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Caree Brown L.C.S.W. Psychotherapy

Individual, Couples, & Family Therapy


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Stress and Relationships


Stress can wreak a lot of havoc on your physical, mental and emotional health.  Chronic stress is attributed to be one of the causes of many of the physical and psychological ailments that many suffer with on a daily basis.  However, stress and relationships also have a strong, and sometimes troubling connection.

Here are just some of the ways stress and relationships are intertwined.

  • Distraction (Not Being Present or Available) – Stress can take up a lot of your thoughts and energy. The result is that you become extremely distracted and unavailable to those around you.  You may be caught up and lost in thought, trying to remain distracted by gluing yourself to the television or your smartphone, or you’re physically not available by trying to stay busy and avoid things at home These all will begin to wear on a relationship.
  • Fights & Arguments – One of the common ways that stress affects relationships is when partners begin to take out their stress on one another. The result is arguing, anger and hurt feelings.
  • Depression and Anxiety – Stress is a major contributing factor to those that suffer with depression and anxiety. This can lead to a number of other symptoms and issues in relationships as the result of battling the physical, mental and emotional troubles that come with these disorders.
  • Substance Abuse – Stress can become a trigger for individuals to turn towards other means of managing stress that can lead to addictive behaviors, such as drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Lowered Libido – Stress can lead to a lowered sex drive. Especially if some of the other issues listed above are present, it can be difficult for a partner to have the desire to be intimate with a partner.
  • Begin to Wander – Combining the cause of the stress plus all of the stress that can come from the above factors, this can potentially lead to a partner beginning to wander and look elsewhere outside of the relationship. If you’re stressed out and unhappy, and if some of your stress is caused by issues with your partner, looking for companionship and intimacy with someone else outside of the relationship can be tempting—and, unfortunately, a reality for some.

It is easy to see how stress, when unmanaged and not addressed properly, can dramatically affect a relationship.  It can become a vicious cycle that perhaps once started with an outside stress, but then brought home and into the relationship, where it continues to add stress and so on.

The fact is, stress is inevitable.  No matter who you are—how much money you have, how you look, how smart you may be, or what you do for a living—there’s no way to avoid or get around from having some kind of stress in your life.   It can be anything from the day-to-day stresses (e.g. traffic, conflict with a friend, deadlines at work) or a much larger, long-term stress (e.g. financial trouble, insecurity or distrust in a romantic partner, getting over things from your past), stress is there.

Acknowledging and accepting that stress is going to happen is the first step.  The next is figuring out how to better manage and respond to the stress thrown your way.

Identify What is Bothering You

One of the best things that you can do to combat stress is to identify exactly what it is that is bothering you.  Often times, people experience stress and react to it without fully understanding what it is that’s bothering them.  Identifying what is causing you stress is the only way to make potential solutions a reality. At the very least, giving your stress an identity will help you better understand yourself.

Talk it Out

Talking about things that are stressful can be very difficult or painful.  People don’t want to burden others with their problems or concerns for fear of coming off negative.  However, in your close relationships, by not talking about what’s bothering you, those types of things find a way of coming out anyways. Finding a healthy outlet to be able to verbalize what’s causing you stress is a great way to help relieve some of the effects that stress can cause on you.

It’s also important for you to ask for what you need from your partner.  If you just need someone to listen, without providing any advice, then make sure that your partner is aware of that before you vent about what’s bothering you.  If you wish to get their input and advice, then ask for that as well.  This is a great way to ensure that you get what you need from talking it out.

Basic Self-Care

The three keys to basic self-care are diet, exercise and rest (sleep).  These are all of the things that are within your own control, for the most part.  Going back to these basics for taking care of yourself when you’re stressed is a great way to make sure that you’re nourishing yourself from the inside out with a balanced diet, utilizing activity to generate natural feel-good hormones called endorphins, and getting the necessary rest needed to manage your stress and have the energy to get through your day.


Meditation is a great way to help manage stress.  From the breathing techniques to the guidance provided throughout some of the meditative series available, there’s a lot of value to practicing meditation on a daily basis.  The mobile app, Calm, is a great meditation resource that can help you manage stress.

Couple’s Therapy in San Francisco

Last, but certainly not least, it is helpful to know when you may need to seek the help of a professional to help you with through some of your stress and relationships.  A therapist is great for talking out stress that you’re experiencing, particularly if that stress is caused by or the result of your partner.  Couples therapy in San Francisco is also helpful to work through issues between you and your partner and the impact that stress is having on the relationship.

For further assistance on managing stress and how it can impact your relationships, contact Caree Brown.  With couples therapy in San Francisco and much more, you don’t have to learn how to manage and deal with stress on your own.  Help is out there!

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