In today’s fast paced society, it is impossible to avoid stress in our lives. A 2020 survey, ear the beginning of the COVID pandemic estimated the prevalence of symptoms of depression was 28% and symptoms of anxiety 21% (Fisher et al, 2020).
A 2014 survey of Australian adults found that 1 in 4 respondents reported moderate to severe levels of stress, highest amongst 18-25 and 26-35 age groups. Almost 1 in 5 (17%) reported that current stress levels are having a strong to very strong impact on physical health (Australian Psychological Society, 2014).
Stressors are external events which cause an emotional or physical reaction. The impact of the event depends on whether one views the event as positive or negative. When stress levels are high or chronic, it is common for physical symptoms (headaches, backaches), psychological symptoms (anxiety, anger) and relational issues (conflict, disconnection) to emerge.
There are 2 basic ways to cope with stress:
- Eliminate the stressor. Some stressors represent things that are controllable (working too many hours). In some cases, it is possible to make choices that actually eliminate the stressor (change jobs).
- Change one’s reaction to stress. When a stressor cannot be eliminated, it is important to look at how one reacts or copes in response to the stressor. Learning and using healthy coping mechanisms can help individuals respond to stress in healthier ways.
Tune in next week for part 2, stress and the impact on couples.
- Australian Psychological Society (2014): www.psychology.org.au
- Fisher, J. Tran, T., Hammarberg, K., Sastry, J., Nguyen, H., Rowe, H., Popplestone, S., Stocker, R., Stubber, C., and Kirkman, M. (2020): Mental health of people in Australia in the first month of COVID‐19 restrictions: a national survey: Med J Aust 2020; 213 (10): 458-464.
- Neff, L.A., and Karney, B.R., (2009). Stress and reactivity to daily relationship experiences: How stress hinders adaptive processes in marriage. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97 (3), 435-450.
Do you need help with an issue or problem? Our approach helps to generate deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations can restore insight and understanding about one another.