Is stress contagious? The most effective ways to deal with passive stress


Let’s imagine the following scenarios together: you are trying to help a friend cope with an unpleasant situation, and you walk away feeling uneasy, as if you had experienced this experience … Or maybe you just saw that your face fell off one day when your partner was in gloomy mood… Later that day, you break the heart of a loved one for no apparent reason.

These are scenarios that are familiar to all of us. What they all have in common is that although you haven’t experienced stress before, you feel the same way after spending time with these people. The question naturally arises: is stress contagious? What do you know about stress, which spreads faster than the common cold?

Is stress contagious?

Tara Swart, neuroscientist and author of The Fountainhead, explains everything we need to know about this topic in the clearest possible way.

According to Swart, the answer is simple: Stress is absolutely contagious! “Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, actually seeps out of our skin through sweat, and cortisol particles hang in the atmosphere around us.” So it’s actually a similar process for other hormones like estrogen and progesterone. In fact, you must have heard it before; For this reason, many people believe that the menstrual cycles of women who spend time together can be synchronized. dark, “Our hormones can influence each other in such important ways” he adds.

On top of all this, we know that everyone has different levels of cortisol, regardless of gender.“If a person is under stress, especially if they suppress stress in a way that raises their cortisol levels and cannot express it through speech or exercise, they literally go into the atmosphere, pass through the skin and blood, and artificially increase cortisol levels. your cortisol levels.

In other words, there is such a thing as second-hand stress! As irritating as this truth is, we can remember that knowledge is power and learn to deal with stress second-hand.

What can we do about passive stress?

First of all, accept your own stress! As Swart notes, if you try to suppress discomfort, more cortisol can seep through the skin. That’s why we recommend talking to a professional, friend, or loved one about your stress levels, if possible. After all, suppressing your emotions can take a toll on your physical health. Many scientific studies show that self-silencing or suppression of emotions may be associated with adverse health outcomes and mortality rates.


You can also encourage the people you spend time with to de-stress if they feel comfortable. In this way, you will prevent cortisol from seeping through their skin into yours, and more importantly, you will establish the necessary connection with your loved one.

You can also try to find ways to relieve stress that work best for you, such as journaling, exercising, trying breathing exercises, or taking various supplements. Certain practices can certainly help bring cortisol back to baseline and relieve stress before it becomes a problem.

Foods That Reduce Cortisol Against Stress

As you might have guessed, there is unfortunately no magic food that instantly lowers cortisol and stress levels. But some ingredients can reduce inflammation in the body and help regulate the release of cortisol. According to experts, this is because there is a link between high cortisol levels and intestinal permeability. “We all have some degree of intestinal permeability. Because the gastrointestinal tract is semi-permeable, something is always going in and out. But when cortisol is high, this degree of permeability increases. When this happens, bacterial decay products enter the bloodstream, causing inflammation, insulin resistance, and stimulating the release of more cortisol.”

– William Davis, cardiologist and author of Super Gut.

So what foods can help slow this process down? Here are some of the foods that can help fight stress if you add them to your diet.

1. Green tea

“The catechins in green tea bind the protein mucin in the intestinal mucus. “It turns intestinal mucus from semi-liquid to semi-gel, making it harder for it to enter the gastrointestinal tract,” he says. In addition, a study published in PLoS One shows that the polyphenolic compounds in green tea can lower cortisol levels.

2. Paprika, kiwi, citrus and strawberries

All of these foods are rich in vitamin C, which plays a big role in balancing cortisol levels. Research shows that the adrenal glands have high concentrations of vitamin C3, and eating these foods can nourish the adrenal glands, thereby keeping cortisol levels in balance.

3. Bananas, oranges, melons, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes and prunes.

Excess cortisol can cause potassium to be excreted by the kidneys, so these potassium-rich foods can regulate this level; This may reduce the side effects associated with stress and high cortisol levels.

4. Sauerkraut and Kimchi Lactobacillus reuteri is a probiotic microbe that occurs naturally in people’s gastrointestinal tract, but Davis says many people lose it over time after taking anti-inflammatory drugs or exposure to certain environmental factors.

“One of the effects of Lactobacillus reuteri is that it stimulates the brain to release oxytocin. This, in turn, helps reduce perceived stress and reduces cortisol levels.”

Other Ways to Reduce Stress

As experts often point out, your diet plays an important role in managing stress symptoms, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. This is why the most important thing we can do to reduce stress is to work on our daily habits so that our body can change how it responds to the stressors around us.

So you can reduce your cortisol release over time anyway. Here are some techniques that can help:

1. Think, feel, act!

Instead of immediately reacting to the thoughts and feelings associated with the stressful event, take the time to explore them and activate the parasympathetic or calming response rather than the fight or flight response. So when you are faced with a stressful situation, think, feel, and then act.

2. Meditation

According to experts, any mindfulness-based practice has a direct impact on reducing physiological signs of stress, including cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate. Of course, meditation is one of them. To learn more about meditation, you can read our related article: Anyone Can Meditate: Tips to Make Meditation Easier for You.

3. Quality sleep

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, and getting around eight hours of sleep can be the key to stress reduction. Because it regulates the melatonin and cortisol cycle, which are critical to health. You can check out our related article to find out what you can do to improve your sleep quality: 20 Practical Ways to Relieve Fatigue by Improving Sleep Quality

As such, stress can often feel like a burden on your back, and it’s especially frustrating when anxious feelings pop up seemingly out of nowhere. In some cases, the cause of stress is not you, but the person or people with whom you spend time. Of course, this does not mean that you should blame others for the stress you are experiencing. Maybe you are applying stress management techniques together and trying to make them work together. When you do this, you will probably feel relaxed with everyone around you, especially with you.

You may be interested in: Stress management techniques you can apply throughout the day.

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