Mental Health

Empathizing With Loved Ones During Stressful Situations

Stress and OCD | Libero Magazine 4
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Getting our priorities right is a constant process and we always have to stay vigilant at it. It never involves placing blame. We must always make an effort to do a better job of communicating with the people we love every day.

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Stressful situations can make us difficult to be around. You may think no one else can get that project done in time or you are the only one “trying” in the relationship, but the reality is, the people we love tend to take the brunt of our stress more often than not.

Trying to comfort or connect with a loved one who is under a lot of stress can be like talking to a brick wall. Everything we say bounces right off them.

When we are in stressful situations, we also get selfish.

Other people’s problems and conflicts diminish in importance when compared to our own. When our spouse or friend tries to connect with us because we aren’t giving them the attention and affection they need, we just think of it as another drain on our faculties.

We start to think about how there “isn’t a deadline to meeting their needs” or “if they really cared about me they would give me space!” In doing this, we lose sight of what’s important, because we can only focus on the problem in front of us.

The biggest mistake we make when we’re stressed is thinking that once we address the crisis, everything will go back to “normal.”


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The fact is there will always be another crisis, another problem, that demands our immediate attention.

We can cultivate patience, self-discipline, and healthy habits to help us cope with stress, but we have to accept stress is always going to be a reality. If we accept stress and stop viewing it as a problem to solve, or an ailment to medicate, we can get our focus back on what’s most important in our lives: relationships.

The hard part is communicating in the moment we are actually stressed.

When I feel stressed, my wife will often ask “to go for a walk.” If there’s a lot on my mind, I tend to pace, and more often than not, I don’t feel like sitting down for a discussion. Going on walks lets me stay on the move, and in turn, facilitates deeper conversation between me and my wife because I feel more comfortable sharing my thoughts (not to mention that evening walks in Tennessee are pleasant and relaxing).

On these walks, we might stroll past different homes for sale in the neighborhood (particularly the fixer-uppers) and talk about what projects we would have for them. We talk about careers, kids, dreams, and most importantly, we laugh.

Stress and OCD | Libero 4
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I’m sure to many newly-married men and women, talking about kids and buying a house sounds like the most stressful thing you could think of, and to be honest, it still can be for me as well.

But what makes those walks with my wife so rejuvenating is that we aren’t really talking about buying our dream home, or working out the details of a five year plan, or how we need to pay off student loans.

We are reminding each other that our family is our number one priority.

That no matter how difficult life can get, we are in it for the long haul.

Every time we get back from one of those walks, whatever was bothering me starts to feel very small in comparison to building a life together with my wife.

When you are comforting a loved one who is under a lot of stress, I challenge you to discover ways to remind them of what’s important. It might just be going out to dinner together or laughing at an inside joke.

Getting our priorities right is a constant process and we always have to stay vigilant at it.

It never involves placing blame. We must always make an effort to do a better job of communicating with the people we love every day.

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Josh Shook grew up near Houston, Texas but now calls Nashville, Tennessee home. He began his time in Nashville at Belmont University, graduating with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Music Business and Production. He released an EP in 2013, then added author to his resumé when he published a book with his older brother in the same year. Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own was influenced by life growing up in church. In the book, Josh and his brother talk facing tough questions and letting go of “how things are supposed to be.” He hopes to continue to share from his life experience through writing about his journey through self-injury and depression. Day to day, you can most often find Josh making music and drinking black coffee (anytime, anywhere). He also may or may not proudly wear the title of labradoodle enthusiast. You can blame his hilariously adorable family dogs, Tumnus and Aslan. What’s more important than music, dogs, and coffee? Not much. But Josh’s wife-to-be, Kelli, takes precedence. They are busy planning their upcoming nuptials and learning how to avoid burning dinner while cooking together.

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