your nerves by increasing oxygen to the brain. You’ll be able to focus and think with clarity rather than letting your temper get out of hand and affect others.

Become self-aware about the situations in your life that can stress you out. It may be others who are to blame for your stress – but you don’t have to catch the stress virus so that it will affect others in your life.

Besides deep breathing and visual imagery, you can keep stress from becoming overwhelming by assessing your expectations of the world. For example, you may expect traffic to run smoothly during rush hour, but realistically, that’s not likely to happen.

When you base your expectations of the world in ways that don’t reflect reality, you’ll be disappointed, surprised and stressed. So, you know there will likely be traffic. What can you do to counteract the effect?

Listening to a self-motivation book or calming music might be the answer to being stuck in traffic. With all the modern technology that’s available in our cars today, it shouldn’t be too difficult to use something that gets your mind off being stuck.

Practice gratitude thinking. When you’re grateful, dopamine is released in the brain. Dopamine is the happiness hormone that works to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol.

When you take a negative situation and reframe it with a positive attitude, the serotonin hormone is released by the brain. Serotonin is the calming hormone that can quickly balance your feelings and mood swings.

For example, failing to meet a goal can be reframed in a way that teaches you something valuable rather than making you think of the situation as a failure. The most successful people in the world have learned the most from their failures in life.

When you’re stressed, your energy level plummets. Exercise can help to put endorphins back in the body to shore up energy levels – and a healthy diet can boost the affects that exercise offers.

Words are the most powerful form of communication we can use with others. When you choose to use positive words the hormone, oxytocin, is released – helping you to build social ties and promote optimism when dealing with others.

Choosing to manage your mental health in a positive manner can help you react to stressful situations in a more positive manner. Those around you will respond by being happy to see you and be around you. You will be happier and healthier when you’re surrounded by successful relationships.

How to Maintain Boundaries Between Work and Personal Life

Boundaries are important to set between your work and personal life to keep stress levels down and life running as smoothly as possible. If they’re so important, why do so many of us have difficult in setting them?

Even at home, when you should be devoting your time to personal or family pursuits, you may feel that you have to answer work emails or working on a project that needs more of your time.

Or, your personal life might trickle into your work. For example, you may do some personal, online shopping during work hours – or take off early to go to your child’s game. If this happens often, you risk losing hours of productivity and your status in the work place.

Failing to set and maintain boundaries between work and home can be lethal. While there are bound to be discrepancies and lines may become blurred at times. Time management is the all-important tool in ensuring that one part of your life doesn’t become too enmeshed in the other.

When you determine to manage your time to get everything done, it involves creating a schedule. You’ll have everything in writing that sums up the boundaries between work and home and the guidelines are easy to see and understand.

Research shows that those people who write down daily tasks tend to be eighty percent more likely to achieve their goals. For example, when you have a schedule that lists five work tasks you must accomplish for that day, cross each off as you accomplish them to get more of a productive vibe.

After you have your daily, weekly and monthly schedule, communicate to others in your life (work and home) your intentions. Be clear that you expect to have these boundaries met and it’s more likely that others will conform.

If your work colleagues have become used to you communicating with them on weekends, state in no-uncertain terms that you won’t be available because you’re devoting your weekends to family time. You won’t feel the guilt associated with ignoring coworkers because they’ll know your plan.

Make yourself accountable for the boundaries you set. Ask for help from others if needed – like asking your colleagues to remind you of your commitment to your family on the weekends if you should call to discuss work.

Check yourself from time to time to tune in to what’s really happening in your life. Are you enjoying it more because you’ve set boundaries and are keeping them strong? If not, look at what’s happening in your life and take steps to renew and reset the boundaries.

We’re not all alike – so keep your limitations in mind and know that your boundaries won’t be like everyone else’s. It may not be practical to schedule one night per week of only relaxation – especially if you have kids with busy schedules.

You won’t do everything perfectly in the quest to balance your home and work lives. You’ll check your email sometimes when on vacation, and peruse Facebook when at work sometimes.

When it becomes difficult to draw the lines between work and your personal life, stress may begin to affect relationships, work and your personal health. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs of stress (and second hand stress) in your life before it becomes overwhelming.

By using stress management techniques and setting appropriate boundaries between work and home life, you will finally be able to move forward and become successful on your own terms by working with others rather than working against them.

Setting healthy boundaries at work and home makes it possible to build your self-esteem and get rid of fears that have kept you from being successful in the past. You’ll be honoring yourself and able to develop healthier connections with others in life.

Recognize your limitations and work within those lines. Set the boundaries between work and home that work best for you. Know that the boundaries you set aren’t cast in stone and change them when necessary. Eventually, you’ll find a plan that works for you.

And always act from a place of love rather than fear. Love for yourself can help you set healthy boundaries that will make you a better person at work and relate better in all your relationships.