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How to stop stress from affecting your relationship

How to stop stress from affecting your relationship

When stress affects our relationships, finding ways to cope with it becomes the first big step


stress, stress and relationship, stress reaction
Representational Image | Shutterstock

Stress can stem from seemingly insignificant events like being stuck in traffic or a long line at the grocery store, as well as from more significant challenges like mounting workloads, family conflicts, or financial troubles.   However, if stress begins to affect our relationships, it becomes crucial to take action. 

Exhausted with work, Anand Gupta, 36, software engineer from Bengaluru, used to come home stressed.   This resulted in him lashing out at his wife, five-year-old child, and the puppy. The tension took their relationship to the brink of separation. “My irritable response to petty things made the situation worse, and I began to blame others, especially my wife, for my problems,” he says. Luckily, counselling helped him take simple steps to reduce stress and improve his relationships with family.  

According to a 2021 research by Rosie Shrout,  social-health psychologist at Purdue University, “One’s stress can be contagious, particularly to those close to one.” The study gives an insight on how stress affects relationships and health. It states that marital stress can also alter endocrine, cardiovascular, and immune function—key pathways from troubled relationships to poor health.  

Sharon D’leema, clinical psychologist and emotional wellness coach, YourDOST, an online counselling in Bengaluru says, “Stress is an inevitable part of our lives. However, that does not mean we absorb stress all the time and let it overpower us and affect our lives in any aspect.”  

 She suggests some tips to prevent stress from affecting our relationship:  

  • Set boundaries with people around us.
  • Regulate behaviour, emotions, and thoughts in the pursuit of long-term goals. This can be achieved through abdominal breathing, meditation.
  • Have a routine that includes leisure time.
  • Avoid bottling up feelings and communicate with family and friends. According to a 2003 study published in the American Psychological Association, increased levels of stress hormones were detected when newlyweds used critical words, sarcasm, unpleasant tones, and irritating facial expressions in a fight.  This comes with  higher inflammation, blood pressure, and  greater variations in heart rate.  

Aditi Tulshyan, marriage and family counsellor and certified trauma therapist at XpressIt Mental Health Services, North Delhi says, “Stress is a physiological response to an event, which can have positive or negative effects. But by being mindful of it, we can help those around us remain unaffected.” 

Tulshyan’s tips on bonding:  

Prioritise intimacy in the relationship: Couples should set a fixed time of around 5-10 minutes to talk and connect with each other daily. Whether it is over a cup of coffee in the morning, a glass of wine or a cup of tea in the evening, or walking the dog together, make sure to get some quality time together each day.  

Identify your stressors: External stressors (stress that comes from the environment, relationship/financial problems, major life changes, pressure from work) by one or both partners can cause distress in their relationship. This stress can interfere with their ability to communicate, emotionally connect, and handle conflicts.  

Communicate: Communicate with your partner about everything, both good and bad. Treat your partner as your best friend.   

Dress up: Dress up for each other and for yourselves as it releases the happy hormones.   

Plan couple activities to stay connected: Ask your partner about their day, and plan regular date nights and activities you both enjoy such as dancing, yoga, meditation and so forth.  

Set and pursue goals: To bring about the changes you want, set personal goals, and agree on shared goals by discussing about ways to reduce stress and strengthen resilience.   Create a strategy for achieving each goal and a system for keeping tabs on your progress. 

Laugh together: Laughter is a great way to alleviate stress and strengthen relationships. It will also help one to remember one’s initial feelings for the other. Moreover, it lets one to forget that life was not supposed to be taken seriously.  

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