Stress and relationships

Even if it is an exciting time in our lives, like graduating from college, getting married, buying a new car, getting a new job or having a baby, we still feel stress. The difference between positive and negative stress is that we usually experience the positive stress with a smile on our face and happiness in our hearts.

The body experiences stress from both positive and negative life events much the same way. Stress may make you drowsy, hyper, angry, euphoric or physically ill. It may also cause lack of sleep. When we do not consciously address that stress, we tend to take it out on those loved ones that are around us. If we are to be effective in our relationships, we must be prepared to deal with the stress that these transitions create, so that our loved ones do not have to pay the price for our feelings. What is the most effective way to approach an impending transition? The best answers lie in our ability to:

  1. Predict how intensely we will react to transitions.
  2. Communicate to our loved ones how we may react and that we will need some support.
  3. Approach the transition positively and know the stressful situation is temporary.
  4. Ask clearly for what we want from other people.

By doing these things, we are able to weather the rough spots without hurting the loved ones we love. Realising that we are under stress and understanding how we act that stress out with those around us may require a hard look at ourselves. Being able to explain your stress to loved ones will prevent both you and them from misreading your behaviour. In return, knowing what stress looks like in family or others close to you allows you to dismiss some temporary offensive behaviour instead of becoming hurt by it.

Adapted from

McKee, S.L. and Walters, B.L., 2002. Transition management: A practical approach to personal and professional development. Prentice Hall.

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