Stress can negatively impact relationships – with your partner, colleagues, family, friends, all of your connections with people. People often bottle up or keep their stress to themselves, which makes it difficult for others to understand what they are going through and to provide support. Not dealing with stress can create a negative cycle where people “catch” it from each other. Nobody likes to get this contagious feeling, so let’s discuss why and how to deal with it.

Three Types of Stress

Stress on our bodies can be categorised into three main areas, physical, chemical and emotional stress. The body experiences it, then innately tries to return it to order – resilience. Prolonged exposure to these three has direct effects on how we deal with everyday problems, including the ones involving our relationships.

Effects of Chemical Stress

Chemical stress refers to an imbalance of chemicals in the body, which in turn affects the body’s ability to function efficiently. When you feel threatened, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper.

These effects are natural body responses for emergency reasons. However, prolonged exposure to stress causes exhaustion to the body. This discomfort contributes to our reactions to the people around us.

Effects of Physical Stress

The most notable effects of stress exist on the digestive and immune system, which our body uses as a response to danger. When we’re stressed, we have a reduced immune system’s ability to fight off certain diseases. That is why we are more susceptible to infections. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system.

Stress directly affects how our digestive system works because the gut has hundreds of millions of neurons which can function independently and are in constant communication with the brain. Stress affects brain-gut communication and triggers pain, bloating, and other gut discomforts felt more easily. These adverse effects branch into more problems, which in turn leads to relationship issues.

Effects of Emotional Stress

Emotional stress is a little more self-explanatory and unfortunately considered by many as a normal state of being. Work, family, relationships and lifestyle can all be significant sources of emotional stress which in turn can have an enormous effect on our body’s ability to function well. 

Managing Stress to Maintain Relationships

Experiencing stress doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is going to suffer. Instead, your perception of stress – such as seeing it as a challenge that you can overcome – is essential. Managing stress is an effective way for relationships to know more in-depth about the people involved. We can tolerate short term stress; however, it is long term stress that does the damage.

When all the people involved address stressors, it is the quickest and healthiest way to use stress to improve relationships. It requires a healthy mind to do this properly; that is why I dedicate myself to helping people do the inner work, which manifests into enriched relationships. Let’s face it, having a relationship where one of you is there for the other and responds to the needs helps both of you deal with stress better and makes stress feel less intense. 

There’s power in admitting you could benefit from a professional to help you break out of a depressed state. Breathing and mindfulness exercises, understanding the three triggers of suffering and choosing to cultivate empowering daily routines are strategies to eliminate the negative effects of stress, so you and your partner thrive. Find the combination that works for you, and you’ll be well on your way toward a brighter sense of self. >> ✨

Erena Oliver
Relationship Coach