Why Chronic Stress Complicates Relationships and How to Protect Yourself

Expert opinion: negative emotions are contagious and dangerous for love

For a long time, chronic stress, accompanied by internal burnout, was considered a problem for workaholics or managers. Now this physically and mentally debilitating tandem is available to almost everyone, and in order to feel its grim consequences, it is not necessary to sit in the office 40 hours a week. The pandemic, coupled with global uncertainty, keeps us in a tight grip, regularly adding disappointments and turmoil to everyday life. And sadly, constant stress – due to work or for other reasons – negatively affects not only health and mood, but also relationships with people dear to us.

HOW STRESS DAMAGES RELATIONSHIPS

“An excessive sense of responsibility and a tendency to perfectionism is the Achilles heel of modern people. Constantly guided by the word “must”, we become easy victims for emotional burnout caused by chronic fatigue and individual susceptibility, explains psychologist and hypnotherapist. – When hyper-responsibility brings us to the handle, we begin to criticize ourselves for running out of steam, and this is not only absurd, but also cruel. In addition, devotion to the cause robs us of the ability to separate the public from the private, and we carry the stress of work home, putting relationships with loved ones to a serious test.”

Anyone who has had married/marriage experience knows that a serious relationship requires a lot of energy, even if you enjoy sacrificing yourself daily to your great love. As soon as the work begins to pull the lion’s share of attention, the relationship loses its former care. The next stage – you give your partner even less time, justifying yourself with being busy and tired. And then predictably: mental instability combined with a lack of energy lead to irritation and inevitable conflicts.

THE HIDDEN THREAT: STRESS IS CONTAGIOUS!

“Like many other things, the perception of stress depends on human nature: compulsive and hyper-responsible characters are completely covered, while “thick-skinned” and relaxed phlegmatic people are easier to withstand stress”, the psychologist believes. “But what’s especially frustrating is that research confirms that stress can spread to others. Simply put, if you don’t take care of your nerves, stress will spread to those who live with you.”

A few years ago, scientists from Australia proved the phenomenon of stress transmission: people are sensitive to the mood of loved ones and pick up his/her emotional state – just like a virus that ruins everyone’s life for the second year in a row. This is how empathy works when we accept the pain of our neighbor, wanting to support him. The same thing happens with irritation – a spouse wound up at work comes home all on his nerves and, instead of leaving problems outside the threshold, begins to cling to trifles with a sour look. The mood spreads to the perplexed wife – and after some half an hour a full-fledged scandal rages in the house.

Doesn’t sound fun, right? Given the circumstances – at work and in the world in general – it is worth making sure that you do not get infected with stress from those who are dear to you. Let’s say you don’t have the ability to change the pace of your work situation, but at least you have a chance to keep your relationship positive and improve steadily with expert advice.

HOW TO PROTECT FEELINGS FROM STRESS:

1. Share problems, don’t withdraw into yourself. Initially, the partner is silent, sincerely wanting to protect his beloved from the problems that have piled up. Then it becomes a habit, and in the meantime, a huge ball of unreleased emotions is brewing inside, which can explode at any moment – and most likely, a person close to you will be under fire. You should not bring it to an unpleasant breakthrough, in order to avoid which the psychologist recommends staying in touch with a partner “both in sorrow and in joy.” No one, not even the closest person, is able to read your thoughts. Talking about all the problems and disappointments in your life, a win-win situation arises: you feel relieved, and the partner consistently empathizes with what you are going through, fully understanding the situation.

2. Try to find time for each other, free from thoughts about work. You spend a lot of strength, emotions and energy on work – it is fair if your partner gets no less attention. If it’s really melancholy, come up with a schedule so as not to reduce your relationship to joint payment of bills: Monday – a walk in the park, Wednesday – a movie night, Saturday – a party at a friend’s place. Sounds unromantic? It’s better than being stuck in a vicious cycle of overtime. It is important not to overdo it here – during periods of severe exhaustion, you are unlikely to want to dress up as a clown for the sake of the friends’ party and their guests. Focus on activities that require little energy and regularly do something nice/pleasant to each other – at least in words.

3. Be a team. Organizational skills and team building are good in every way. Part of the “deal” should be that one of them can be stressed out and the other one steps in and takes on additional family responsibilities. But this only works if it’s clear to both parties that the “deal” is mutual, these perks reinforce the fundamental stability of any partnership.