Did it happen to you to be agitated without knowing why? Although we do everything we can to alleviate the effects of stress, it is not something we can always control. Absorbing someone else stress is a process very similar to passive smoking. You do not need to smoke to be affected by the damaging effects of this vice – and the same thing happens with stress. Feeling stressed without reason? Here’s why!
When the people around you emanate anxiety, it’s like being in a plane with a smoker. With the difference that, in this case, the ingested poison is of emotional nature. But as soon as we become aware of second-hand stress – or contagious stress – it’s easy to identify it in all aspects of our lives.
How do we identify the contagious stress from the workplace?
We expect to have stress at work, especially when we have deadlines or important sales to be completed.
But have you noticed that you are becoming more and more anxious when you have work colleagues stressed by projects or situations where you are not involved in any way?
And how do you feel like you get sick of the growing tension of others even when your professional life is perfectly balanced?
This is contagious stress.
How to identify contagious stress from home?
For most of us, the home is our comfort and safety area. It is our oasis of calm in which we can relax, refuge, and recharge the batteries.
This paradise, however, can be troubled for the whole family when one of its members is under the influence of stress.
Did it happen to you to get home after a successful day and feel that your mood suddenly changes, because you feel like something is wrong?
Or sit at the table with your family and start feeling more agitated for reasons that you can not understand?
This is contagious stress, again.
How do we identify the contagious stress in the world?
Think about when you waiting in line at a supermarket and the line was moving very slowly.
Perhaps you were calm waiting in line, waiting patiently and dreaming with your eyes open, glad that you have time to wait and that you do not hurry to get anywhere.
Now imagine that the person behind you does not have the same patience as yourself and that he sighs frequently trying to manage his anger.
What feelings does that happening create in your body?
The more the man behind you in line gets anger and loses his patience, the harder is for you to be cool and more stress penetrates in your body, altering your state of calmness. Soon you’ll start to feel agitated and impatient, too.
It’s contagious stress, once again.
4 ways to combat contagious stress
- Detach yourself physically and/or emotionally.
When you are around a person who is stressing out, it is crucial to physically move away from that person.
Studies show that if you are in the vicinity of a person who has a high level of stress, the chances that the person’s stress to be transmitted to you are very high.
And when that person is a loved one or a close friend, an emotional distance is also needed.
It can be difficult, but it is an important protection against feelings that are triggered by contagious stress.
- Remember that stress is not related to you.
Sometimes, no matter how we good we control ourselves, we can not stop wondering if we have triggered the stress in any way.
When it comes to taking the stress from another person, it is important to understand that you are not the source of this stress (for example, it is not your fault that the line from the store goes slowly) and that it has nothing to do with you.
If you focus on this will help you increase your immunity against contagious stress. You can use the ‘mantra’ (affirmation) ‘It’s not about me! It’s not my fault!’.
- Try to involve the stressed person in a conversation.
This advice seems strange, but often the source of contagious stress does not realize it is emitting negative energies.
Initiating a conversation (about anything) diffuses the person’s stress and thus will also help you calm down, too.
It is important to remember that trying to help others to relax will not always have the desired success. If this happens, it takes into account that you can only control your own reactions and try to take into account the advice in point 2.
- Control your reaction to stress.
You can’t easily control the stress of the people around you.
What you can do, however, is to adapt your own reaction to stress.
Modifying how you physically and emotionally reactions to contagious stress is a powerful tool you can combat.
One way this can be done is visualization. When you feel the contagious stress, visualize yourself surrounded by a wall that is impenetrable to stress.
Another possible remedy is ‘killing the stress gently’ or smiling kindly to the stressed person as a form of defense.
Smile releases endorphins and is contagious, just like yawning.