Difficulty communicating with certain people and reaching agreements. Co-workers who complicate almost any task instead of making it easy. Relatives who burden us with their problems and negativity. We could give a thousand examples of interpersonal stress, of those situations that generate high psychological suffering when dealing with certain figures in our environment.

We are not wrong in saying that a good part of our levels of well-being, satisfaction and happiness depend on the daily interaction with those around us. The family, work and leisure spheres completely constitute that psychological support capable of promoting calm or storm, balance or worries. It is also clear that having friction from time to time is normal.

However, there are times when it is enough to experience tensions, problems and discrepancies in one of these scenarios (for example, the workplace) to affect the rest. Because interpersonal problems erode morale, linger in the mind, and can even affect dealing with those other figures with whom we do get along.

What's more, we can't ignore a fact either: stress that we don't handle can become chronic and health is affected. We analyze it.

Interpersonal stress: what it is, symptoms and coping

Stress is like the fog that emerges from those more problematic situations that we usually face. Unemployment, an emotional breakdown, bills and mortgages to pay, work or academic pressure ... There are hundreds of triggers of this mental condition. Now, one of the most common has to do with the people around us.

A complicated emotional relationship is a fertile scenario for constant worry and anguish. As is also burnout or burned worker syndrome. Interactions with people are not always easy and interpersonal stress has a high impact on physical and psychological well-being.

What is interpersonal stress?

Tsukasa Kato, professor of psychology at the University of Tokyo, explains to us in a study that interpersonal stress is the result of a complex combination of several factors. They are as follows:

  • It arises as a result of several stressful episodes between two or more people in which discrepancies and communication problems appear.
  • The discussions are frequent.
  • Negative attitudes or behaviors are evidenced by either of the two parties.
  • An uncomfortable atmosphere marked by adverse emotions is created among this group of people.
  • These interactions raise concern even when the other person is not in front of you.

On the other hand, it should also be noted that interpersonal stress can appear at work, between groups of friends, between couples, family, in academic and school settings, etc.

What symptoms does it present?

Stress, whatever the source, manifests itself in multiple ways. Thus, and although it is true that each person has their own more or less skillful coping resources, we can identify a series of obvious manifestations. They are as follows.

Emotional symptoms

  • Irritability and anger.
  • Sometimes we can feel fear. There are people who can provoke this emotion in us by their attitude and behavior.
  • Feeling of frustration, of not knowing what to do.
  • Loss of confidence in those figures.
  • Negative self-perception for not knowing how to handle these situations.

Cognitive symptoms

  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Thought always ends up focusing on the problems we have with these people.
  • It is common to imagine almost every moment what we could say or do to make that situation end.
  • We replay in our minds every conversation we have had with these stressful figures.
  • We feel confused and mentally exhausted.

Behavioral symptoms

  • Interpersonal stress is also expressed in behavior, altering it in many ways. Among the most common are insomnia and changes in eating habits (we eat more or our appetite goes away).

Physical symptoms

The physical symptoms associated with this psychological condition are usually quite extensive. However, it depends above all on the time we are subjected to these sources (people) of stress. The more months we have been maintaining that complicated interaction with these people, the more intense the effects.

  • Headaches
  • Stomach ache.
  • Muscle or back pain
  • Tachycardia
  • Greater tendency to get sick due to a weaker immune system.

How can we handle this type of stress related to social relationships?

When it comes to addressing, managing, and reducing interpersonal stress, we have more than one challenge. For example, someone may have a troubled relationship with bosses, co-workers, or certain family members. However, we cannot always permanently distance ourselves from those people who stress us out with their behavior and attitude.

Therefore, we are obliged to develop adequate "survival" techniques to deal effectively with these situations. These would be some examples.

  • We must learn stress inoculation techniques (training aimed at identifying stressful figures and situations and reducing their impact effectively and intelligently).

  • Time management. It is necessary to organize our schedule to compensate for these stressful situations with moments of quality and well-being.

  • Learn conflict resolution strategies.

  • Learn to set healthy boundaries.

  • Develop adequate assertive communication techniques.

  • Accept what we cannot change and prioritize ourselves.

  • Systematic desensitization: dynamics to learn to face these stressful situations and respond mentally with relaxation and control.

  • Breathing techniques.

  • Learn emotional management and regulation skills.

To conclude, all these psychological dynamics can be learned little by little and day by day. Doing so is a daily lifesaver with which to improve our situation with these problematic figures. Throughout our lives we will always find people to disagree with, presences that bring more winds than sunny days. Knowing how to handle them is a survival strategy.

"What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens."

-Thaddeus Golas-

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