Part 1 of a 2-Park Overcoming Stress in the Family Series
As we go through the day, we encounter many issues, circumstances,and people which cause us stress. We all handle stress in different ways, but it is important to develop psychologically healthy ways of coping with our stress. This not only helps us to be healthier psychologically, but it also helps our families and friends.
This article is the first of a two-part series which looks at the role stress plays in the family, and at the insights that Christian counseling provides for dealing with stress. Stress is an inevitable fact of life and can even be helpful. However, we need to learn to find positive ways of handling stress so that it does not dominate our lives.
Stress in the FamilyStress is a common feeling and is brought on in many different ways. If we find ourselves feeling stressed on a regular basis, this can have a negative impact on our family life. It is often our family members who suffer from the toll that stress takes on us, and who have to bear the brunt of our reactions. It is said that “We tend to treat the people closest to us the worst.” This means that when family members are under stress, they may react much more freely, taking out their frustrations on those close to them. As a result, families find it difficult to get along and family members can hurt one another. Teenagers who are feeling pressure from school or from their peers could, in turn, treat their siblings or parents rudely through their comments or nonverbal reactions. A parent who is stressed because of financial, work, or marital issues, may react negatively to anyone in sight. Not only are these unhealthy ways of responding, but they set off another series of conflicts, raising issues that will need to be dealt with.
The Benefits of Stress
This does not mean that all stress is unhealthy. We need to make decisions and each new day challenges us on how we are to put our beliefs into practice. When we feel stress, our bodies bring us to a place where we can respond either positively or negatively. We can choose to respond in either way, and it is our responses that determine how stressed we will be.
Experiencing a little stress every day is normal. However, when stress seems to dominate your nervous system on most days and makes you react in more negative than positive ways, you may need to reassess your circumstances. Perhaps you need to address the activities or individuals that are causing you stress.
Negative and Positive Ways of Handling Stress
Stress can affect the nervous system, the brain, and many other parts of the body. When people feel stress they may have a sense that their brain seems to be freezing, making it difficult to make decisions. At the same time, they may start to sweat, and feel a tightening of the chest, making it difficult to breathe. Some people can even experience a panic attack from too much stress. These symptoms of stress are not pleasant and sometimes prompt us to react in harsh or fearful ways. The comments we make to others, the gestures we communicate non-verbally, or the hurtful words we spew because of the embarrassment we may feel from a panic attack – these are all examples of handling stress in a negative way.
Christian Counseling Can Help You To Deal With Stress
In my next article, I am going to discuss how we can deal with stress in a positive way. While we cannot eliminate stress, we can learn to take control of our own lives so that stress does not play a dominant and negative role, preventing us from becoming the people whom God wants us to be. Dealing with your stress may involve taking stock of your life and making some strategic decisions. A Christian counselor can help you in this process as you consider how best to reach your goal. Christian counseling helps you to share how you feel with those around you and can help you to regain control of yourself. If you would like to explore how a Christian Counselor can help you deal with the stress that is affecting your family, please call feel free to contact us here.
Brimhall, A. S. & Gardner, B. C. (No date) Altering the Abyss: Externalizing negative interaction cycles. The Couple and Family Therapist’s Notebook.
Gottman, J.M., & Notarius, C. I. (2000) Decade review: Observing marital interaction. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 927-947.
Watzlawick, P., Beavin, J., & Jackson, D. (1967). Pragmatics of human communication. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.
Wiehe, V. R. (1998). Understanding Family Violence. Treating and Preventing.
Images from freedigitalphotos.net “Angry Man” by artur84; “Son With Affectionate Mother” Stock Photo by David Castillo Dominici
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