Is Stress Contagious?
Yes, stress is contagious, almost as much like the flu or any other viral disease. Recent studies have revealed that individuals knowingly or unknowingly transmit stress to any other individual, which explains why when you talk to someone who is going through a stressful time, makes you feel all the stress and anxiety at the same time.
It is no coincidence when you and everyone in the room start feeling stressed after watching someone fumble and stutter while providing a presentation in front of a room full of people. But why does this happen? This phenomenon has been explained by Tony Buchanan, Ph.D. who is heading the Trier Social Stress Test project.
Buchanan is of the opinion that this phenomenon occurs because of our survival instincts, it is hardwired in us, which is why we cannot escape it. Humans and animals are alike in the sense that we both tend to live in groups. When one member of the group becomes agitated, the other members of the group pick up on this as a danger sign and start preparing to face a threat.
Although we no longer need to be afraid of being mangled to death by a predator, we still are going to pick on the emotions of the others and be affected by it. The study just shows how much we are affected by our surroundings and others’ emotions.
A different study further states that the way we deal with stress differs from individual to individual. Interestingly, the way our brain picks up these signs is very similar to that of mice, but when it comes to handling stress there was a difference between the female mice and the male mice.
How to deal with it?
Stress can make you feel emotionally drained. It involves all the negative emotions ranging from anxiety to frustration. You cannot entirely avoid feeling stressed but there are ways you can cope with it. Here we present you some research-backed coping mechanisms for the times when you feel extremely stressed.
1) Distance yourself from the source of negative emotions
If you know who is causing you to feel stressed, physically distance yourself from the source. Cut the source off entirely, as there is no alternative to conscious self-care when it comes to stress. This will help you to keep from catching such negative emotions which are not good for your mental as well as physical well-being.
2) Head out to take in some fresh air
Isolating yourself in your apartment will do more harm than good. People who tend to isolate themselves often report feeling unnecessarily stressed and develop a lot of other mental disorders.
When you are feeling suffocating with all the negative emotions. Stop whatever you are doing and step out from your place. Go for a walk in a nearby field or just sit at the bench in the park watching the ducks in the pond. It is scientifically proven that being in nature calms your nerves and if going out isn’t an option simply watch some nature videos or listen to some atmospheric sounds.
3) Indulge in your favorite hobbies
You can also do something that you like, a hobby, or anything that provides you a distraction and makes you happy. Some people find solace in reading, painting, knitting, listening to music, or indulging in an in-house spa experience, while others might find shopping to be therapeutic. If you are among the latter, head out to the mall or your favorite vintage store, get yourself a cute top or new diamond earrings!
4) Talk it out
Sharing your thoughts and emotions with someone you trust helps a great deal in reducing stress. The more you share, the less burdened you feel.
We generally look for a support system, where we can express what we are feeling to someone who we can trust and who we know will understand us. If you have someone like that, vent it out. But be sure to not overburden them to the point where they also get affected by your stress.
5) Don’t get emotionally involved
When you become too emotionally involved, you will end up feeling responsible for that person. You will try to go out of your way to help that person and fix his or her problem and when you will fail to do that, you will feel bad. This is not healthy.
Try to be emotionally distant, while being attentive and respectful to someone’s problem. If you practice emotional distance, you will be much less affected by his or her stress.
6) Exercise and exercise
None of the above mentioned calming methods worked for you? Then maybe exercise is the only way you can handle your stress.
As studies show, when you take part in any physical activity, your body releases happy chemicals or the feel-good hormones which are called endorphins. As doctors will tell you these are natural painkillers. So whenever you are feeling stressed, run some laps, or turn on the tv and put on a Zumba class and follow the steps!
While stress is not always good, researchers also state that stress is not always bad either. Sometimes this stress can help you keep on track without procrastinating.