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Our Staff on Stress

Women and Stress - Dr. Jennifer Thomas

Dr. John Gottman has said that stress is concern about the PRESENT whereas worry is concern about the FUTURE.  Given the present economic turmoil, many women feel concern about both of these! 

I'm seeing and hearing about women whose jobs are quite uncertain now.  Even for those whose jobs are stable, any layoffs at work create stress:   “Must I deliver the bad news to someone who works under me?”  “What will happen to Jane who has been let go?”  “How will I carry the extra work load?”

For those who are married, I know first-hand how hard it can be to handle a spouse's unemployment.  While I normally share my feelings quite freely with my husband, I hesitated to do so when he was laid off.  How could I further burden him with my own concerns and sadness?  I tried to keep a stiff upper lip while relying heavily on the Lord and my friends for comfort. 

In such times, counseling is very helpful in providing support and preparing plans for the future.

Men and Stress - Dr. Joe Verga

  • An important thing to keep in mind about men and stress is the degree to which they derive their identity from work and from providing
  • Men thrive on respect so genuine affirmation will go a long way toward keeping their stress down and their motivation up
  • Men need challenges in all arenas: spiritually, mentally, and physically—to feel fully alive and engaged. 
  • Honest friendships can be difficult to find but are crucial to helping men find balance and perspective, allowing them to handle stress better

Marriage and Stress - Dr. Karolyn Thompson
There may be universal signs of chronic stress in a marital relationship, especially during economic downturn or unemployment. However, the couple’s ability to recognize specific effects on the health of the marriage is critical during such challenging circumstances. These are signs that a relationship is undergoing negative drift due to stress.

  • Increase in argument or their intensity.
  • Increased feelings of being deprived.
  • Increase in defensiveness.
  • Perceived lack of trust or respect.
  • Increased reliance on criticism.
  • Decreased sharing of feelings with spouse.

When a couple’s efforts have been insufficient to improve the circumstances, then it is time to think about ways to alleviate the effects of chronic stress.  Also, maintain the strength of your marriage by praying with your spouse and seeking professional help.

  • Be a good listener for your spouse.
  • Increase emotional intimacy.
  • Offer support and encouragement.
  • Balance the positives and the negatives.
  • Focus on problem solving.
  • Be honest in expressing feelings.

Adolescents and Stress - Dr. Heath Greene

Up to this point, adolescents whom I see in my practice do not seem to be showing signs of stress due to the economic environment.  Part of this, however, may be due to the fact that developmentally adolescents are very self-focused.  This is how they relate to the world during these growing-up years.

Some of the teens I see are not motivated and don’t see a reason to work at things. They often see what’s happening now as unrelated to their life in the future.   Their view is something like—“Why do I need to worry about this …?  I know everything will work out in the end.”  I encourage parents to provide teens with more opportunities to take ownership and responsibility for their own lives.

I believe that the time at which they will begin to feel the stress is when it impacts their lives directly.  Examples would be when parents need to limit pocket money, cell phone usage or text messaging, etc.  Getting a summer job may be more difficult this year although many will not be disappointed not to find one.  This would be a good opportunity for parents to encourage volunteering somewhere.  Not only would it look good on a resume it will provide positive self-worth to be contributing something to others.

Children and Stress - Mrs. Teresa Tindall, LPC

Stress can affect young children through their sleep patterns, memory, mood, health, growth and the functioning of their immune system. Children are quick to pick up on their parents’ stress as well as what they hear from the media.

There are several things a family can work on to lessen children’s’ stress:

  • Anxiety takes advantage of energy lows. Setting a bedtime schedule/routine helps with stress levels giving a child a consistent routine thus control and comfort.
  • Anxious children are stressed and much of their worry comes from TV, radio, computer/game time and classroom chats. Scale back on television watching, etc., to monitor stress levels.
  • Address any misconceptions such as “I got in an argument with Dad before he went to work and Daddy lost his job. It's my fault.”
  • Kids need to feel safe, loved and protected. As a family there may need to be some changes such as not eating out as much, or cutting back o the number of activities.  Use this as a positive time of reconnecting at home.

Domestic Violence and Stress - Ms. Dodie Caudill, LPC

For most people chronic stress turns inward resulting in physical ailments such as headaches or heart attacks or emotional difficulties such as anxiety or depression.  For a few chronic stress may be turned outward.

Domestic violence is about having power and control over a significant other person.  Financial uncertainty, unemployment or rising expenses may leave a person feeling out of control.  It may lead them to seek to control, in unhealthy ways, over someone near them.  Recent headlines have included tragic stories of murder/suicides of whole families when financial collapse was looming.

As stress adds to tension and difficulties in a marriage, some see separation or divorce as a solution in the heat of the moment.  Sadly, this just trades one set of stressors for another and may actually increase stress rather than relieve it.

No one should remain in an unsafe situation.  If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, get help. See a counselor for direction. Call Family Services for help. Call the police for safety.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.

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