How to Deal With Family Stress?

How to Deal With Family Stress?

Family Stress

Family stress can take place when there are more stressors disturbing family members than one can handle which impacts their relationship to some extent. When close ones cause the stress, it feels more personal and hurts more compared to general stress. Family stress can occur due to various reasons or people. It can either occur within the family by their own family members or from outside the family. Family members may express family stress through engaging in loud arguments or assigning blame for missed commitments or unfinished work; it may also manifest as illness or violence at times. Family stress affects mental as well as physical health.

What is family stress theory?

The family stress theory was developed by Reuben hill, a sociologist in 1949 as a result of his curiosity in knowing the impact of world war 2 on families and the factors such as separations and reunification due to war on families. He studies the role of three factors i.e. the event, internal or external resources and the family perception of the event that contributes in determining the outcome of any crisis.

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Internal resources include anger and stress management skills, conflict resolution skills, self-awareness, feeling of empathy and sympathy. External resources, on the other hand, include financial resources like food, water, first aid, social support, therapy. This theory provide insights upon the causes or factors that lead to family stress. Different values, beliefs, experiences, expectations, roles, and perceptions directly impact what causes stress in different family systems, and one can take care of it by becoming aware of the causes of their distress.

Types of stress

There are some kind of stress, which keeps an individual motivated to do work and keeps the energy level high, it is called as eustress and is generally short term and doesn’t have severe impact on the individual. Due to this reason, eustress can also be called as positive stress as it benefits the person in some way or another and have positive effects.

Eustress is necessary to keep the person going forward with enthusiasm in life and to achieve what they desire. It also makes the person attentive by letting them concentrate on important things and alerts them. For example, students get stressed about the upcoming exam and so it motivates them to do their revision with focus and helps them pay attention to important topics.

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However, when the stress starts to interfere with person’s ability doing work and provides discomfort, it’s no longer beneficial stress and may be called as negative stress or distress. Negative stress causes anxiety in a person and may harm them. It also impairs their social and personal life.
Example of negative stress could be seen during the pandemic time, when everyone was so stressed worrying about their own health as well as their closed ones health. Covid made everyone so stressed that it affects their mental and physical health to a great extent. They were stressed not only about their health but also about the decline in their work, as well as the shortage of money and resources.

Causes of family stress

Common situations like birth of a child, taking care of a baby or toddler, worrying about children’s future, career and studies and making sure that they don’t get in wrong way or gets distracted at young age are some of the examples that stresses a parent or well wishers for their children. Parents also feels stressful in fear of missing good opportunities for their child’s success.

They get stressed about their child’s safety in public settings when the elder family members are away or not present with them. Other examples of family stress include relationship disputes, marriage, divorce, work, meetings and house responsibilities, financial conditions, death or loss of loved ones, illness, mental or physical disorders, performing religious rituals, family functions and grand gathering.

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Children and adolescents demonstrate family stress by expressing concerns about the health and safety of their family. Also, they feel stressed by the homework and assignments of school and colleges they need to do everyday, then stress related to friends, peer pressure, social outings and relationships leads to family stress. Elder members of the family stress about their health, as well as the health of their children, and managing medicine routines and proper food intake. They also take stress by thinking and making decisions about the transferring of their inheritance after their own demise.

Impact of family stress on the family members and others around

Family stress could create an imbalance in the family member’s life and affects the relationship of them with other members of the family and even outside of the family.

1) Blaming game:

Family stress could take the form of blaming others for no reason. They feels so stressed and worried that they often feels lack of responsibility for any action or deed they’ve done. The family members start blaming others impulsively and sometimes feel stuck in a cycle of the blame game: They get blamed, then they put their blame on others, and the cycle goes on. It may creates feeling of mistrust, aggression and agitation within the family members.

2) Arguments:

Arguments over small things could sometimes lead to stressful situations in family or other times family stress is expressed in the form of arguments with grownups or young helpless children. Parents ask their children to keep quiet when they express their views to which elderly people or any family member may not agree. People are likely to engage in arguments when there are misinterpretations, miscommunication, or an overload of emotions.

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2) Substance abuse:

To ease up the pain or to be able to get away from all the worries and family stress, people start consuming alcohol or drugs which makes them forget about their life happenings and responsibilities for a while and they feel relaxed. It may lead to addiction or substance abuse over time.

3) Disturbing health conditions:

Any kind of stress or excessive worry for a prolonged period of time may leads to serious mental or physical illnesses and disorders. Severe family stress could lead to depression or anxiety and may cause impairment in functioning of mind and body parts. As unexpressed stress or fear accumulates in body parts such as the heart, arms, legs, face, and chest, individuals experiencing family stress may complain about pains in these respective body parts. They often feel tired and exhausted and sleeps for longer durations or doesn’t sleeps at all.

4) Impairment in social and professional life:

The effects or symptoms of family stress are not only visible within the family but can also manifest outside the house, during social gatherings, or in the work environment in front of colleagues or friends. Stress changes one’s behaviour and the way of talking. People having stress feel sad, exhausted, overburdened and are unable to focus on little joys and happiness of life. They talk rudely with others around and may isolate themselves from others. Their productivity by doing work decreases and they often feels lethargic.

Ways to deal with family stress?

Family stress is a major issue and cause disruptions in relationships. However, you can surely take care of it through proper guidance and effective communication. Some of the ways through which people could reduce or overcome their family stress involves:

  1. Spending quality time with family members and the loved ones. Life is too short and worrisome, so take as much time out from work and responsibilities for family and enjoy those moments of togetherness. It also helps in bonding well with other members of the family and brings joy in the lives of each family member.
  2. Understand each family member and try to empathize with them. Know what makes the happy and what makes them stressful or unhappy. Understand and acknowledge their needs and values and make them feel comfortable. Respect their decisions and try to look at them from different perspectives to understand well before just complaining or passing hurtful judgement.
  3. Stop putting elder members of the family in some kind of imaginary pedestal. Believe that they are also humans just like anyone else and they are also capable of making mistakes or doing something wrong. Stop blaming them for that and start accepting to be able to look for solutions of the problem together.
  4. Communicate properly if something doesn’t feels right or if there is any kind of confusion regarding something. If some traits or qualities of a family member is bothering, let them know or find some alternatives or strategies to be able to avoid it. Just don’t feel frustrated or stressed easily, it may complicate the relationships and create distances. Talk to children and plan their future along with them. Ask about their interests and goals in mind.
Some other ways:
  1. Practice mindfulness techniques or meditation to keep oneself calm and comfortable and to be able to live the present moment.
  2. Ask for help or valuable advices from others when needed and even lend a helping hand to others in need of it.
  3. Spend time within ones own company and practice self care. Self care is as much important as taking care of other family members. Doing what makes us happy boosts our confidence and helps being away from stress to be able to lead a happy life.
  4. Involve the whole family while making important life decisions. This makes them feel important and valued. It also avoids family disputes and misunderstandings and creates a sense of trust and belongingnes. Treat your family like a team. Ask for the participation of kids as well as elder members of the family and assign them roles according to their capability.
  5. Stick to a daily routine. Eat healthy and homemade food and avoid junk food to stay fit and fine. Go for a walk by oneself or along with other family members. Exercise daily. Get enough sleep. These may sounds simple and basic but plays a huge role in overcoming family stress or any other kind of stressful situations.
  6. Adjust priorities and work so that it doesn’t come in the way of family time. Avoid overburdening yourself with work or adding unnecessary tasks to your schedule that may preoccupy you more than necessary. It often leads to fatigue of oneself and may lead to nowhere.
  7. Plan family outings or picnics. Meet the people who give joy and feels right to be with. Visit relatives house once in a while and keep a check on them and their lives.


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