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Unnecessary Conflict – How Daily Hassles Contribute to Stress Reactions

What are your daily hasslesIn our daily lives, we often encounter stress and do not recognize it for what it actually is or give ourselves the space to manage it effectively. Stress can be triggered by overwhelming work and life responsibilities. When left un-managed, stress can affect the interactions between family members and friends creating unnecessary tensions and conflict. For example, have you found yourself lashing out at a loved one, and not sure why? Or come home from work, school, or even a shopping trip in a foul mood? You may be experiencing stress or anxiety. Stress can produce psychological reactions like nervousness, worrying, frustration, and other negative emotions such as anger, sadness, and loneliness.

I recently started an argument with a family member, not because it was warranted, but because I let the stress of the day get to me. One evening after working and attending evening classes I received a call from my cousin who was excited to discuss travel arrangements for an upcoming trip. When I answered the phone, I was short and barely listened to her. Sensing this, she asked what was wrong. At the time I was not aware why I was behaving that way. In fact, I was actually excited about the upcoming trip, but my psychological reaction to the stressors I had experienced that day overrode the excitement

Stresses that are regularly occurring in our day-to-day lives are called daily hassles. Professor and researcher, Richard S. Lazarus grouped the daily hassles as follows:
• Household hassles: cooking, cleaning, household upkeep, and shopping
• Health hassles: illness, concerns regarding health care and medicine
• Time-pressure hassles: not enough time in the day to get all responsibilities done
• Inner-core hassles: loneliness
• Environmental hassles: crime, traffic, living arrangements
• Financial responsibility hassles: money concerns
• Work hassles: conflict with co-workers and job dissatisfaction
• Future security hassles: concerns regarding retirement, taxes, and the economy

In reflection, I had experienced environmental hassles from the daily commute from work to school and time-pressure hassles. During the day I was concerned about making it to class on time, I was worried about the work I left at the office, and struggled to find time to eat dinner. So when I arrived home all I wanted to do was relax, get something to eat, and then go to sleep. Instead of recognizing the daily hassles I had experienced that day, I unconsciously projected my frustrations on to my cousin.

Next time you have a negative reaction to a family member, friend or co-worker ask yourself: How many daily hassles have I experienced today? Are these hassles temporary or permanent? You may also listen to the podcast on the Texas Conflict Coach® by Brady Mikusko called Stress Reduction Using EFT – At Work or Home to learn tools to handle stress and reduce negative emotions to prevent future and unnecessary conflicts.

By Tracy Culbreath
Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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