Tips for De-Stressing Relationships

in Stress-management

The most difficult stressor for most of us is other people. When you give others control over your feelings, thoughts and choices, you feel powerless. That loss of control is the cause of stress.

The number one key to de-stressing relationships is knowing what you control and what the other person controls. You control everything within you - what you think, feel, and choose.

Here are a few tips to reduce relationship stress.

Take Responsibility for You
Take a deep breath and reflect on where the stress reaction is coming from. In what way are you feeling a loss of control?

The other person's behavior may remind you of a parent. In this case you can feel like a powerless child. Remind yourself that you are an adult. You have the right to think, feel and choose according to your beliefs and desires.

On the other hand, the person's stance may be more like an irresponsible child who's expecting you to take responsibility for their feelings and behavior. Clarifying both of your positions as equal adults and separating the responsibility appropriately can reduce your stress.

Stress decreases as soon as you take control by making a choice.

Let Go of Controlling the Other
Acknowledge and respect the other person's right and responsibility to think, feel and act according to their beliefs and desires. Acknowledging the other person's control and responsibility for themselves does not mean that you agree with them.

Being open to listening and understanding differences creates an environment for dialogue and opens the possibilities for new views and new choices.

Take Charge of Your Position
Take charge of your physical, nonverbal power by making sure you are at a level physical position with the other person.

If they are standing either stand or invite them to sit. Stand up straight, feet about shoulder width apart and breathe deeply into the base of your pelvis. Maintain direct, open, non-glaring eye contact.

Sit at an angle beside the other person. If possible, eliminate any barriers like desks between you.

Pick a location that will reduce the stress, as taking a walk in nature, a neutral or living room-like setting, or a space that is open, comfortable and light.

Use ‘I’ Statements
Take responsibility by using ‘I’ statements - I think, I feel, I prefer.


Instead of blaming or accusing the other person for making you feel a certain way, communicate how you feel based on what has happened and how you would like it to be different in the future. This can enhance communication by giving the other person information about what is important to you. The other person then can consider this information in the future.

Request Feedback
It's important to realize that everyone is unique and has a different perspective and interpretation of what they see and hear.   Start by assuming the other person cannot hear your meaning as you intend.

Requesting feedback with curiosity and an open attitude can increase clarity and reduce the stress of misunderstanding.

Putting It Together
Everyone has the equal right to think, feel and act according to their own judgment and that everyone has a unique perspective. Trying to control another person is futile.  At the same time, taking power and control over your rightful responsibility for yourself and your message can not only reduce your stress, it can open the door to more satisfying relationships.

In de-stressing a relationship, you are not only concerned about your stress, but also the stress of the other person. You want to reduce the fear of loss of control on both sides of the relationship. Standing in your power to control your side of the relationship is your right and responsibility. At the same time, creating an environment where the other person knows you are respecting their right and responsibility for their unique side of the communication has the potential to reduce their stress as well.

The power to create less stressful relationships is in your hands.


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Aila Accad, RN, MSN has 1 articles online
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Tips for De-Stressing Relationships

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This article was published on 2010/04/02