women

Is your stress affecting your family? Ask us.

It's a vicious circle really... you rush to get up in the morning, feed the family, get yourself ready for work and get the kids off to school, before sitting and snarling at the traffic on the way to your first meeting. You then walk into the house after a stressful day at work, having spent an hour in traffic just to get home (don't even get you started on those inconsiderate drivers hogging the road). You know that ahead of you is the kids' homework, making dinner and getting everyone off to bed, so that you can wake up and do it all over again. You quietly simmer and seethe as you stand hunched at the kitchen counter, stress radiating off you. Tightly coiled, you are ready to pounce. Your partner marches in, makes a seemingly innocuous comment: "Oh, dinner isn't ready yet?" And all hell breaks loose. You are grumpy, your partner is grumpy and the kids equally so. Sound familiar?

Description: Women Stress

Cracking up

 

You have just fallen into the stress pool, the ripple effect of which has far-reaching consequences. Stephanie Sterner of www.make-a-change-with-stephanie.co.za explains that stress has a major impact on all of our relationships. "When we're feeling stressed a number of things happen. We don't think as clearly as usual, so we're more likely to misinterpret the intentions of others. We're also more likely to think that things are worse than they are. Our ability to make good decisions is diminished. And all this just leads to more stress."

Stress is a selfish and rather self-serving emotion, and Sterner explains that as our stress levels increase, so we become more self-centered, asking ourselves questions like, "Why doesn't my partner cut me some slack right now?", "Why can't the kids see that I need some peace and quiet?", "Why aren't my friends supporting me?"

Probably, because in that moment, we fail to see that those around us are experiencing the same, if not similar emotions, explains counseling psychologist Lorenzo Stride.

Stride adds that in this moment, and at this time, we can become resentful of the situation, and in turn, of our partner. We feel overwhelmed, unloved and unappreciated. Something that may have been seemingly small and even manageable now becomes a towering, festering obstacle. "And this then rolls into the bedroom. Having not spoken or communicated all night, your partner now starts making the move, which is quickly rejected and your partner is left not understanding what he has done."

Adds Sterner: “All of this means that we're less understanding, less patient and more critical in our relationships. And, since we tend to get back what we give, those around us are less understanding, less patient and more critical with us. Those who are less emotionally affected by the changes in us, may simply back off and give us some space until we're back to normal. It's important to recognize this for what it is and not interpret it as rejection."

And often, because we ourselves are knee-deep in our own anxiety - we fail to recognize that our partner is perhaps experiencing the selfsame emotions. Says Sterner: "If your partner is also stressed, they are likely to also become more self-centered and pessimistic. You're more likely to get into arguments about things that really don't matter You're also more likely to blame each other for the way you're feeling."

So, we understand the context and situation, and we (even) recognize it. But what now? It is not as if you can simply will away the stress of today's busy lifestyle, now can you? "No," says Stride. "But you can change your own perception and the way that you deal with your stressors."

Sterner agrees. "Once we become aware that we're stressed, we can begin to respond differently. Managing the way we respond to others is a way of respecting our relationships."

Stride recommends that days when things are just getting too much, when you are irritated and frustrated and anxious, those are the days that you plan something special for your partner. Suggest going out for dinner, stop on the way home and get his favorite treat, or simply, instead of immediately venting about your day the moment you walk in the house - rather make a him a cup of tea or coffee and sit for a few minutes. “Do the things that you wish someone would offer or do for you," says Stride. This simple act of kindness will result in a similar act of gratitude. "By doing this, and asking how the day was, you open up the lines of communication. By listening or being open to your partner's stressors, he will be more open to yours."

Instead of the cycle of stress or frustration perpetuating, rather a cycle of gratitude and kindness starts. The first step back.

“When we feeling stressed a number of things happen. We don't think as clearly as usual, so we're more likely to misinterpret the intentions of others”

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