How Stress Affects Family Health

Stress is an inevitable part of life, and a stress-free lifestyle is something we all strive for. The rush of cortisol and adrenaline can have both positive and negative side effects on our lives. Yet, stress statistics reveal a worrying phenomenon: 57% of people who participated in a study conducted by Everyday Health feel paralyzed by stress and anxiety. What’s more, 48% of people in the US have trouble sleeping at night due to stress-related issues. Of course, our lives are getting faster by the day, which causes even more problems. So, does this vicious cycle affect family life? How are families coping with adverse side effects of stress? Let’s find out.

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What Is Stress in the First Place?

Before we begin to explain the consequences of stress, we should quickly revisit the basics. In other words, it’s necessary to understand the very nature of stress-related behavior before we do anything else.

In essence, stress is a disagreement between our expectations and reality. As soon as something is different than the way we imagined it in our minds, anxiety rears its ugly head.

As we said, stress is a normal part of life. However, everyone perceives this emotion differently. What this means is that our perceptions of reality determine our understanding of stress-related feelings.

In practice, this means that some people will worry to death about a lack of money while others will sleep like a baby. So, it’s clear that it’s all in our heads, whether we like it or not.

What Triggers Stressful Events in the Family?

Stress is becoming a significant health concern in the US. For instance, statistics show that almost one million workers miss work every day due to issues caused by stress.

When it comes to family life, all sorts of elements can trigger “family drama.” Unfortunately, problems in our everyday lives tend to pile up. In the end, such a level of frustration often results in conflict.

Stress statistics show that money issues are one of the leading stressors. Likewise, illnesses and the death of a loved one are traumatic experiences that can lead to stress.  

Different forms of rivalry and jealousy are also well-established causes of stress in a lot of families. 

So, how do these hardships manifest themselves? Let’s take a look at the adverse effects that stressors can have on the human body.  

Symptoms of Stress

We already said that people have different conceptions when it comes to this particular emotion. Thus, the symptoms vary from one person to the other.

Nonetheless, some effects of stress are common in the average American household. Experts typically divide those symptoms into two groups explained below. 

 - Physical symptoms

As the name implies, these symptoms affect the entire body, more or less. For instance, some of the physical effects of stress are shaking, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, and muscle tension.

Also, physical manifestations of stress are jaw clenching, nausea, and headaches. Of course, these symptoms can appear in different forms and intensity.

- Psychological symptoms

On the other hand, the psychological effects of stress are affecting a mental state. For example, a person who is under a lot of stress may feel depressed, overwhelmed, or worthless.

Likewise, stress can make people disoriented or forgetful. If stress becomes chronic, a person might become moody, pessimistic, or even aggressive.

How to Cope with Family Stress

As you can see, stress-related symptoms can be dangerous and severe. The crucial thing is to prevent the development of chronic stress.

Of course, this calls for a lot of affection and tolerance. Feelings of anxiety, frustration, or fear can be sneaky, and that’s why the battle to reduce stress is a constant challenge.

That said, experts agree that some coping mechanisms are better than others. So, here are the best methods that could help you or your family members.

·         Recognize stressors

Well, the first step is to learn what triggers anxiety and anger. By recognizing early signs of stress, you can adjust the behavior and avoid further consequences.

Thus, families should communicate as much as possible to learn about each other’s stress cues and triggers.

·         Practice a healthy lifestyle

Once you’ve established what it is that “rubs you the wrong way,” you should look for ways to alleviate the symptoms.

Without a doubt, a healthy lifestyle is an excellent option for anyone who deals with stress regularly. After all, 32% of Americans agree that exercise is an effective method for overcoming stress.   

·         Improve sleep 

In a way, sleep is related to the previous point on this list. Nevertheless, the importance of regular sleep is immense. So, it’s necessary to point out this aspect as well.

The thing is, sleep deprivation intensifies the adverse effects of stress. On the other hand, regular sleep helps the body to recover. Of course, quality sleep boosts the immune system.

·         Try to socialize and connect with other family members

Your family should be a source of comfort, support, and guidance. However, many families are torn apart by all sorts of stressful events.

Due to these traumatic experiences, many family members drift apart. So, try to form a bond with your family by spending more time together.  

·         Get professional help

In the end, professional help is the last resort for anyone who feels overwhelmed by stress. After all, our coping mechanisms are not all-powerful, and they have their limits.

So, if stress threatens to push you into chronic depression or causes episodes of aggressive behavior, it’s time to call the pros. Therapy can be an excellent choice for family members who don’t see eye to eye, no matter the reason for the dispute.

Final Thoughts

Stress is a double-edged sword, and you should be careful with this multi-layered emotion. Even though some forms of stress can motivate people and force them into action, it causes more harm than good. 

Family stress can destroy families and turn family members into sworn enemies. So, make sure that you analyze problems in your relationships and apply some of the coping strategies to overcome the issue. 

  • Marina Avramovic: Marina Avramovic – Co-Founder and Content Writer and Coordinator