Even before Covid, how would you respond when you found yourself around someone who was coughing or sneezing? Let me guess. You would instantly wash your hands and avoid any type of physical contact, right? Now, think about a time when a friend or coworker came to you and began to criticize, unload, or complain. How did you react and handle 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 situation? Did you do the same and wash your hands of their negative attitude and create some space? Well if you didn’t, you should.
The truth is, emotions, moods and specifically, stress can be just as contagious as a cold. Research shows that even seeing someone experience stress can raise your cortisol (aka, the stress hormone) levels. And, without a boundary, you might find yourself catching their stress.
This week, we encourage you to protect yourself from catching and absorbing your friends’, family members’, and even coworkers’ feelings. While we can’t promise you emotional immunity, we can offer some strategies to help you cope and stop the spread.
• Take a mental step back: Remember, you can still be a kind, attentive and respectful listener without becoming emotionally invested in a situation that is clearly out of your control.
• Check your feelings: When having a conversation with someone and you begin to feel anxious, ask yourself, “Are these feelings being caused by my stress or someone else’s?
• Empathize, don’t internalize: Give them an opportunity to share what’s stressing them out. It’s okay to validate their concerns but just don’t join in on the negativity.
• Lastly, reinforce your boundaries. Know when to walk away from an interaction that isn’t serving you.