Have you ever been aware of the many emotions you can experience in only one day? Many people start the day with the classical “morning stress” running to get ready for work, making breakfast for the kids and taking them to school in the rush hour. You feel your heart pumping and the tension in all the muscles of your body. Then, you get to the office, grab a cup of coffee and stay sit for hours dealing with problems and endless loads of work. You try to deal with your own anxiety and the hostility from other co-workers who, as well as you, are dealing with their own demons, and it’s hard. At noon, you make a stop at the drive-thru, eat junk food as fast as you can to get to the office again for that meeting, grab another cup of coffee – to stay alert - and continue with the non-stop race. At the end of the day, after being pushed to the limits of your patience, you may feel the need to cry, yell at someone or just feel sad for yourself. You are burning the candle at both ends so your emotions are like riding a roller coaster in the Six Flags Park.
When you get home and have to take care of the kids and your husband, and you have no energy whatsoever it is normal to feel irritable but the relationship with your family will suffer if you don’t take care of things.
Stress is a normal part of life, and one cannot completely avoid it. In fact, the phrase “Stress Management” coins the fact that stress needs to be managed, not eliminated.
So, how do we know if stress is affecting your marriage? Here are 6 signs that indicate that stress may be in the way of being content in your marriage:
You get home and you want to be let alone. The last thing you want to do is talk with your spouse. Interacting with your significant other feels like a burden. You want to run into your bedroom and lay down.
You get in your house and you start realizing all the things that need to be done, but most specifically the things that your spouse hasn’t done. Getting overly critical of what other’s do is a sign of feeling overwhelmed with daily chores… Thoughts like: “If my spouse did more, I would not be so tired…”
Fights start easily when you get home. You feel irritable the moment you get home. You feel like you don’t enjoy spending time with your family and arguments start from nothing.
You feel like zoning out in front of a screen. You walk in and get on Facebook, or any other social media… Or you have several shows back to catch on that no-one else wants to share with you.
You feel like drinking more alcohol and/or smoke cigarettes. Smoking usually means time alone out in the backyard, where no one else may want to be at because of the smell and mosquitos.
Your spouse points out that you look like you are not enjoying life anymore. Getting you to do things that were fun before is just not happening lately.
If you are experiencing a significant amount of stress in your life, and it is starting to affect the marriage, below are some ways to improve stress management. But first, let’s discuss the physical responses to negative emotions.
PHYSICAL RESPONSE TO NEGATIVE EMOTIONS:
Stress or overwhelming feelings caused by stress, cause negative emotions. There are also other negative emotions that may cause similar signs in relationships described above, such as frustration, anxiety, and depression.
Our brain is not aware if a situation is real or unreal. What matters is how you perceive things, so whenever the brain perceives that you are emotionally unsafe it reacts the same way as if you were physically fighting for your life. This is called the “fight/flight” reaction. One may also “freeze” in situations of emotional stress. When you experience this reaction, you feel:
An increased heart rate
Tightening of the body muscles
Increased blood pressure
A release of adrenaline and cortisol
An increased blood sugar level
Stomach pain, nausea or “butterflies”
QUICK TIP TO STOP NEGATIVE EMOTIONS WHEN FEELING OVERWHELMED:
This 4-action tip should be taken before reacting.
Stop – Be conscious about the negative emotion you are feeling.
Take a slow deep breath – It’s scientifically proven that breathing slow and deep can relax you and help you find your balance.
Analyze the facts – Find out if the negative emotion you are experiencing is real or not.
Replace it with something positive – Don’t let this negative feeling operate in your mind. Instead, replace it with something beautiful, funny or anything that makes you feel good.
Now that you are aware of these negative emotions that make you feel overwhelmed, hopeless and resentful and know that you have to get rid of them, it’s time to take your courage in both hands and “start a process of change” so you can transform your life from now on.
STARTING THE PROCESS OF CHANGE:
BE AWARE of what you are thinking and feeling. It’s human nature to experience these bad emotions but don’t let them interfere with your relationship with others.
WAKE UP AND GO TO BED EARLY so you can have a good quality of sleep and enjoy some “quality time” for yourself. It is proven that this good habit also increases your productivity. Avoid browsing the internet or watching TV before going to bed at night because you may lose sleep.
FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE at home, at the park or anywhere you want. If you can’t find that special spot for you, build it! You will go to this place whenever you need to relax and meditate before starting your day and/or after a stressful day. Your happy place can have anything you want like a blanket and pillows, a comfortable rocking chair in front of the window, a corner in your backyard. Go there every day to enjoy the silence and to connect with yourself.
BUILD GOOD HABITS that can change your way of thinking. I suggest you get a notebook and write down a few positive affirmations that you can repeat every morning before getting up from bed for 10 minutes. Here I will share with you some affirmations from Louise Hay that can help you getting start.- As I go about my daily affairs, I listen to my own guidance and I am safe. - Each problem has a solution. All experiences are opportunities for me to learn and grow. - I feel tolerance, compassion, and love for all people and myself indeed. - I rejoice in what I have, and I know that fresh new experiences are always ahead. I greet the new with open arms. I trust life to be wonderful. - I choose my thoughts with care. I constantly have new insights and new ways of looking at my world. I am willing to change and grow.
START MEDITATING to quiet your mind and shut off the noise and negative images from the past. Find a quiet place at home to do so. Here is a guided meditation video for you:
TAKE A BREAK OUTSIDE of the office. Try not to stay sit for so long inside your workspace! If possible, have lunch outdoors or work outside for an hour or so. It’s proven that people who work with artificial light are more cranky and stressed so get out and soak some sunlight!
MAKE A VISUALIZATION BOARD with pictures of exactly what you want. Let’s say that you want a new car so find images of the exact make, model, and color of car you want and put them in a cork or magnetic board. Date your board!If you like technology, you can download a vision board software so you can have the board on your cell phone, computer or another device. Visualization boards are a powerful tool to tell the brain what you want to achieve. It helps you keep focus on your goals, dreams and the life you want to get. You can attract anything you want in life, material wise, business wise, etc. Once you achieve these goals, keep your pictures in a very special place.
EAT HEALTHY SUPERFOODS to combat stress like avocado, berries, oatmeal, garlic, asparagus, walnuts, cashews or oranges. Dark chocolate is another healthy food that can change your mood in a good way!Remember to keep away from junk food – sometimes it is used as anesthesia for the stress or anxiety but the consequences are far from good. So be careful of what you are putting in your body!
HELPING OTHERS will impact your body with good chemicals. You will become more positive and optimistic about your life. Helping anyone in need will lower your stress levels, too. So try to find some time to help a cause you like or just try to be more helpful at the office, at home or in the neighborhood. Try to do one good action per day. It’s very rewarding!
I know that feeling overwhelmed by negative emotions is hard to deal with, but the key here is not to let them dominate your life for so long that they never go. As soon as you feel anxious, depressed or hopeless, take action with the suggestions above to enhance your relationship with your loved ones and yourself.
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To Your Success,
Sofia Robirosa is the owner of Infinite Therapeutic Services and is a Relationships & Parenting Expert. She offers individual, couples, and family counseling to individuals seeking to enhance their relationships. Her private practice is located in Plantation, FL. She attended Nova Southeastern University for both her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and in Business Administration. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Leader in Active Parenting for children and teens, an evidenced based program. She is also a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She is a passionately committed therapist, who thoroughly takes pride and joy from her job. She enjoys working with a culturally diverse population and is bilingual in Spanish and English. She is a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and an active volunteer of the Broward Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves her family, which consists of her husband, daughter, and two dogs. Some of her interests outside of work include spending time outdoors, traveling, and dining. Read more about her at: www.infinitetherapeuticservices.com and follow her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/infinitetherapy/