Everyone gets stressed sometimes. A long day at work, unexpected financial trouble and turmoil between family or friends can make you feel drained, irritable and on edge for a few days. Going through the motions and acting normally when you’re stressed might be challenging, but these feelings often pass, and you can return to normal.
However, it’s when this stress becomes chronic that the danger really sets in. Managing long-term feelings of stress can feel like carrying a bucket full of stones everywhere you go. Stress takes its toll on your physical, mental and emotional health. It can hamper your sleep, affect your immunity, cause depression and even lead to major health conditions.
But stress doesn’t only affect you in negative ways. It can also hurt everyone around you—particularly the people you love and adore. Stress is, in a way, contagious—it can spread and affect others, often creating a vicious cycle of stressors. For some people, this realization is the push they need to make lifestyle changes that help them more effectively manage stress—both for their own good and the good of those around them.
Here are just some of the ways your stress can take a toll on others’ lives.
1. You aren’t yourself
One of the main ways your stress can affect other people is by changing the way you act and interact with them. Stress can do a lot of things to your personality. People who are stressed tend to be more withdrawn, tired and distracted. When you act this way, you may not have time to bond with your children, pay attention to your spouse or be there for a friend who needs you.
Stress also has a major impact on your mood. You’re more likely to become irritable, frustrated or emotional. This can give you a much shorter fuse than you normally have and potentially lead you to act in a way you normally wouldn’t toward your family or friends. This shift in demeanor can have a major impact on your relationships with your partner and children, in particular.
You may also have less energy and mental clarity to communicate effectively, leading to a higher risk of miscommunications, misunderstandings and altercations with others.
2. Your job performance suffers
Stress not only affects family, but also friends and acquaintances at work. For many people, their job is a major source of stress. For this reason alone, it can be difficult for a stressed person to interact with their coworkers or boss in their usual manner. Heightened irritability could lead to falling outs.
Stress also has the ability to impair your cognition, causing poor judgment, a lack of focus, brain fog and a greater chance for mistakes. If others rely on you in the workplace, these changes in mental capability could affect their livelihoods and/or your relationship with them.
3. Your libido plummets
Stress also has a huge impact on sex, which can put lots of pressure on the relationship between you and your partner. When your mind is bogged down by anxieties and fears, to-do lists and frustration, you’re unlikely to be in the mood. Your partner may be understanding of this, but it can also cause tension between you.
Intimacy, in general, might suffer between you and your partner if you’re feeling weighed down by stress. You might not have the time for you and your partner to bond, which could leave your partner feeling neglected or alienated—also potentially affecting your sex life.
4. You develop unhealthy coping mechanisms
How you learn to cope with stress can also negatively affect the people around you. There are lots of ways to cope with stress, from meditation and yoga to exercise. Unfortunately, not all coping mechanisms are healthy or productive.
Turning to alcohol, drugs, smoking, binge-eating or other unhealthy coping mechanisms might affect you the most, but they can also spill over into your personal life and affect your job, your kids, your romantic relationships and your friendships. Partaking in these unhealthy habits can quickly spin out of control and lead to serious health and wellness problems that your family and friends can suffer from, too.
Stress management helps you and your loved ones
There are so many ways that your stress isn’t just your own—how it can affect the people you love the most. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Finding healthy ways to manage your stress or eliminate major sources of stress entirely can help put you on the path to better health and healthier relationships with your family and friends.