Do you regularly bring toxic stress home with you? Doing so could negatively affect your home life in several noticeable ways if those stress levels are too high for too long. You may leave work, school, or other activities and, despite intending otherwise, take out that stress on your loved ones afterward.
In her “Psychology Today” article entitled How Bringing Stress Home Can Hurt Relationships, Marissa T. Cohen Ph.D. MFT, CPLC discusses a study showing couples’ unhealthy stressors throughout their days can negatively impact their significant-other relationship and how they view their most vital bond. Here’s what Cohen has to say about the study’s findings:
“The stress of the day, for both partners, led to stress within the relationship, which led to lowered relationship satisfaction (Falconier et al., 2015). This is not only important as a research finding, but it also underscores the importance of couples working with counselors to learn how to cope with daily stresses so that they don’t indirectly impact their relationship.”
While Cohen’s focus is on significant-other relationships harmed from taking occupational stress home, children and anyone else living in the home can easily be adversely affected as well. So, how do you minimize the potential for bringing stress home with you and negatively impacting your family? Here are several ideas.
Remember that Unhealthy Stress Levels Can’t be Compartmentalized
At least not for long. Before managing stress at work better, many of us commonly try to compartmentalize our stress. We do our best to take charge and tell our stress where to go.
We convince ourselves that we’ll simply hit the off switch once we leave a stressful environment and head home. But unfortunately, the idea that you can isolate your stress without adverse effects on your family’s health is primarily a myth.
Eventually, that unhealthy stress will spill over, causing problems in your most vital relationships. Even if your stress doesn’t come out as anger at home, passive stress effects are still serious concerns, robbing your family of its greatest potential in big ways.
Family Stressors Can Adversely Affect Your Time Away Too
The professional stressors many people go through can be intense at times. And sometimes, that intensity is prolonged, potentially causing a lot of damage to your home-life growth and tranquility.
At the same time, this cycle can predominantly play out in exactly the opposite way. If you have too much home-life stress, it can negatively impact your professional life.
Eventually, it’s tough to know what’s causing the brunt of your stress—is it primarily because of family or career concerns? In reality, even for those with relatively low-stress levels, we can see ways where either home life or work causes stress in other life areas.
Be Careful of Anger When Stress Levels Away from Home are High
Unhealthy stress release at home can lead to anger or even rage directed at family members such as a spouse, significant other, or child. Your loved ones aren’t the primary reason for your high-stress levels.
Still, those unresolved pressures can be transferred to them, leaving those you love most bewildered, hurt and angry. And because this stress is transferred to others, it only leads to ever-increasing stress levels away from home and with family.
Be especially careful if you find it difficult to control your emotions at home due to external stressors. Significant damage can quickly happen, so it’s wise to seek the help of a therapist to work through stress and anger management.
Look for Passive Indicators You’re Bringing Stress Home
Remember that bringing stress home doesn’t always come out as anger or hostility as so commonly thought. Of course, those challenges scream that something is wrong and tend to get the most attention. However, another possibility that flies more under the radar is you come home sapped of all your energy or feeling on edge, keyed up, and full of anxiety. You may also arrive home feeling sad or depressed and just want to isolate yourself from others.
While these passive stress reactions may not seem as harmful as anger or rage, they still cause considerable loss to your personal and familial potential. The good, meaningful times with your family are essentially stolen from you. Moments are snuffed out or cut short due to stressors outside the home that interfere with those you care about most.
Depending on how you handle stress brought home, it may feel to your family that you’re home physically, but mentally you’re many miles away.
Positive Side of How Work and Family Life Play Off Each Other
It’s understandable when an area of your life causes stress, you want to fix it. We tend to look at negative aspects of stress under a microscope. And this is understandable considering how much harm unhealthy stress can cause.
But also remember that controlling those stress levels eventually leads to a healthy and positive energy transfer between work and home life. They both begin to positively play off each other rather than the opposite. Both areas of your life begin to nourish each other, leading to a happier, more fulfilled life.
The momentum begins to shift in a healthy direction rather than the opposite. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Are You Bringing Toxic Stress Home? Stress Counseling Can Help
Is chronic stress beginning to negatively affect your relationships, or do you worry that it may if you don’t find ways to manage it better? If so, addressing these challenges through stress counseling can make a big difference as you learn and practice proven ways to destress.
Although high-stress levels can feel hopeless, exhausting, and angering, you don’t have to continue feeling that way. The OC Relationship Center can help you find effective stress management techniques. Please reach out if you’d like to learn more about how we can help with stress relief. You can also schedule an appointment with us at your convenience.