When it comes to stress I like to use the Goldilocks theory. Too little and we lose our drive and become bored. Too much and things become overwhelming, we feel out of control and our mental, physical and emotional health suffers. But just the right amount and it challenges us, drives us and forces us to grow!
For most of us, I’d say it’s probably a pretty safe bet to say we’re tipping towards the high side of the equation, if not most of the time, at least some of the time. So any way of avoiding extra stress would be a welcome idea.
A new concept that is gaining ground is the theory that you can actually “catch” stress from other people.
As crazy as it may initially sound, some new research (Psychoneuroendocrinology Journal) has come out showing that stress may be contagious. Just by watching someone else go through a stressful situation you can have a hormonal stress response in your body. They call it an “empathic” stress response. So just by watching someone else, either a stranger or someone close to you in a stressful situation it can cause your body to release stress hormones. It can even happen by watching a stressful situation on TV.
We’ve all heard the saying that laughter can be contagious. Well it’s actually true and so is happiness and positivity. By surrounding yourself with happy positive people, and situations, you will physiologically reap the rewards as well. The more positive the thoughts are that circulate through your mind, the higher the levels of your natural “happy hormones” that will flow through your body
Negativity breeds negativity just as positivity breeds positivity. So spending a lot of your time with people that are pessimistic, always complaining about things and getting themselves in stressful situations through their own fault, may not be the best of ideas for your own stress levels and general wellbeing. So on the flip side, if you have people in your life that are happy and positive, maybe you should share some extra time with them. The same goes for what you read, watch on TV and even perhaps your work environment.
If you want LESS STRESS in your life, you need to steer clear of avoidable stressful situations and people like they’re a contagious disease! This may mean cutting certain people out of your life or cutting down on how much time you spend with them. It may just be a simple matter of not watching the news while you eat dinner or it may be as drastic as changing jobs or restructuring your team at work. “Empathic stress” affects all of us differently, some of us can cut off and not get affected at all by others, where as some of us take all the stress on board. You need to make the assessment and decide for yourself to protect your own well-being.
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