Over the years, “stress” has inevitably become a consistent part of daily living for many individuals. Personally, “stress” had historically been affecting my health. Indirectly, however, it had also been influencing how my significant other and I managed to maintain our relationship with the strain of stressful life events. I utilize the word “stress” in quotations because it manifests in many forms, including pressures of/from school, family, personal beliefs/persecutions, medical issues and financial concerns, as some important illustrations. These stressors affect many worldwide – and it is up to each of us to decide how to counteract the effects that stress can cause. For those in relationships, stress can be a major source of conflict if not appropriately confronted/handled.
I battled for years to find a routine and/or ways to offset the strains. Personally speaking, my husband had to endure my entire education (2 Masters Degrees and a Doctorate) and the medical issues that ensued – mainly caused by my stress. My husband, on the other hand, had other stressors that affected him negatively as well. Together, we had to compromise, plan and offer as much support to one another as possible. Without these elements, our relationship would not have been as successful. Exercise, communication and surrounding myself with friends/family were the ways I effectively have been managing “stress”. At times, I also continue to meet with my long-time, go-to couple, Ben & Jerry, for some immediate, but temporary, stress-relief.
As far as relationships are concerned, I stress the importance of communication. No one understands your situation besides you. It relates to the frequently spoken saying, “Walk a mile in another person’s shoes”, especially before one judges another’s life situation. In a relationship, if you are not open and honest with one another, and the communication aspect is non-existent, how can a relationship exist or persist in a healthy fashion? Stress can be positive and negative, for it drives us, motivates us and can make us successful in our chosen endeavors. Consequentially, be careful to not let the stress consume you to the point that it is negatively impacting your ability to go about your daily routine, damaging your health or causing conflict in relationships with yourself/others and/or your job/career.
There was a time when the lack of communication was a concern early on in our relationship. My career focused on psychology and education while his was business oriented. Now that the lines of communication are open, we are able to problem-solve, conceptualize alternatives/plans and be compassionate towards one another’s feelings/emotions – as a TEAM. It is important in our relationship that we talk about the good, the bad and the ugly – to put everything on the table so that we can understand one another and maybe even help to resolve some issues/concerns. Family walks have also aided in stress relief as well as our thirty-minute “re-cap sessions” at the end of the workday. No matter what, I always plan thirty-minutes a day of pure “me” time – NO work, NO stress. One day on the weekend is dedicated to family – again, NO work. It is true what they say….life is short. Surround yourself with love, laughter and reinforcements. You have to discover a coping strategy that works for you and your partner.
A long time ago, I did not realize how much stress had been impacting me. For the better part of a decade, juggling my education and employment with various companies were the main sources of stress for me. Looking back on the ER visits, headaches, illnesses, arguments with my husband and bouts of insomnia, I didn’t schedule enough “me” time and did not adopt effective coping strategies. Now, I have become an expert in my own adaptation of stress-management. I advise each of you to be aware of your life situation and do not let stress consume you as a person. There is always time for “you”, time for engaging in activities to which you enjoy and time to surround yourself with others to brighten your day. You have the power to change things in your life that may be less than desirable. Prioritize, plan and communicate. In a relationship, teamwork is key and imperative. Find comfort in one another and don’t be afraid to have some quality “you” time.