You leave your house in a good mood. On your way to work you encounter a rude person in traffic, once you get to the office your co-worker grumbles at you about deadlines, and then you receive an unhappy email from a customer. Before you know it, you’re feeling stressed out!
In a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, teachers with high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in their blood stream also had students with high cortisol levels. Although it is unknown whether the teacher’s mood affected the students or vice-versa, it certainly illustrates that stress is contagious.
The fact is, your body picks up on the moods and behaviors of others. This ability to pick up on others’ emotional states is relayed to your fight, flight, freeze brain, and it starts reacting to the tension it is perceiving. This is all done subconsciously by the body in an effort to keep you safe, but unfortunately, it’s not working for us these days.
So, what can you do to avoid catching the stress bug?
1. Create More Self Awareness
As mentioned above, the body subconsciously picks up on the emotional cues of others in your environment. Start to pay attention to when your body feels anxious or tense. Immediately, begin taking deep breathes as you consciously identify the source of the stress. I like to say when you name it, you tame it!
Inhaling turns on your sympathetic nervous system…the one that ramps everything up and gets the cortisol flowing. Exhaling turns on the parasympathetic nervous system…the system that calms everything down.
Inhaling to a count of 3 and exhaling to a slow count of 10 is one of the most effective ways to bring conscious awareness to the situation that is creating the stress. While at the same time, the breathing reassures your fight, flight, freeze system that everything is okay. You take back control of your physiology.
3. Write it Down
There are two ways to utilize this tool:
There is so much information coming at us these days, and it is hard to remember everything. Write it down so you don’t create more stress by trying to keep everything in your brain.
When you’re upset about something, getting it out on paper is a powerful way to work through it and let it go. Once you write it down and get the frustrations out, throw it away!
4. Relaxing Hobby (a.k.a. Recharge your batteries)
Enough said! You should have some form of down time that you enjoy doing! If you don’t know what that is, make this your highest priority. You cannot keep going when your system is burned out. You must identify your way to recharge!
5. Separate from the Source
Whenever possible, move away from the source of the stress or at least limit your exposure.
Have a great September and stay healthy!
Dedicated to raising your consciousness!