I’ve been reading a great article this week all about anxiety and stress. They’re some of the leading causes of death and disease in the world. Stress causes heart attacks, raises blood pressure, shortens breathing, and that’s just the start of it! It’s one of the biggest worries in the health and wellness community, because surveys show that at least here in America, more and more of us are getting to more and more levels of stress every year.
Mind you, I’m only taking about your own stress and anxiety so far. This is what you take home from work, which keeps you up at night, and the anxiety while you’re sitting at your desk trying to meet a tight deadline. It’s not even beginning to touch other people’s anxiety.
Well, an article in the Guardian talks about how anxiety is actually contagious, so much so that we can all have a big impact on the health of the people around us in our lives!
I’ve always believed in the power of positive thinking, because that’s proven to catch on in a room or in a situation. Studies show that you’re 25% more likely to be happy if people around you are in good spirits, according to the article. The same is true of very sad emotions. Depressed roommates affect each other negatively.
That’s all emotional content, and it’s stuff I’ve known about for a while. Where this article gets interesting is when it talks about mental attitudes like calmness and anxiety, which are directly tied to physical health–heart rates and all that jazz. The author talks about one design professional who urges his workers to stop taking on other people’s anxiety, because he thinks that by trying to spread their anxiety, people are trying to justify that in themselves, even when it’s not productive behavior.
This author is making the case that calmness is also contagious, and it can have serious consequences. For instance, he talks about the case of a doctor. If you were freaking out about something and went to see a doctor, you’d want them to be calm, even if the situation was really bad, right? Because if you both become anxious or stressed, it bounces off each other.
So, just like we need to try to lighten people’s mood, we should be trying to actively calm them down. It’s tricky, though, because as the article says, a lot of us think that worrying and panicking can be productive. It usually isn’t.
The key is to defuse stressful and anxiety-inducing situations with cool, level-headed thinking and emotional clarity. Basically, the scientific explanation of zen.
It’s definitely an interesting read, so I recommend that you check it out!