Mind

Is stress contagious? New study suggests so

As if we didn’t have enough worries of our own…

By Danielle Harman

Attempting to achieve work-life balance or a stress-free week in today's busy age can seem unattainable.

With rising property and living costs, addictive social media and longer working hours becoming commonplace, people are more stressed than ever.

Although stress is an inevitable part of life - we all experience some form of worry - more often than not, it's unavoidable.

And as finding time to look after our mental and physical health often isn't a priority, at some point our feelings can be overwhelming and we need to vent.

Enter: contagious stress.

A recent study conducted by University of Calgary researchers suggests that other people's anxieties and emotions can be 'contagious' and affect your brain as if they were your own - which is less than ideal!

Have you ever found yourself feeling anxious after listening to your partner discuss his monstrous workload?

How about nervous after listening to your sister talk about her big work presentation on Monday?

That's right, your loved ones are spreading their stress.

The study shows that we are readily communicating our stresses to others - sometimes without even knowing that we are doing so.

Whether we verbally communicate to others that we are stressed or if others are sensing our emotional state, we are 'passing on' our own stresses to the others around us.

Although the ability to pick up on others' emotions is a key part of creating and building social bonds, the additional stresses could potentially be detrimental to your own personal health and vice versa.

"Brain changes associated with stress underpin many mental illnesses including PTSD, anxiety disorders and depression," says Jaideep Bains, professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and member of the HBI.

To avoid any additional stress: try to steer clear of those who are radiating anxiety and manage your own stress to avoid unintentionally stressing others.

Need help reducing stress?

All of which have been proven to lower cortisol levels - also known as the 'stress hormone'.