Daily stress taking toll on life at home: experts

Updated: 2014-02-06 23:50

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Xiao Yue is, by nature, outgoing. Born under the astrological sign of Aquarius, she finds it easy to communicate and was even termed the ”social queen” by her colleagues and friends.

But these days, things are different. After exhausting days at work, she embraces the sound of silence.

”I'm too tired after 10 hours at work every day and don't want to talk when I get home,” said Xiao, a 26-year-old sales representative for a leading foreign medical company in Shanghai.

A recent poll conducted by China Daily, together with Touchmedia, a provider of media in taxis, found that Xiao's plight is not uncommon.

Among the more than 180,000 taxi passengers surveyed in first-tier cities — in cluding Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen — from Jan 1 to 6, nearly half felt that they have a problem of not wanting to communicate with people when they return home after a tough day at the office or work site.

But this behavior can take a toll on family life, a leading psychologist said, as people who are close to you feel they are shut out.

”Everybody needs close relationships. No matter how busy we are, we need to spend time chatting with our families and close friends to nurture the relationship. If family members rarely talk to each other, and only eat and sleep together, that kind of life won't be pleasant,” said Cui Lijuan, a psychology professor at East China Normal University.

Xiao said work saps her of energy.

Normally she leaves home at 7 am to start work an hour later. She often leaves the office to meet clients and business partners. Keeping to a hectic schedule adds to her pressure.

”When I'm not talking to them face-to-face, I'm talking to them on the phone,” she said.

”I must think over today's main points and targets before visiting clients. I have to talk about not only the contracts but also their families and children to get closer to them,” she said, admitting that juggling all the information in her head can be exhausting.

Xiao's mother, Wang Rongfang, said Xiao has become less talkative at home after working for four years.

”She looks sluggish. Only when she answers calls from her clients on her two mobile phones for work do we catch a glimpse of her energetic work personality.”

Xiao said generally she stays in her room, watching soap operas or doing exercises after getting home and quickly having dinner with her parents. ”That doesn't require talk or brain activity,” she said.

Marriage and family specialists suggest silence, and a reluctance to talk, can be common among couples. A lack of communication is usually a sign of a deteriorating relationship, experts said.

According to the Weiqing International Chain Group Co Ltd, the country's first company to examine the impact of finances on marriage, 75 percent of couples do not enjoy effective communication, including discussing their children, support for the elderly, financial issues and future plans for at least an hour after work as both spouses are too exhausted.

”Some people think their spouses don't understand them when they tell them of their stress and difficulties, and others fear that a quarrel, or unresolved issue, may lead to an escalation of tension, so they keep silent,” said Shu Xin, head of the China Marriage and Family Counseling Center.

Zhang Xiaowei, a makeup artist who lives with his parents, said his home is like a hostel, merely a place to shower and sleep.

”My parents take care of my daily living needs very well. My mother waits for me at home with a table of hot dishes every evening but seldom talks with me when we have dinner,” said 30-year-old Zhang.

”What I'm eager for is spiritual communication but I find it hard to start a conversation with my parents because they don't understand my work and have different values regarding love and marriage,” he said.

Psychological experts said it is unreasonable to demand elderly parents take part in nurturing discussion as retirees have experienced a different way of life from their working children.

But experts also said it is important for elderly parents to have effective communication channels with their working children as this keeps them ”young at heart” and makes them feel valued.

”Communication with children provides parents with incomparable spiritual comfort. Communication meets the needs of not only the speaker but also the listener as it's a way to give love and care,” Cui said.

The less people talk to their parents, the wider the gap between the generations will grow, she said.

”When you don't feel like talking to your parents, think about the pleasure when your children come to talk to you,” Cui said.

Electronic gadgets are another culprit blocking communication at home, according to the survey.

Roughly one in six of those who responded said they felt uncommunicative after work because everybody seems preoccupied with their digital and mobile devices.

”The family atmosphere has been weakened as everybody focuses on their mobile phones or tablets even at dinner,” said Lin Shunzi, a 42-year-old mother in Shanghai.

Psychological experts said everybody desires love and close family bonds to share life's joys and heartache.

To rebuild communication, people should learn to listen and share so that other family members will be encouraged to open their hearts to talk, said Zhou Xiaopeng, a marriage and relationship counselor with Baihe, a major dating website.

”A family day every weekend is a good idea to have more communications and enhance family ties,” Zhou said.

It is also important to put away the phones and tablets, she said.