Did You Know Stress is Contagious?

Stress is a global problem. Humans have a sophisticated ability to pick up on stress cues from others.

man stressed at work

According to the American Institute of Stress, about 33% of people report feeling extreme stress, 77% of people experience stress that affects their physical health, 73% of people have stress that impacts their mental health, and 48% of people have trouble sleeping because of stress.

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It is also your body reacting to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. However, as your stress becomes more severe, it can cause lots of chronic illnesses.

A woman stressed out while talking on the phone

Stress is a normal feeling. There are two main types of stress:

  • Acute Stress. This is a short-term stress that goes away quickly.
  • Chronic stress. This is a stress that lasts for a longer period of time.

Your body reacts to stress by releasing hormones. These hormones make your brain more alert, which causes your muscles to tense and increases your pulse.

Stress can cause many types of physical and emotional symptoms. Sometimes, you may not realize these symptoms are caused by stress. Here are a few signs:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequent aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Lack of energy or focus
  • Stiff jaw or neck
  • Tiredness

In a study called “Trier Social Stress Test” by Tony Buchanan, he tested college students to stand up in front of a group of strangers and give a public speech. As a result, the participants became flustered and forgot to use the “right” words they wanted to use. As humans, we’ve always had a vested biological interest in picking up on how others around us are feeling.

Stress is contagious, it’s like a common cold, you can “catch” it from other people.

So what are some ways to prevent stress?

  • Try relaxation activities like meditation, yoga, tachi, breathing exercise, and muscle relaxation.
  • Take good care of your body each day
  • Stay positive and practice gratitude
  • Accept that you can’t control everything
  • Learn to say “no”
  • Stay connected with people who keep you calm, happy, and provide emotional support.

Stress can be a short-term or a long-term problem. It depends on what changes in your life. Long-term stress can cause physical symptoms, emotional symptoms, and unhealthy behaviors. Try relieving and managing stress using a few simple strategies.

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