It’s quite common for stress from one area of your life to seep into other areas. Next time stress in one area of your life threatens to put other relationships at risk, try a “pre-emptive strike.” Before your frustration starts to bubble over, have an honest talk with the people closest to you. Let them know that you are facing a stressful period. Reassure them that it is not about them, but about another issue you’re facing. The conversation may go something like this:
“I’m anticipating a lot of stress over the next two weeks at work. My boss has asked me to complete a project on a short deadline, and I’m working with a colleague that is difficult for me to get along with. I may be grumpier than normal, but I want you to know it’s not about you. While I’ll try not to bring my stress home and take it out on you, you may see the stress on my face and hear it in my voice. I really appreciate your extra patience and understanding during this time.”
These words can help any relationship navigate more smoothly through stressful times. Acknowledging what’s happening and clarifying the cause, in advance, will yield a number of advantages. You’ll be more conscious of your own stress and more able to manage unintentionally inflicting it on others. You will experience your friends and family as allies rather than turning them into additional adversaries by mistreating them. In stressful times we need all the allies we can get. Supportive partners always lighten the load.