Let’s face it, life throws many stresses our way. It’s pretty impossible to go through life with zero stress. Even if you are financially stable, fit & healthy and have a loving family around you, other things may occur that are out of your control causing stress and anxiety.
Especially during these uncertain times, worries about losing a job, falling ill or caring for family members are all a possibility. And, even if you are feeling fine, perhaps your partner is struggling to cope? Perhaps they are feeling stressed out, which is making them emotional, irritable, angry and less tolerant of you and the rest of your family?
Stress can have a big impact on relationships and family bonds if left unrecognised and untreated.
Here, we discuss some ways in which you can support a partner who may be struggling with stress and worry. Looking at ways for you to both cope together as a team.
Identify the signs of stress
Everyone reacts differently to stress, and the symptoms will differ from person to person. If your partner is acting differently to usual, then it might be worth doing some investigative work. The symptoms of stress include physical and emotional symptoms, which may occur at different times. Perhaps your partner is struggling to sleep, or drinking more alcohol than usual? Maybe they are eating less or eating more? Do they seem more snappy or tearful than usual? They may be uninterested in the activities they usually love, such as seeing friends or going to the gym.
If you notice any signs, then pick a good moment to gently mention it to them. Make sure this is at a time when they are not tired or busy as it may make things worse. Also, make sure you communicate in a way that is soft and gentle – not alarming or accusing.
Recognise that everyone handles stress in different ways
Just as the symptoms of stress differ between people, the ways in which people deal with stressful situations differ as well. Whereas some people are happy to talk about their stress with others, some will close up and shut themselves off from others, preferring to bottle it up inside.
It’s important to realise that your partner might not feel able to open up to you initially about the way they feel. This is not a sign that they don’t trust you or feel confidence in you. It may simply mean that they are embarrassed or scared to show their true emotions because of the impact it might potentially cause.
Listen without judgement
When we feel stressed, we are often not even seeking advice from others. Sometimes it helps just to be heard and to talk out loud about the issues. Somehow by saying things out loud or writing them down, it helps us to accept things better and to begin to cope better.
If your partner wants to talk then let them. Listening and validating their concerns is a good way to begin. Don’t be tempted to give lots of suggestions and go into ‘fix it’ mode. In some ways, this could confuse them even more and give them, even more, to think about internally.
Do small things to help out
You know yourself that when you are feeling down or upset, it always helps to receive small tokens of love and affection from others. A nice hot bath with candles, offering to take the kids out for a few hours so they can relax, a delicious healthy home-cooked meal or a relaxing neck and shoulder massage. These are all small things that could make a big difference in lowering the stress levels of your loved one.
These small gestures will let your partner know that you are aware of their feelings and that they have your full support.
Help your partner seek outside help if needed
If your partner’s stress level is making it difficult for them to function or causing them to have symptoms of anxiety or depression, then it’s time to seek therapy.
When things are spiralling out of control, one of the most generous things you can do is to help your partner recognise this and suggest that they speak to a professional therapist who can help them further.
Some people, often males, are more reluctant to consider therapy as an option to help deal with their stress. Therefore, an option would be for you to book a session for yourself to talk about other ways that you might be able to help. Together with a therapist or counsellor, you could come up with a compassionate and effective plan to help your partner.
If you are concerned about your partner or another loved one, then I would love to hear from you. Contact me and we can discuss the various ways in which I can help you both.