What is stress?
According to medlineplus.gov, stress is the feeling of emotional or physical tension that results from events that make one angry, frustrated, or nervous.
It is ok for the human body to feel stress when subjected to different challenges. In medical terms, when the body is stressed, it releases hormones that make the brain alert, the muscles tense, and the pulse rate increase. Too much stress will make the body vulnerable to various health risks in the long run. Some of these health risks include heart diseases, obesity, high blood pressure, depression, and varieties of skin problems.
When your spouse is stressed, it becomes difficult to focus and perform their duties as expected. It is also challenging to watch your spouse go through stress since stress fronts attitudes and behaviors that can be moody and edgy. Your stressed spouse might react in abnormal ways that require a high level of tolerance on your part. They will also need different comfort methods to get them through a stressful episode.
It is necessary to be cautious and not allow yourself to be sucked into the drama your spouse might put up during this episode. Instead, you must be calm, kind, and tolerant and understand the outside stressors they are working through.
Types of Stress Your Spouse Can Experience
Stress comes in various forms, and you must be able to identify the kind of stress your spouse is going through. This will help you offer the appropriate intervention.
Your spouse can be a victim of any of the following types of stress:
1. Acute stress
Acute stress is a form of short-term stress experienced by the human body. It is the type of stress experienced when one is very anxious, faced with a scary incident, and dealing with heightened excitement. Acute stress typically subsides quickly, depending on how intense the experience was.
2. Chronic stress
Chronic stress occurs from stressors that persist for a prolonged period. Your spouse might experience this kind of stress when constantly in situations that make them nervous, scared, or worried.
3. Episodic stress
A person is said to suffer episodic stress when frequently experiencing acute stress. The person experiences a roller coaster of sudden stressful situations that keep occurring repeatedly, without giving the body enough time to return to its relaxed state before another episode occurs.
There are also some stressful life situations your spouse might be going through that keep them worked up and agitated. These stressors include dealing with job loss, moving, the death of loved ones, illness, troublesome kids, and other stressors.
Signs that Your Spouse Is Stressed
There are some health-related signs to look out for that indicate your spouse is going through stress, including: diarrhea, forgetfulness, headaches, fatigue, trouble sleeping, weight loss, and more. Your spouse might also show physical symptoms like increased heart rate, dilation of the pupils, increased body temperature, heavy breathing, emotional swings, poor sleeping habits, and anxiety.
Your partner might behave in different, often unpleasant and out-of-character, ways. This is because they are reacting to the stressful situations, or their body trying to deal with the stress they are experiencing.
Humans have different thresholds for coping or handling stress. Therefore, as a loyal husband or wife, you must observe any changes in your spouse’s behavioral patterns. You must also be patient and understanding when they show any of the above signs of stress.
Ways to Help Your Spouse Cope with Stress
Now that you have figured out your spouse is going through stress, how do you help them cope with this stress?
Here are some healthy ways to help your spouse deal with their stress:
1. Listen to your spouse without judgment.
The first step to help your spouse deal with their situation is to establish communication. Make them talk to you about what is stressful, and listen without judgment. You might find their cause of stress less severe to you, but it is not so for them because we all have a varying threshold for coping with stress.
Your spouse must be able to express themselves and their feelings freely to you, knowing that you will be sensitive enough to understand how they feel. When you listen and understand the reason for your partner’s stress, you can then figure out how to help them relax and feel calm. This lets your spouse know that you are on their team.
2. Do a few thoughtful things for your spouse.
Listening to your spouse and understanding the cause of their stress is not enough. You must also step up and lend a helping hand where needed, as it will go a long way in making their burdens lighter. You can contribute by helping with basic house chores. These include looking after the kids, cleaning, and some other activities that your spouse normally has to do by themselves. This way, you make it easy for them to do less work and have enough time to relax and take a load off.
Sometimes, the thought of having to deal with so many household chores and caring for the kids after a very strenuous day at work might make your spouse already worked up before getting home. And this affects their mood and attitude when they finally get home. As a thoughtful partner, it is important to observe these stress signs and, without asking, make these small gestures to make your spouse’s life easier.
Besides helping out with domestic chores and other household activities, boredom can also trigger or make a stressful situation worse for your spouse. If this is the case, you can offer to take them out, give them a nice treat, or make them spend quality time with friends away from home and work. The idea is to get them away from the stressful environment. Let your spouse take a short break from their stressors and have some time to recuperate.
You must be caring and give your partner proper emotional and spiritual support in times like this.
3. Learn to identify the signs of stress.
Men and women experience stress differently. And they react differently under stressful situations. It is, however, of utmost importance to study your partner closely and be able to identify their various signs of stress. Your ability to identify your spouse’s stress symptoms makes it easy to take proper action when going through a challenge. You will also know the best approach to help them calm down.
Help your partner get enough rest and sleep. Keep them away from any form of distraction while they try to get some rest. Help with the troublesome kids or get a sitter to look after the kids so your wife can have that quiet time and sound sleep.
4. Help them develop effective time management.
If your spouse’s stressors are work-related, help them organize their schedules in an effective manner. Your spouse might not have good time management skills and have to deal with lots of tasks at the same time. This can be a very challenging experience that they contend with on a daily basis. Discuss their work plans and help them create effective time management that will give them a balanced work life.
5. Seek professional help when necessary.
Sometimes, you might not be able to proffer an effective solution to help your spouse cope with their stress. This is the best time to bring in the big guns. Set up an appointment with the professionals and let them help you. Let them find a Christian counselor they feel comfortable with and offer the space to let them speak with counselors and therapists who are trained to handle such situations.
Most importantly, as a Christian, you must support your spouse with prayers and scriptural words of encouragement. Matthew 6:34 perfectly summarizes this. Many other scriptural verses can help. They include Psalm 23:4, Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 8:31, and Psalm 94:19.
Stress is a natural experience we are bound to contend with at various stages in life. But how we deal with it differs. When your spouse is going through stress, it is important to be patient with them and not act judgmental toward them. Of course, this doesn’t imply that you are to tolerate abusive behavior. Everyone, regardless of their stress, is responsible for their actions. However, when your spouse is undergoing stress, this is an ideal time to practice your vows of “for better or worse,” offering mercy and grace to your lifelong partner.
When your wife or husband is going through stressful situations, this is the best time to be tolerant and show genuine love, care, and emotional support.
Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock/jacoblund
Emmanuel Abimbola is a creative freelance writer, blogger, and web designer. He is a devout Christian with an uncompromising faith who hails from Ondo State in Nigeria, West Africa. As a lover of kids, Emmanuel runs a small elementary school in Arigidi, Nigeria.