Second Hand Stress

How we respond to stress is the most important contributing factor to all chronic diseases. Unfortunately, many are unaware of that fact. But, did you know how your response to stress is affecting those around you? Those you come into contact with will notice you are under stress in a number of ways. Your vocal changes, your facial expressions and your body language all reflect your negative response to stress – even if you don’t think they do.

The observation of these subtle changes can create a stress response in everyone you come into contact with. Similar to the way second-hand smoke can be harmful to the lungs of individuals who are just near a smoker, so can “second-hand feelings” affect everyone you come into contact with. “Second-hand feelings” are those feelings that we activate in our minds as a response to others. These feelings can be damaging when they occur over and over again. Really, these “toxic” feelings can last longer than the smoke!

Any physical response that occurred in your past, even as a normal response to trauma, can be activated at any time. Even years later by having a similar feeling to that which you had at the time of the accident or crisis and even when what is happening now isn’t happening to you, but to someone you are talking with, the emotions are activated just the same.

Always being the sounding board for your friends’ problems can have a toxic effect on you – even if you are not directly affected by the problems. This phenomenon isn’t limited to communication from your friends. Watching stressful responses of anyone can activate the same emotional triggers – even when you watch these responses on television, in movies or on Facebook! Be aware of the potential harm caused by “second-hand feelings” – both by you to others and others to you.

Give yourself and your friends an opportunity to be guided through those feelings whether they are second hand or primary. Having someone who is detached from the feelings gives you the chance to work through them and to allow positive feelings and emotions to flow. You also have an opportunity to learn new stress release and reduction techniques.  Let’s make this world a better place by reducing and eliminating second hand stress.