How to relieve stress in a relationship

7 ways to manage relationship stress | Health & Wellness Services

Following public health agency recommendations like self-quarantine and social distancing can cause our stress levels to spike, and our relationships may be the first in line to feel the impact. Whether we are feeling lonely, tired, overwhelmed or irritable (or a combination), it’s important to know how to manage our stress to help maintain our relationships. Here are some tips to help you navigate conflict while in isolation with your roommates, family or housemates.

#1: Know your conflict style

When you have a disagreement with someone, what do you do? Do you tend to ignore the problem or avoid the person? Do you confront them right away? Do you look for compromise?

Everyone approaches conflict differently. When addressing conflict, it can be helpful to know your own style as well as your roommate or family member’s style. Knowing how you both address conflict can help you find common ground and navigate where your styles may clash. Take this quiz to learn more about your conflict style.

#2: HALT

We’ve all been there: your family member says the wrong thing or a roommate forgets to take out the trash, and after a long week you’re ready to snap at them. If it feels like this is about to happen, press pause. This is the moment to take a deep breath and check in with yourself using the HALT method.

  • H: Are you hungry? If the answer is yes, grab yourself a snack to help relieve any “hangry” feelings. It can also help you feel more energized and improve your mood.
  • A: Are you angry? If the answer is yes, it’s important to identify why and ways you can address it. Are you upset about who controls the TV remote or is it really something else? Take a step back and allow yourself time to process your emotions. Journaling can be a helpful way to explore what’s really bothering you. Once you’ve identified the root of your anger or frustration, let yourself calm down and brainstorm ways to address it in a healthy way. This may mean you need to create space for yourself, take a walk, get more sleep or talk through things with someone you trust.
  • L: Are you lonely? Being lonely doesn’t necessarily mean you’re alone. Even if you’re around other people, you can still feel distant, isolated, withdrawn or disconnected. If you experience any of these emotions, it may be time to reach out and have a conversation about what you’re going through with someone you trust. Even if you’re upset with your roommate or family member in the moment, sharing what is stressing you out and what you’ve been dealing with may help you feel better and reconnect.
  • T: Are you tired? You may feel tired physically, but are you also mentally exhausted? If so, it may be time to take a break, do a quick meditation, stretch, lie down or simply close your eyes and take a deep breath.

#3: Have a conversation (face-to-face)

The HALT method doesn’t replace discussing issues that may exist in our relationships. Having that discussion face-to-face, whether that means in person or over video, is important. Talking over text or social can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings that may make the situation worse. If you’re upset, talk with your friends, family, roommates or significant others about your stress and what you need from these relationships to get through it. That being said, snapping or responding with words and actions you may later regret can add to your stress levels and make it more difficult to deal with things later on.

Instead, plan ahead. When approaching a tough conversation, preparing in advance can be helpful. Planning ahead assures you are able to share your views and hear the other person’s perspective more effectively. Take some time to think about what you hope to accomplish from the conversation. Consider what an ideal outcome looks like, how you will know it’s time to take a break and what assumptions you may be making about how your roommate or family will respond.  

Before starting a potentially stressful conversation, it’s important to check in with ourselves about what we’re experiencing and what might realistically happen, so we can prepare emotionally. When you feel prepared to begin the conversation, find a time that works for everyone to talk without distractions. Explain why you want to have this conversation and share what you hope to accomplish.

If things become heated or escalate, it can be difficult not to say something we may regret down the line. In these situations, use de-escalation tactics to bring everyone back to the facts, reiterate why this conversation is important and how you value the other person. If volume ticks up, use your voice to bring it back down. Take a deep breath before speaking and ask for a break if needed. You can return to the conversation after everyone has time to cool off. 

#4: Reflect on the conversation

While it would be nice, change doesn’t happen overnight. Conversations don’t always resolve the way we’d like, and more often than not, seeing progress requires a series of conversations and a willingness to keep trying. If things feel like they’re unresolved, let the person know that you appreciate their time and you’d like to follow up with them in the future. Give them some time and space before engaging again. If things are resolved more quickly, share your appreciation and gratitude with the other person and let them know you value their help and input.

#5: Continue to check in with yourself

Make it a habit to check in with yourself. Look for signs of stress and acknowledge your needs in the moment using HALT (you can also try journaling or asking yourself specifically how you are feeling about your classes, relationships, news consumption, etc.). Once you can recognize what your triggers and responses are, you will be better suited to handle stressful situations in a positive way.

#6: Connect with others

It’s important to remember that we won’t be in isolation or asked to participate in social distancing forever. Make time to reach out to friends or classmates to catch up. If you are feeling the stresses of being at home, focus on creating an amicable relationship. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate or get along with your family all the time, but respecting one another and your differences can go a long way in improving your experience.

#7: Ask for help

If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed, students can contact Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) for a free online walk-in appointment by calling 303-492-2277.

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Love, factually: 11 tips for reducing relationship stress

This Valentine’s Day, give your sweetheart the gift of relationship serenity. These research-backed tips will help you work in tandem to navigate life’s bumpy roads.

Every relationship goes through its ups and downs, its twists and turns. Adding stress from work, school, family, money and health can make the daily bumps in the road feel like a rollercoaster ride in a relationship.  

How can you help your relationships, romantic or not, stay healthy and meaningful in today’s high-stress, fast-paced environment? ASU’s own scientific Cupid, Ashley Randall, an associate professor of counseling and counseling psychology in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, examines how couples can cope with stress in the context of relationships. Her research investigates the impact of stressful experiences on individual well-being and couples’ emotional regulation. 

Based on her expertise and research experience, Randall wants you to keep these things in mind as Valentine’s Day nears.

1. Even if you’re single, keep reading

All relationships, romantic or not, can benefit from reflection. Randall says that roommates, co-workers and friends can maintain their relationships similarly to romantic partners because they contain many of the same key ingredients. 

(Note: Throughout this story, the word “couple” refers to any paired relationship.)


Know when to leave it at the door

Stress outside of a relationship commonly manifests as stress inside of a relationship if the stress is not compartmentalized properly.

“Stress that we experience outside of our relationship impacts the relationship even if we’re not thinking about it or recognizing that it does,” says Randall. 

Randall encourages partners to recognize whether a stressor is external (originating outside the relationship) or internal (originating inside the relationship), work to identify where the stress comes from and then cope with it appropriately. Bringing stress that is rooted in friendships, work, school, etc. into the relationship can create a spill-over effect that creates or worsens relationship problems. 
So, if your coworker was annoying at work today or the traffic on the way home was atrocious, recognize this and try to communicate this stress in a way that your partner can hear instead of taking it out on your partner.  


Step into their shoes, not on their toes

Though you haven’t gone through the same trials and tribulations as your partner, Randall affirms that partners can still connect with the sentiments and feelings surrounding a situation to help navigate through hardships together. 

"Someone does not have to have the same lived experience to provide the support their partner needs. It really falls on the basis of understanding,” says Randall. “Partners should connect with the feelings that arise from the situation, not necessarily the situation it stems from.”

4. Replace ‘I’ with ‘we’

When couples, friends or colleagues use plural pronouns to talk about their relationship, it is a good indicator of a shared identity. 

“Couples are able to help one another cope with stressors when they are able to conceptualize the stressor or challenge as something they both have to face together,” says Randall. “Couples that are able to do this [using ‘we’ language] have better outcomes.

She adds: “Unity is key.”

5. Identify your stress language

You might know your love language, but do you know your “stress language”? 

Upwards of 93% of human communication is non-verbal. Body language, facial expressions, auditory sounds and written communication methods can all convey stress without a word having been spoken. 

“If I come home after a long, stressful day of work and I am avoiding conversation and am not able to verbalize that stress, I am still communicating my stress in other ways,” says Randall.

The key is understanding how you communicate your stress and how your partner communicates their stress to facilitate effective communication despite any differences between these “stress languages.”

6. Put your phone down

People are constantly on their phones texting, scrolling through Twitter or Instagram and checking the latest news and emails. People’s increasing reliance on their phones is proving detrimental to relationships.

The problem is so rampant it has a term, technoference — the mere presence of technology decreasing perceptions of relationship quality between individuals.

And for those of us who think multitasking is possible, the science begs to differ. It takes more than 60 seconds for someone to refocus on a conversation after engaging with technology in any form.

“Because we are constantly immersed with technology, we are not having those quality interactions that would be happening if we were sitting face to face,” says Randall. “Put away your cell phones, be present and truly engage in conversation.”

7. Ensure that communication is a two-way street

In real estate it’s all about location, location, location. In relationships it’s all about communication, communication, communication. But what does good communication in a relationship actually entail? 

“Healthy communication is being open and honest with whoever you are with,” says Randall. 

But speaking openly is only half of the equation. Partners also need to open their ears.

“I can communicate my stress, but if people are not actively listening to me, this isn’t very helpful and constructive. The other person needs to be responsive to whatever it is you are communicating,” she notes.

8. Take a hint from the Rolling Stones

When communicating with your partner, you won’t always hear or feel what you want, but you might find you get what you need.

Randall affirms that good communication doesn’t always present itself as a pleasant conversation where each partner agrees with what the other is saying. Rather, validating each other’s experiences and reflecting together on the deeper meaning of what each person is conveying and moving forward to understand each other's needs is what is important. 

9. Lend an ear, not advice

Randall says that when a person complains about a problem or situation, it’s often not about the problem itself, but rather the underlying emotions tied to the situation. Therefore, rather than offering a suggestion on how to fix the problem, provide space for your partner to talk and feel heard.  

10. Dig for the deeper questions

What is the top thing that couples fight about? You may be thinking it could be finances, family, work or even health. None of these are correct.  

Whether it’s a fight that spiraled from deciding what show to watch or not putting down the toilet seat — again, these arguments are often spurred by minor disagreements that aren’t problems in and of themselves. Rather, they represent bigger issues.

“When a couple is arguing about what movie to watch, it often snowballs into ‘you don’t respect my choice’ and ‘you are not listening to me,’ says Randall.” “If you think about it, at the core of these fights is the question ‘are you there for me?’”

Randall encourages couples to look beyond the surface level spats that may occur on a day-to-day basis to resolve the issues deeper down in a relationship. By not sweating the small stuff and instead using energy to uncover and address deeper problems, couples can create a more transparent and effective relationship in the long run.  

11. Recognize your position

While working through these tips, Randall encourages you to check your personal position in our social, cultural and economic systems. 

As part of her current research, Randall focuses on how external stressors impact relationships for individuals who have a marginalized status. Her lab has found that people of color, women, LGBT couples and other minority populations experience stress at disproportionate rates compared to individuals with perceived privilege.  

“Individuals with marginalized status can experience additional external stressors due to their marginalization in society, such as experiencing discrimination based on one’s sexual or gender minority status. Additional research is needed regarding the long-term effects of these experiences, especially for relationship well-being.”

Randall’s lab has collected pilot data from individuals who hold multiple minority statuses and their partners, including twenty-one same-gender female couples, in which one partner experienced clinical levels of symptoms of depression. They are currently analyzing the data and will be releasing results in the next few months. 

To learn more about Randall’s relationship research, visit the Couples Coping with Stress Lab website.

10 Ways to Cope with Stress in a Relationship

The more effectively each partner copes with stress, the less likely the relationship is to end. In addition, the better two people cope with stress together (for example, by discussing negative experiences, allowing the other person to talk, etc.), the more cohesiveness in the relationship they will be able to achieve.

Of course, you cannot prevent stressful situations in your partner's life. However, you are able to prevent a quarrel with a partner because of stress! Below are practical tips that will help you look at the problem from different points of view and eliminate it. nine0003

How do you deal with your own stress?

1. Understand how stressed you are. Finding out what exactly caused you stress will help you collect your thoughts and direct your strength to fight the root cause. Think about what makes you feel overwhelmed and write it down on a piece of paper. To see a problem written down on paper means to recognize and already half solve it. Start coming up with a plan to get rid of the problem completely. nine0003

2. Increase the amount of positive emotions. No matter what causes you stress, feelings of joy, gratitude, satisfaction and love will help you cope with any difficulties. You don't have to start a new and challenging hobby to do this - who has the time for that? Sometimes it is enough to turn on your favorite music to start feeling good. Before going to bed, instead of the usual thoughts about your troubles, think about the good things that happened to you during the day. It can be a great practice to keep a gratitude journal where you write down every day everything you can be grateful for in life. nine0003

3. Find a calming activity. Do you feel persistent anxiety or depression? Try to calm yourself and clear your thoughts with an activity that relaxes you. Maybe it's meditation? Coloring book for adults? Fragrant bath? Evening walk with the dog?

4. Take care of yourself. Stress can put you in a vicious circle of lack of sleep, physical inactivity, and undernutrition (overeating). Your body needs resources to be able to handle stress effectively. Everyone has had days when stress exhausted him so much that he forgot about his own needs. But dealing with stress without satisfying the needs of the body is as pointless as sending a soldier to war without a weapon! Make adequate sleep, adequate nutrition and exercise your priorities. nine0003

5. Rethink the cause of stress. Stress doesn't have to make you feel negative. If you feel that you have enough resources to cope with it (time, money, strength, desire, etc.), then you begin to relate differently to the very cause of stress. You understand that you can solve the problem, even if it takes some time. When a person sees stress, but does not feel that he can cope with it, then he experiences anxiety, powerlessness, feels lost. Accept stress as a challenge, not a threat. Make the cause of stress your exciting task to solve. Don't make it an unpleasant activity that overwhelms and upsets you. Perhaps your partner can help you look at stress in a new way? nine0003

How do you deal with your partner's stress?

The presence of a person who helps to cope with stress and provides the necessary support is of great importance. As a result, shared stressful experiences bring two people closer than anything else. What can you do for your partner to help him cope with the problem?

1. Talk to him. Find out how your partner reacts to stress and ask how you can help him. The problem is that everyone reacts to stress differently. Sometimes from the outside it may seem that a person is simply bored! Therefore, it is important to take care and take an interest in the condition of the partner. nine0003

2. Support each other. The more support a person receives from their partner, the less likely it is that stress will cause a quarrel in a relationship. You can go different ways: start helping around the house more, or take the evening to listen to your partner.

3. Create more positive moments. You are not the only one who needs to experience positive emotions during times of stress. Your partner also needs them! But again, any extra activity should not be time-consuming - otherwise it will only cause more stress. Watch humorous programs, funny films together, go for a walk in the evening, read funny stories to your partner that you found on the Internet. All this will help you and your partner stay in a good mood and bring you closer. nine0003

4. Help your partner take care of themselves. You already know that a person in a period of stress is in dire need of sleep, nutrition and exercise. Even if all this means that your partner will spend less time with you, make these sacrifices to help your loved one cope with difficulties.

5. If all this fails, brainstorm together and find a way out. Come up with a creative solution to a problem! Come up with your own way to get out of a stressful state together. Each couple will have their own, different method. nine0003

Your task now is to actually put the suggestions into practice. Force yourself to do it! And you will be amazed at the quick results.


Also read:
7 Steps to Conflict Resolution

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Anti-virus recharge: how to quickly calm down and relieve stress at home

We continue to publish recommendations on how to maintain relationships with loved ones in conditions of self-isolation from teachers of the Department of Practical Psychology. Today, Candidate of Psychological Sciences, Associate Professor Natalya Nikolaevna Kuimova shares useful information. nine0003

It is no secret that a huge flow of information about the spread of COVID-19, the number of sick and especially dead people in the world paralyzes a person, panic fear appears and, as a result, a protective reaction of the brain occurs - a surge of emotions (anger, resentment, depressed mood, etc. ) and inappropriate behavior (run away, hide, not communicate with anyone, etc.). Our body and nervous system get stressed.

Questions immediately arise in my mind:

  • How to maintain a sober look at the current situation and not succumb to general panic? nine0083
  • How to behave in this situation, maintain self-control and relieve stress?
  • What is the essence of panic and its effect on a person?

First you need to understand what panic is.

Panic fear is a sudden, unaccountable fear, a state of intense anxiety in front of a real or perceived threat, seizing individuals, most often a crowd.

During a panic, most often, a person ceases to control himself, his thoughts and actions. This is a powerful destructive energy that destroys from the inside, which can lead a "panic-infected" person to break the law and harm others or an animal. A person completely loses control over his emotions, which leads to tantrums, psychosis, or even worse - to deep depression. A person in a panic state does not realize what is happening. nine0003

Under severe stress, a huge dose of adrenaline is produced in the blood, which is dangerous for physical health. The more often a person panics, the more often the brain gets used to the uncontrolled release of energy and automatically, in a critical situation, as a TOTAL, turns off.

During a general panic, people begin to concentrate all their attention on a common problem. On the one hand, this is wonderful, because a common problem unites them, but, on the other hand, people become out of control. It is very easy for such people to impose their will. That is why during epidemics or a pandemic, people run to stores and buy everything. nine0003

How to deal with panic or stress?

Let's look at some of the simplest and most effective ways

  • First of all, you should start breathing evenly and calmly. It has been scientifically proven that even deep breathing relaxes the body and impulses in the body, allowing our nerve endings not to be irritated, but, on the contrary, to come to complete rest. Close your eyes and start counting to 10. At this moment, our brain calms down, the emotional background returns to normal. This is due to the switching of the brain to the alpha state, in which the stress state decreases, and the person can feel smooth relaxation, and also in this state pain sensations decrease. nine0083
  • Solitude and relaxing meditations are very helpful . To quickly relieve stress, you can try to close yourself in a quiet room for a while and think about something good. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, remember the situation in which you experienced a feeling of happiness. Visualize this picture and try to feel these positive feelings. At this point, the rebellious stress hormones will calm down. After you feel that you have calmed down and your body has literally begun to relax, start an internal dialogue with yourself. This is the most efficient way! Cheer yourself up, explain to yourself that the world is great, that the resources of the state and the Earth will be enough for everyone. Explain to yourself that if you are calm, then your relatives and friends will be calm, and they, in turn, will calm their relatives and friends, and so on ad infinitum. After such meditation, the brain ceases to be "in military mobilization", and the person begins to think sensibly and in the right direction to solve problems. nine0083
  • If possible, take a shower . Water is a good information conductor. In my experience and the experience of my clients, it has been proven more than once that the right decisions come while taking a shower. So one of my clients, during a difficult time in business, came up with a solution that allowed him to bring his business to a high level of income and save the situation. Set aside at least 20 minutes for this. You'll see, the result is worth it.
  • Distraction procedure. In times of stress, it is sometimes enough just to warm your hands, you can do this with warm water or hot air. Usually, after such a procedure, a person quickly comes to his senses and stops being nervous. nine0083
  • Any situation can be changed if the person is still alive . I love one of my practices that has saved many of my clients in different situations. Take a sheet of paper and a pen. At the top, write your situation because of which you are worried. Divide the sheet into 2 halves. And below it, on one side, write at least 20-25 of the worst scenarios that could happen. Next to each script you write, describe what you would do in that situation. On the back of the paper, write 20-25 good scripts. Read everything you got. At this moment, the brain stores information, and then there is an activation of brain activity to find the best scenario for the development of events. Indeed, in fact, you are ready for the worst, which means that fear recedes, and the brain begins to work soberly and actively to form a better situation for you. The main thing is not to dwell on the bad, but to let go of the situation, after a while everything will be decided and even better than you could imagine. nine0083
  • Watch what you say and with what intonation ! Remove from your vocabulary the words "collapse", "horror", "death", etc. Focus on positive things. Give thanks for what you already have – health, family, love.
  • Physical activity against stress. If a person needs to quickly relieve stress, then simple physical exercises can help him in this process, it is enough to work out for only half an hour, and the nervous system will immediately come in order. It would also be nice to buy a punching bag and hang it in your living quarters. Then with its help it will be possible to relieve stress at any time. nine0083
  • Drinks. Simple strong green tea will help you quickly relieve stress. Only here it is desirable to drink such a drink in a calm atmosphere, and not during a showdown with your loved ones. Therefore, if a quarrel arose at home, it is advisable to go together to the kitchen and drink tea there. You can also enjoy delicious coffee. This will also help calm the nerves, and green tea helps to distract and relieve stress
  • Sweets. Sweet is known to help improve a person's mood. To achieve this effect, you can order yourself a delicious dessert such as cake or ice cream. Or just eat delicious chocolate at home. It is advisable to eat dark chocolate during stress, because it is he who is able to cheer you up. However, while eating chocolate, it is important to remember that it contains a lot of calories, so you should not get too carried away. In everything you need to know the measure! You can not constantly seize problems, it is better to use different ways of calming and relaxing. nine0083
  • Citrus aroma. The smell of mandarin or orange, strangely enough, helps to relieve stress, for this it is not necessary to look for fresh fruits, you can keep orange oil in such a case, the smell of which can calm the nerves.

We have analyzed the simplest ways out of panic and stressful situations that are available to everyone.

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