The beginning or end of a relationship is always a time of tension and turmoil. Likewise, any change in your life can cause stress: a new job, starting college, even a vacation. Although change puts spice in our lives, all change demands some adjustment.
But did you realize that too much change of any sort can jeopardize your health? Even events that we welcome may require major changes in our routines and adaptation to new requirements. Your health can be directly impacted by stress, or rather, your reaction to that stress. While you may not be able to literally give yourself a heart attack due to stress, your health can be negatively impacted by poorly handling stress.
Studies reveal that one of the most desired changes in a married couple’s life, the birth of their first child, is also a source of major stress, contributing to reduced marital satisfaction for many couples.
On the other hand, stress may result more from anticipating events than from living with them. For example, a review of research on the psychological responses to abortion reveals that distress is generally greatest before the abortion. Severe distress is low for most women following the abortion of an unwanted pregnancy, especially if they have had social support for their decision. Stress infiltrates nearly aspect of our lives, especially the big decisions that we worry over.
In general, significant levels of stress can result from any important life change, but people vary considerably in the ways they respond to change in their lives. Sometimes people can absorb stress and keep on functioning. We call these people “resilient” or that they have a “survivor personality.” They seem to be able to bounce back even under heavy stress or catastrophe in their lives. Their reactions depend on their resources and the contexts in which stress occurs.
If you have the money, time, and friends to help you pick up and go on after a disruption, you will certainly fare better than someone for whom more bad news is the last straw in a series of setbacks they have faced alone. But you may also have a personality type that responds very well naturally to stress.
The key is to not underestimate stress and its impact on your life, even during positive, happy events. Buying a new home or getting married are wonderful events in your life — but they also some of the most stressful and most difficult to handle. Deal with stress as it comes in a healthy, positive manner, and your overall health will thank you later for it.