secondhand stress

March 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

I was listening to The Psychology Podcast interview with Tom Rath on positive psychology. He was talking about what we have learned about happiness and developing a sense of meaning. Near the end of the podcast he discussed factors that contribute to improving day to day encounters for a better experience of life. One of the things he mentioned offhand really stuck with me. He mentioned secondhand stress as a factor that can have a negative effect on one’s efforts to implement practices to develop a positive psychology.

This factor really struck home for me because I live with a husband who suffers from daily bouts of depression and anxiety. I have struggled to find my own equilibrium when facing my husband’s chronic negative emotional and mental condition. I know my husband is working hard to live a good life, but I had seriously underestimated the toll his mental health was taking on my own.

I have started implementing my own preventative program to ease my exposure to my husband’s stress and it is helping reduce my ambient (resting) stress level. Just this morning I found this article in the Harvard Business Review, “Make Yourself Immune to Secondhand Stress” by Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan. I am already starting to feel a little better, realizing that I am not crazy, and that I have been affected by loved ones’ secondhand stress all my life.



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