Friday, March 16, 2012

do you suffer from PASSIVE STRESS?

Gossip Girl

Signs You're Passive Stressing

- You find yourself mirroring someone else’s behaviour and body language.- After a night out with an anxious colleague, you come home and lie awake worrying.- You find yourself comparing your life to that of a troubled friend and looking for signs that something is wrong.- You feel a need to share your own worries with a friend to make them feel better about their situation.

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Have you ever gone to work or on a night out with your girlfriends in a fantastic mood, only to come home so miserable you’re reaching for the nearest tub of ice-cream and bottle of wine and wondering where it all went wrong? While you might have started out feeling on top of the world, the biggest buzzkill of all can be someone else’s issues. 

A problem shared is apparently no longer halved but multiplied, with experts discovering that stress is as contagious as the common cold. Calling it “passive stress” and comparing it to the way we absorb second-hand cigarette smoke, a recent study has found that when exposed to other people’s anxiety, we absorb emotional contagions, find ourselves thinking negatively and mimicking stressful body language, such as frowning and hunching.
“Stress is not caused by any one thing, but by how we look at our environment. “If we catch a friend’s chronic stress, we can easily start to see our own environment as stressful.”

Gossip Girl.

Social issues

Women suffer the most with passive stress, reveals Dr Street. “This process is particularly common in busy social situations when we want to fit in or simply show sympathy towards others in distress,” she explains. A night out can quickly turn into a group therapy session, with everyone chipping in with their own problems, which can negatively affect your mood.
“If your best friend is stressing about her relationship, you end up imagining problems with your own. If your workmate is anxious about her piles of paperwork, you could see your own work goals as overwhelming,” says Dr Street. Put simply, spending time with someone who is permanently anxious can leave you feeling frazzled, even if there’s nothing intrinsically wrong.
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Avoid second-hand anxiety
It’s not uncommon for people to subconsciously pick up and imitate others’ emotions. Just as you may recoil in sympathy when you see someone get hurt, you can also feel someone else’s anxiety. This mirroring action is often how we identify with others and show empathy – but when it comes to stress, it can be risky to your own wellbeing.
“To reduce passive stressing, you need to reduce time with the stressor,” advises psychologist Paula Robinson, co-founder of the Positive Psychology Institute.† “When you’re with them, don’t let your thoughts feed the stress. Instead, think, ‘I will remain calm, breathe deeply and work out how I am going to minimise my time with this person.’”
And try to put yourself in charge of your own emotions and reactions. For example, “If your mother is stressing about the weather for your wedding, you need to remember that you’re not in control of the rain,” says Dr Street. “You can only control your own behaviour and your attitude about the situation.”
She also suggests finding a positive where a friend can’t. “If she’s worried about her husband working late, you might start to feed off those feelings and fret about your partner’s working hours. Instead, feel good knowing that your partner has a strong work ethic and a successful career.”
Finally, immunise yourself against passive stress by listening, but not carrying. “Listen to others with a sympathetic ear, without taking their feelings onboard,” recommends Dr Street. “Better yet, spend time with people who energise you, rather than drain you.”

Marie Claire

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