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Stress in Relationships

Very often, we don’t anticipate being stressed – stressful experiences often take us by surprise, and can come out of nowhere. A sudden increase in workload. An unwelcome call from your mum. An unexpected bill. One moment you’re feeling calm and happy, the next, hot, panicky and irritated.

And it can be difficult to be self-aware when it comes to your response to stress. Very often it can feel like these means of expression are slightly outside of your control. Many people find themselves avoiding talking to others and becoming withdrawn without quite realising they’re doing it. Or surprising themselves by becoming suddenly snappy, irritable and unreasonable.

To give a little perspective on this, our coping mechanisms in these kinds of situations are often influenced by what we experienced growing up. If our parents didn’t show care easily, we may have become quite adept at looking after ourselves – indeed, we may have needed to – and so this instinct can kick back in automatically as an adult. Likewise, we often copy the behaviours of our parents and their reactions to stress when we’re younger – so if we saw them lashing out or getting angry in the face of difficult situations, we may end up doing the same ourselves.

Stress can strain relationships, causing partners to withdraw or lash out. Being open about stress can help you both understand and support each other. To communicate stress, be vulnerable and take ownership of your emotions. Partner can offer help by asking “How can I help?” and providing emotional support. 

How Stress can affect Relationships

Communication: Stress can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts in relationships. When individuals are stressed, they may be more irritable, less patient, and have difficulty expressing themselves clearly. This can lead to communication breakdowns and arguments.

Emotional Connection: High levels of stress can make it challenging for individuals to connect emotionally with their partners. They may become more withdrawn, less affectionate, or less responsive to their partner’s needs, which can strain the emotional bond in the relationship.

Intimacy: Stress can also affect physical intimacy in relationships. When individuals are stressed, they may have lower libido, reduced interest in sex, or difficulties in being present and engaged during intimate moments with their partners.

Support: In healthy relationships, partners provide each other with emotional support during times of stress. However, if both partners are experiencing high levels of stress, they may struggle to support each other effectively, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Conflict Resolution: Stress can make it harder for couples to resolve conflicts in a constructive manner. When individuals are stressed, they may be more likely to react impulsively, say hurtful things, or avoid addressing issues altogether, leading to unresolved conflicts and resentment.

It’s important for couples to recognise the impact of stress on their relationship and take proactive steps to manage stress effectively. This may include practicing good self-care, setting aside time for relaxation and connection with each other, seeking support from a therapist or counselor, and learning healthy communication and conflict resolution skills. By addressing stress proactively, couples can strengthen their relationship and navigate challenges more effectively.

Stress Awareness Month April 2024

April is Stress Awareness Month. For Stress Awareness Month 2024, The Stress Management Society, want to emphasise how even the smallest steps taken each day towards self-care and stress reduction can yield significant improvements in mental health over time.

They encourage you to focus on making manageable adjustments to your daily routine. While the impact of small actions on their own may seem little, the cumulative effects of these habits can end up being profound!

Overtime, the accumulation of these small consistent efforts leads to a remarkable outcome!

Taken from

Neurodiversity Awareness Training 

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