Few years ago we did not consider the possibility that “stress” could even exist, as it was believed then stress, was nothing but an invention by “lazy people who did not want to work”. Nowadays scientists and researches are talking about how stress is 100% real and can be easily transferred through people. But, how does it happen?
Evolution has a role in stress
As highly empathetic beings, we, humans, are biologically designed to learn, understand, empathize, and “connect” with the world around us. Of course the connection is made in a deeper level with other humans. We can easily understand others’ feelings and emotions; in addition, in daily life interactions we copy other people’s behavior in order to communicate with them more effectively.
We are not only highly empathetic, but social animals, who evolved to relate to others; this concept, together with the “biological movements”, have helped us survive per hundreds of years, as a result: we physically reflect back other people’s facial expressions and actions.
The “blessing/ nightmare” of stress
Our empathy can be both a blessing and a nightmare, since only by witnessing stressful situations (even on the TV); our own bodies release the stress hormone cortisol. Just like all other negative emotions and feelings, scientists now know that: stress has a highly contagious effect. It is believed that it is “spreading as a virus”, sucking us into other people’s “bad” moments.
And if you still don’t believe it, just look around you, and you’ll see this effect between:
- Coworkers pursuing common deadlines,
- Friends talking about each other’s problems,
- Families dealing with personal crisis,
- And so on.
Why is stress such a problem?
Any negative emotions we perceive trigger a stress response in us. Empathetic stress creates elevated cortisol levels in us, our body becomes “toxic” and we may suffer from:
- Psychological Problems (burnout syndrome, depression, anxiety),
- Lower level of good cholesterol & a risen of the bad one,
- Suppression of the immune system (our defense mechanism),
- No cognitive resources to think about others or perform properly at work,
- Slowing of the decision making process, as our body is under “alarm”,
- Increased chances of suffering from insomnia, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, etc.
What can we do to stop the cycle?
We need to start thinking before we react and see the real story!
- Do not accept the fear, because it’s all in your head, remember nothing is gonna happen to you, you are not about to die, as your ancient brain thinks.
- Allow yourself to respond your emails when you get the time.
- Take 5 minutes to “simply breathe” in the middle of your daily tasks.
- Refuse the agitation of someone else, it’s not an emergency, it’s not your stress, nor your crisis.
- Use relaxation, meditation or yoga.
- Take 30 minutes a day just for you.
Remember that to maintain a clear mind and an open heart is very important, but, by reducing stressful interactions you’ll stop seeing the world with these toxic eyes, then, you’ll see how the cycle has “magically” stopped.
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