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Is Stress Contagious? Ways To Inoculate Yourself From Stress

Stress can pass from person-to-person like bad germs!

Work And career
| Contributor Content| UPDATED: April 30, 2018, 1:10 PM IST
Is Stress Contagious? Ways To Inoculate Yourself From Stress (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ fizkes/ Istock.com)
Stress is communicable, more than the common cold. Have you ever noticed that sharing a cubicle with someone who is chronically stressed, or passing by your boss who is stressed for not meeting numbers, leaves you stressed too? As per experts, stress is contagious and spreads due to the very nature of human beings. Humans amongst other animals read stress/threat signals from their fellows.

Imagine someone running in panicky and you’ll immediately follow him or look for some signals behind thinking that there might be a case of fire, some burglars or any other perceived threat. Same is the case with stress; though the impact may be less than visible as in the aforementioned example.

Neuroscientists and researchers across the globe have established this in various clinical studies. One such study at University of British Columbia (UBC) found high levels of cortisol in the saliva samples of students of classrooms that were taught by highly stressed out teachers.

Another study at University of Calgary, conducted an experiment on mice and found that the non-stressed partners of stressed mice mirrored the brain activity of their stressed counterparts.

So who’s to blame?

Our Mirror Neurons i.e. a collection of cells that mimic the emotions of people that surround us.
Here are three ways how you can safeguard yourself from catching Stress:

1. Pitch a Positive Image

Mirror a positive image if you are dwelling in a stressed out setting. Give a genuine compliment to your colleague to reduce his stress and give yourself a happy image too.

2. Talk to a Cheerful Friend

If stress is contagious, so is happiness. Maintain a group of loving, fun and positive friends and family. Talk to them often, especially when you’ve just encountered someone stressful.

3. Distance

Lastly, neuroscientists seriously suggest to not stay in stressful environments for long. Get fresh air outside or create a cheerful environment around your cubicle by planting little indoor plants, placing emoticons or photographs of your loved ones (smiling pics please) and so on to stay away from negative contagion.

Lastly, listen to good music, think about positive things in your life, pen down what you are grateful for and steer clear of those negative emotions from catching you.
First Published: April 30, 2018, 1:10 PM IST
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