Meg Luce: Manage your stress so your partner won’t have to
Whether you are worried about the state of the country, reopening your business, paying the rent or catching the virus, there is plenty of stress to go around. Under the ongoing pressures, worn-out couples often dump their stress on each other or the kids. Images of distressing events bombard us; pandemic concerns drag on, and we wonder what we can do. Many people are outraged, anxious and weary about all of the above.
Rather than offload your stress onto your partner, what other options do you have? If you would like to manage stress and tension more productively, here are some ideas to get you started.
Notice What’s Up
First of all, notice what is going on with you. Are you stressed, worried or angry at the world? An awareness of what is happening within you is the first step to address it. This pause will give you other options besides taking it out on your spouse or children or yelling at the television. Stop and take a moment and think, hmm, how am I doing?
Make a Plan
OK, so you’ve figured out how you are doing. You’re anxious, sad or mad as hell. Now what? The next step is to ask, what do I want to do about it? You might want to take some deep breaths, make a plan to call your best friend and rant, go for a run, get to your 12-step Zoom meeting, write your congressperson, join a peaceful protest or take a nature hike. Whatever you would like to do, your partner would probably rather have you take some time than spread your angst around the house. Acting on your plan is so much better than feeling anxious and stuck.
Keep patience in mind. It’s not a “chick thing.” Self-mastery of emotions is strong (and sexy!). It means expressing feelings by you leading them, not allowing them to lead you. If there is an issue you need to address with your partner, go ahead and say it — when you and your partner are ready to have a grown-up conversation. Choose productive words, and remember, you’re not the only one who is enduring stress.
Life feels pretty heavy right now. If you are struggling, reach out. If you see someone else struggling, reach out. Support systems help people cope with stress. During hard times, we can lean on each other as partners, and it is also healthy to find support outside of the relationship. Doing so can alleviate some of the burden of each partner’s stress upon the other. If you are lonely or feeling ungrounded, find someone to talk to. If not a friend or support group, then call a therapist — no need to tough it out by yourself.
We are not in control of so many life events. But we do get to decide how we want to respond to the things that occur. Even during times of high stress, you can tap into your ability to attend to yourself, choose intentional actions, and treat your loved ones with care.
Meg Luce, M.S., is a Marriage and Family Therapist in Grass Valley specializing in helping couples create satisfying relationships. You can find her contact info at https://NevadaCountyTherapist.com
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