Monday, January 13, 2014

Second Hand Stress?

Really? I didn't know it had a name. But, according to an article at Huffington Post , it is.

According to Jordan Friedman:
"'Secondhand stress' is a stress response that is triggered by someone else's behavior." Wow. I have that! I have known for YEARS that my stress is, about 95%, triggered by the behavior of another person. And I'm here to tell y'all, it sucks. 

In my situation, it's not that knowing someone else is stressed causes me, out of empathy, to be stressed as well. It's more the dread of having to hear the moaning and sighing and slamming and cursing and negative comments. The noise of this person's stress is stressful to me. 

Heidi Hanna, Ph.D., a fellow with the American Institute of Stress states that stress leads to:
  • forgetfulness
  • family members internalizing their feelings (particularly kids)
  • communication shut down
  • fatigue (as the day wears on we become exhausted from trying to protect ourselves from stressful situations which also leads to irritability, distracted thinking, and a negative impact on relationships)
Friedman explain s that second hand stress is not limited to the home situation. According to Friedman, second hand stress also affects us in other ways:
  •  on the road via road rage (a dirty look or honk of a horn in our direction can cause us to feel stressed physically and/or emotionally and makes it difficult to focus while driving)
  • at work via an anxious co-worker (which leads to a problem with teamwork, productivity, etc)
So, how do we deal with this second hand stress? Friedman suggests:
  • Avoid situations where the second hand stress is created
  • protect your energy (take a five minute break every hour; stretch and walk around; meditate; laugh)
  • develop a breathing technique or something that you can think about 
  • Try not to let the little things get to you
  • Focus on the positive
  • Don't spread second hand stress yourself
Speaking from experience, I can say that this is true. There is such a thing as second hand stress. I've been getting daily doses of it for years. And years. About 15 years ago, I started getting myself under control because I realized that, if I didn't, I was going to have a heart attack or some other sort of terrible thing that would just kill me. So I started with deep breathing to calm myself. As the years progressed, I began shutting out the negative people and, the one I can't shut out, I learned to tune out. Honestly, I just ignore and don't pay attention. It's not worth the toll it takes on your spiritual, physical and emotional well being. I learned to do things with friends or by myself and I started making decisions by myself. 

Right now, I'm working on living in the now and focusing on the positive. For example, this morning, because I focused on the positive, I was able to hear fog horns (one of my favorite sounds in the world) and observe the sunrise. Had I stayed inside and not walked Tucker I wouldn't have heard those fog horns. Had I not left for work early, I would have missed the sunrise. I got two big time positives and avoided the negative altogether! It was such a blessing. I"m also working on strengthening my spiritual well-being and, as most of y'all know, my physical well-being which will, I hope, help my energy problem. 

It's not all that helpful to realize that there isn't that much stress in my life that is first hand. The second hand stress is way more offensive. In my situation, it seems as though some people aren't happy unless they are taking others of us with them. This is WAY uncool. It leads to all sorts of resentment as well. It's just no good. But, taking the steps I've been taking, one at a time, I find that I am living much happier than I would be had I not taken the first step towards positivity and self-preservation. 

Most of y'all might have no idea about second hand stress and I'm so glad. It's not pleasant at all. For those who do have an idea about it, how do you handle your second hand stress? 


  1. Discovering deep breathing and how to tune out others...:)JP

  2. I didn't know it had a name but I am around people sometimes and when they are gone and I feel myself calming down, I always wonder why they cause the reaction. Now I know what it is.
    I find that really interesting because after they leave I always want a nap, Ummm, very insightful.
    Thanks. I loved that you got to hear foghorns. My favorite sound in the whole world. Hey it is Jan and the run toward wedding, how is it going? Ron remarked how nice this year is so far without wedding. :) So I wondered about you.

  3. JP- Good plan!

    Kim- I didn't know it had a name either. But it sure made me feel better. LOL The wedding plans are going well. Smoothly to be honest. My BFF is helping with all the details- she was a wedding planner back in the day and is doing it a little now. She does it for us because she loves us. And it's a good thing because i am NOT into wedding planning.

  4. My motto is usually "water off a ducks back." I try not to let other peoples stress bother me - I stop and think "will this effect me tomorrow or the next day or even next month?"

    The answer is usually no so I just let it fall off me and move on. :D

  5. I didn't know it had a name. Seems natural that family and co-workers could cause stress since we are interacting with them so often. Stress from news events from a different part of the world seems odd.

    I even get a bit of stress when comment boxes don't work right. I need to lighten up more often.

  6. biz- I can do that with a lot of people. It gets difficult when the person lives with you though.

    bill- Neither did I. Comment box malfunctions---lol


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