Finding someone to share our lives is a natural part of living, like eating and drinking. Yet the stress of actually seeking that person, dating a stranger and setting up home with them is often entirely underestimated. People are just expected to take any fall out or break up in their stride, often without support, while getting on with their work or other aspects of their lives, seemingly unaffected.
Stress affects everyone to some degree, but severe stress is a feeling of being unable to cope and is a reaction to excessive demands and pressures made upon the individual. It is most likely to be maintained by a feeling of personal rejection, insignificance and worthlessness. National Statistics in Britain have reported that approximately one in six adults (excluding those in institutions) has some form of mental health problem, the most common being anxiety with depression caused by stress.
Stress is usually short, sporadic or intermittent, designed to sharpen up our capabilities in coping with life and to improve our resilience. In most cases we do just fine in reacting to it. However, it is when stress continues for long periods that trouble looms, especially when it is caused by the presence or absence of someone else. Stress can rob you of your good looks, your disposition, your health, your youthfulness, and can even take your life.
It is particularly unpleasant and harmful when:
* pressures build up or are prolonged indefinitely;
* we are unable to control the demands placed upon us;
* we are constantly anxious;
* we feel alone and unwanted;
* support is not there when we need it.
However, what has escaped everyone's notice is the lethal level of stress caused by simply moving between relationships, especially where the desire for a break is not mutual, or where one is stuck in a relationship which makes one or both parties feel impotent, unhappy or simply miserable. Add to that, the constant search for a partner in the first place, when the rules of engagement have changed beyond recognition, and we have a never ending cycle of emotional discomfort which can lead to extreme forms of stress. Because of their continuing regularity, these situations are often taken for granted as a necessary part of life but their actual effects can be most debilitating in people ill-equipped to cope with their emotional needs.
Sadly, wherever stress is recurrent and overwhelming, it can become life-threatening and does affect our health, particularly in lowering individual resistance to fighting illnesses. If nothing is done to reduce such emotional stress, we can be affected by a whole range of ailments, of which the short-term ones may include headaches, sleeping difficulties, irritability, depression, forgetfulness, lack of concentration, increased consumption of alcohol, aggression or social isolation. Long-term stress is likely to cause stomach pains, panic attacks, worsening of asthma, strokes, mental breakdown, heart attacks, family breakdown or suicide, among numerous other problems.
Considering the relentless increase in states of depression down the years, stress, especially emotional stress relating to dating and relationships, is certainly not a subject to be taken lightly.
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH) 2011
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Respect and love begin with the self. If we have none, how can we give away any?"