The Effects of Your Stress on Friends, Family and Colleagues

According to the American Psychological Association, two-thirds of Americans are stressed. While the types and causes of stress are many and varied, there is no doubt that our stress can negatively impact our friends, family and colleagues.

As human beings we are social by nature, and we need to connect with others to some degree. So what happens if we take our stress out on people we are interacting with?

Our friends and family may distance themselves from us if they become the targets of our stress. For instance, a best friend may prefer to not be around us because of the way we are acting, in a time when we need her the most.

Whether we are being irritating, erratic or just plain snappy, our behavior could also make our parents unnecessarily worry about us. That worry, if taken on inadvertently, could cause physical and emotional stress for them.

Feeling the stress of a loved one can create a feeling of helplessness. Because we are social creatures and we do care, it is only natural to want to shield loved ones from a stressful experience.

In order to avoid negatively impacting our most cherished relationships, consider one of the following techniques:

  1. Identify your stressor or trigger, and prepare yourself ahead of time. Being prepared can make you feel better equipped to deal with whatever comes up.
  2. When feeling stressed, be mindful of how you interact with other people. Don’t act unlike yourself or bottle up anything you need to express. Instead, act consciously in their company.
  3. Enjoy the moment with others by putting your stress aside. If you really want to visit the stress later — and that’s a big “if” — put a post-it note on it for a later date. Perhaps spending time with those colleagues will make your stress feel insignificant, and you’ll be ready to let go of it.
  4. Put yourself in others’ shoes. Perhaps they are feeling stressed, too. They might be looking to spend quality time with you. Honor your relationship with them.

If stress is a frequent visitor in your life, take a moment for yourself and decide how you best want to spend time with a family member, friend or colleague. At the end of the day, the present moment is all we have.