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How to Reduce Stress by Improving Your Communication

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How to Reduce Stress by Improving Your Communication

How to Reduce Stress by Improving Your Communication

A post from our Stress Management blog

      Written by Kerry Watts
Although there is a small percentage of the population that seem to thrive on stress, most people don't like it, and are impacted negatively by it. It can cripple us so that we can't function effectively in our day to day lives. Even those individuals that seem to enjoy a bit of stress, can't cope with excessive amounts of stress. (They actually just have a slightly higher threshold for it than others, but get to the right levels, and they suffer just as much.)

Rather than it just being a minor grievance or ‘one of those things' we just kind of have to deal with, it's a lot more dangerous than that. What's more, it's more widespread than you may imagine.

According to a study funded by the Mental Health Foundation for YouGov in related to stress across the UK, around 74% of all adults in the United Kingdom have experienced stress so seriously that they felt unable to cope and overwhelmed. Despite findings like that, or the fact that stress is one of the biggest public health issues of our modern world, it's still not treated as seriously as other health concerns, particularly those that affect us physically.

Stress is a contributing cause of depression, anxiety and many other mental health problems. While that may be fairly obvious, stress is also linked with physical health troubles issues like digestive conditions, insomnia, immune system disorders and even heart disease. Given the negative impact stress can have on your physical health, it's worth paying close attention to any way you can reduce it.

One of the most effective ways to reduce stress is actually by improving your communication.

The striking thing is that it doesn't matter whether your stressors in life are related to work, romantic relationships or familial issues. You'll often find that part of the cause for the stress in the first place was a lack of good and effective communication. While it's not possible to suggest that your life will completely free from stress if you just communicate better, it will reduce it considerably.

To help you see just how much stress is connected to how we communicate, I'm going to look at the ways reducing stress is possible by improving communication.

Good Communication Reduces and Prevents Stress Inducing Mistakes

In a business environment, poor communication can be the source of a lot of stress. Whether it's you receiving directions or you giving directions to someone else, if work requests are not communicated effectively, it can lead to mistakes. Mistakes can then lead to unhappy clients and customers, deadlines being missed. All of which leads to stress.

When mistakes at work happen that need to be rectified quickly, you and your colleagues are all on red alert. Often a lot of this kind of stress is avoidable if directions and requests were communicated effectively in the first place. With good communication, everyone knows what they are supposed to do and when.

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Good Communication Improves Productivity

Sticking with the workplace for the moment, effective communication can also reduce workloads and improve productivity, which in turn reduces stress. We've all been there, haven't we? When there's a huge pile of work on our desks and because we get waylaid, that adds significant amount of pressure onto us which transforms into stress. By communicating better though, that stress can be avoided.

Just as less mistakes occur when requests and instructions are communicated well, productivity is increased. If you are snowed under by work and need help, communicating this in a polite and respectful manner may result in you getting the help you need. That help will lighten your load and stop stress from even arising.

Good Communications Reduces Problems in Relationships

Relationships take a lot of effort to make them work. We're not just referring to romantic and sexual relationships here - friendships require work and effort too. Part of the work involved in making relationships successful is communication. When you and your partner are not communicating effectively, that's when problems start to occur, and when stress comes into play.

For example, say your partner has arranged for his or her parents to come and visit. Although they have agreed that they'll be okay to come in the morning, if your partner hasn't properly communicated to you that there's a specific time of day they are coming, it could lead to a lot of stress for you. Stress involving not being prepared for the visitors, be it around the house or just mentally. That stress can lead to arguments and unnecessary fallouts.

Likewise, when expressing your feelings to your partner, you need to be careful with how you word things. When feelings are involved, things have a habit of becoming heated very quickly. When you don't take their emotions and feelings into consideration, you could easily upset them and cause a lot of stress for both of you.

Good Communication Means Less Arguments and Fighting

Following on from the above, though it's connected, it really deserves to be highlighted separately because it's incredibly serious. Regardless of what they are about or who they involve, most arguments, fights and disagreements are caused by poor communication. Think about that last term for a moment – disagreements. There's nothing wrong with not always agreeing with what another person says. Part of the joyous thing about human beings is that we are all individual and unique in our way. We therefore have strong opinions that are not always shared by others. That is perfectly fine.

However, things go wrong when our opinions or thoughts on a matter are badly communicated. Often the actual fact that they have been communicated at all can be cause for fights and arguments. Fights and arguments, regardless of what side you are on, lead to stress. Stress that could have been avoided by using effective communication.

Good Communication is a Two Way Street

One final aspect of communication that I'd like to address is that it is a two way street. Communication means that one person is transmitting a message, and another person is interpreting and understanding the message.

Good communication means that both side are doing their part in ensuring that the understandings are correct.

However, one aspect of communication that causes stress is where the two parties may not equally initiate communication. I'm sure you've heard the line, "S/he just won't open up to me." You may get somebody that is perfectly fine at responding to communication (i.e. the receiver of the message), but they're not as good at initiating communication. If you're looking to reduce stress by improving your communication, that means that you have to focus on both aspects of communication: how you receive, understand and respond, and then how you initiate communication. If you reach a good balance of this in each of your relationships, this significantly reduces stress.

In conclusion, it may be true that in some situations in life, it's impossible to completely eliminate stress. Some scenarios we all face are just inherently stressful. But you can reduce your stress by improving the manner in which you communicate. I hope I've have been able to show from the post above that it's possible to reduce stress dramatically, just by taking the time and making the effort to communicate more effectively.

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