Ditch the Negative Nancy Friend! Stress is Contagious!

We all have a Connie Complainer in our lives. You may also know her as a Debbie Downer. Either way. This is an otherwise great person who manages to find a problem in any situation. Her boss is a jerk. Her boyfriend is insensitive. Her sister is rude to her. Her apartment is too expensive. The list goes on and on. You love the girl, but after a catch-up session with her you end up feeling anxious instead of invigorated. Turns out those feelings may not be in your head. This article talks about a new study that shows that stress may be contagious, particularly among women. In fact, stress may be as contagious as a cold. 

The study says when you spend a long time listening to someone’s rants and complaints, you take on their tensed-up body language and even start to mimic their negative thoughts. You can go from being a sympathetic ear to a fellow ball of anxiety. This is especially true for women, according to the study, because women are more in tune with others’ feelings.

It’s great to be a good listener and to support a friend, co-worker, or family member who’s going through a tough time. We all need someone to offer advice and listen. But there’s a difference between offering support and being a free, on-call counselor. Especially when it impacts your own health. Offer support, love, and advice, but then step away. You need to maintain your inner peace and calm. If it’s clear that the friend is still upset after your talk, be honest with her. Tell her you want to help but don’t know what else to say and are feeling overwhelmed. Let her know that you love and support her, but suggest other resources to her. Perhaps a professionally-trained counselor would help. Exercise, and writing in a journal are also good stress relievers. Do her and your sanity a favor.

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