A new survey suggests the benefits of a positive romantic relationship in our lives, and how it can help buffer us against the stress of our jobs.
Of the approximately 900 people who took part in the survey, those who felt they had a good relationship experienced that they enjoyed better health than those who had a more problematic relationship.
Women with a poorly-functioning relationship experienced more anxiety, mental stress reactions and sleeping difficulties than women who had a good relationship. Men who had a mediocre relationship had a higher incidence of depression, anxiety, psychological and somatic stress reactions than men with worse or better relationships.
“The relationship reduces the negative effects of this kind of stress on our health. But poor relationships will amplify the negative effects,” noted Ann-Christine Andersson Arntén at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
“A positive approach and successful stress-management techniques also help to reduce the negative effects of work-related stress.”
She also found that stressful experiences both at work and in the relationship increases the risk of burn-out and poor health.
One explanation can be that people living with a mediocre relationship take more responsibility to improve the relationship, while those with poor relationships just admit it, and don’t feel they can do anything about it.
Our bodies recover from stress by having time to recover without any new or existing stressors. If there is no opportunity to recover because the work doesn’t allow for breaks and lunches, the body’s reserves are emptied, and poor health ensues. The same principle applies when a person takes work home, frequently works overtime or has recurring quarrels and problems in his or her relationship.
The effects of the sometimes small but recurring stress situations of everyday life sneak up on a person, who at first does not even notice them. The person under stress adapts and tries to accommodate the demands and changes he or she face, until one day, there is such a great imbalance, that massive efforts are needed just to manage everyday life.
“The risk is that we don’t realize things are not right until we get to that point. Our work and required social interactions demand much too much of us. Our relationship is strained to the breaking point, and we’ve used the last drop of the energy reserves we once had.”
According to Arntén, not taking time to recover can lead to impaired physical and mental health and cognitive and concentration problems, which reduce performance and problem-solving ability.
“And this leads to consequences both at home and at work,” said Arntén.
Source: University of Gothenburg