Second-Hand Stress: How To Cope With Others’ Stress

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Stress can be contagious. When we’re around other people struggling to deal with immense pressures, we may start to become stressed ourselves. This can be particularly the case when it comes to family members, close friends or colleagues. Below are just some of the ways to deal with second hand stress.

Make time to be available

Avoiding second-hand stress by completely avoiding other people’s problems is not the way to go. If someone is going through a hard time, being there for them is important. Sometimes just being available can be enough to relieve other people’s stress – a friend dealing with stress at home or at work may just want to spend time with you to distract themselves. Of course, there are other people that may want to constantly involve you in their problems and these types of people need to be handled differently. 

Make time to detach yourself

While you should try to be available for those in need, you can’t constantly be there for them. If a friend or colleague is constantly coming to you for advice or venting at you, and it’s starting to make you seriously stressed, you need to get them to back off a little. Consider scheduling time to see them instead of allowing them to contact you at all hours. Distancing yourself from the situation is important for your health. 

Don’t fight their battles 

Unless a person is physically unable to care for themselves, you should not fight their battles for them. If you do this, you will be taking on the responsibility of their problem and therefore putting the bulk of the stress on your shoulders. Instead, try to give people the consolation and support that they need to battle their problems themselves without trying to fix the problem for them. Sometimes it can be difficult to know when to step back – especially if it’s an older child or a person in your care. Try to put yourself in their shoes and consider what type of support you would expect in their position. 

Get professional advice

It can sometimes be valuable to seek out professional advice on how to help others cope with stress – especially if people are dealing with depression, anxiety or addiction. A mental health first aid course could be useful for helping employees in your workplace deal with stress, as well as dealing with your own. There are also counselling services that can help you to speak to kids or a partner who may be going through a hard time. 

Look after yourself

Practicing some self-love is always important when going through periods of chronic stress – including second-hand stress. Consider all the ways in which you can relieve your own stress such as exercising, listening to music and getting enough sleep. You may even decide that you need to talk to someone else about the problem. Too often, those that constantly support others never seek support themselves. 

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