Stress Is as Contagious as a Yawn - Better Health Solutions

Stress Is as Contagious as a Yawn

Stress Is as Contagious as a Yawn

Have you ever seen someone yawn in front of you and instantly felt the need to yawn as well? You may have even yawned just reading this article because it mentioned the word.

Stress is something we can’t see or hear (like we can a yawn), but it’s something that’s every bit as contagious, so you have to be on alert as if it’s a viral elements that you want to avoid.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Technische Universitat Dresden discovered that not only can someone else’s stress seep into your world if you’re in close contact with them, but even watching stress unfold on TV can wreak havoc in your world.

It’s called empathetic stress, and even though you might not know or care about the people on TV, your mind is capable of empathizing with the character – otherwise, the show wouldn’t be anything you’re drawn to.

Scientists were able to measure the stress hormone cortisol that freely flooded the bodies of those who were around someone else’s stress – even though they, themselves weren’t put into a stressful situation.

It’s not as prevalent as those who are in the direct line of fire. During the study, 95% of those confronted with stress experienced higher cortisol levels. But almost 30% of bystanders who were strangers did, too!

The number jumps when it’s someone you love. If someone close to you is under stress, then you’re 40% more likely to stress out yourself. So what can you do is you’re affected by contagious stress?

Don’t make matters worse by trying to become the “fixer” of everyone else’s world. It’s okay to offer advice when requested, but it’s best to learn how to create an invisible barrier around yourself so that you are buffered from other peoples’ stress.

It doesn’t mean you can’t have empathy – but practice understanding the situation logically. Don’t let yourself get mired in trying to make it all better for them, but if you want to, make it known that you’re there to lend an ear or a shoulder if needed.

As for strangers – if you’re noticing that your stress levels are too high, then it’s time to decrease your exposure to outside influences. That might include not watching the 24/7 cable TV news, not listening to talk radio on your commute, hiding or unfriending negative acquaintances on Facebook, and more.

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