Protect Yourself From Second Hand Stress:

by Carole Bourne

Stress is contagious and secondhand stress is everywhere. You’ll find it on the TV, in the media, at work, driving in your car, on the other end of the phone, with friends or even at home.

Being in close vicinity, or even on the receiving end of friends, family, work colleagues or others, that are constantly stressed out, will eventually, (if you are not careful) trigger stress in you. Often it can happen in a split second, particularly if you are tired or run down.


Photo by BrittneBush:

Whilst you can’t avoid secondhand stress altogether, you can certainly protect yourself by remembering a few simple tricks to keep the shock waves of stress at a very healthy distance.

Protect yourself from second hand stress:

1: Breathe change into any situation:

Number one rule, stop holding your breath when confronted with stress. Remember to breathe.

A great tip I learnt many years ago was to spend longer on my exhales when in a stressful situation. A longer exhale (particularly from your belly) sedates your nervous system, relaxes your stomach and calms your thinking.  I know when my stomach is tight, my body is anxious. Keeping my stomach soft helps greatly at keeping second stress from agitating me.

If confronted face to face with stress, picture in your minds eye the other persons stress flowing away from you, with each one of your exhales.   You can still listen compassionately (if you choose) but energetically you are exhaling the second hand stress away.

* How to breathe better:

2: Ground and centre yourself:

Breathing into your feet for a few minutes, can help ground you, when exposed to second hand stress.  When grounded you are less likely to be thrown off balance (with someone else’s stress), as you feel calmer and more centred on the inside.

Think of your feet more often, walk barefoot or massage your toes and feet, all help ground your energies.  Remembering to eat and drink water often also greatly helps ground your energies.  Fruit is very cleansing but not very grounding so eat something a little more solid.

3: Practice a daily restful habit:

The more grounded and centred you are the less likely external situations will influence you.  Ridding your body regularly of stress and tension through either meditation, yoga nidra or being in nature helps strengthen your inner core.

* eliminate stress with legs up the wall:

* rest is not a weakness its essential:

* a written guide to yoga nidra

My personal favourite form of deep, deep rest at the moment is yoga nidra (conscious sleeping). Yoga nidra is a very healing state for the body to rest in.   It allows you to unburden totally and is considered deeper than sleep. It soothes your nervous system and balances your endrocrine system.   The calmer and stronger your inner core the more resistance you’ll have to second hand stress.

4: Trust your instincts:

Trust your first “gut instincts” when confronted with second hand stress. If you are getting the urge to walk away, then trust that urge and walk away gracefully.  If your instincts tell you, this person needs your support then be there for them whilst being mindful of breathing at the same time.

Don’t let other people’s voices, opinions and stresses drown out your own gut instincts.

5: Remove the second hand stress:

If you are open, then please try some vibrational medicines. Bach’s Rescue Remedy and  Australian Bush Flower Essences have an Emergency Essence, both are great at clearing the stress.   Passionflower (herbal medicine) my favourite herbal sedative is great for calming your nervous system.

A space clearing mist is fabulous for cleansing any stress or tension from the atmosphere of a room, office or car.

Three potent herbal sedatives:


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

BIO June 9, 2009 at 1:02 am

Dealing with secondhand stress is tricky in that it is, indeed, everywhere where other stressed out people are or where a major collective circumstance is brewing. The advice to react with physical methods of proper breathing and walking away (trusting one’s instincts) are very helpful. It is also helpful to be in a mental state of awareness of one’s worth and value in the environment the person is. Reacting is the last thing a grounded person can do and most people are not that grounded that’s why the tips are useful, but when one realizes that life is worth living, any form of secondhand stress is a chance to be mature instead of something to be, well, stressed about.


Carole Fogarty July 5, 2009 at 10:44 am

@Bio thank you so much for your very thoughtful comments. I would have to agree that the majority of people of not grounded. In fact I believe it takes daily commitment to staying connected to the earth and not live our lives totally from out heads.

Peace, love and chocolate



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