stress Several years ago, a study from the Max Planck Institute found that stress can be extremely contagious. Just being around someone who is depressed, very stressed or observing stressful situations can cause you to also become stressed. Surprisingly, stressful situations online and reading articles about stress, (such as this one!), also raise your stress levels.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with ways to relax and relieve our stress, news on our health and how to improve it, is it any wonder that more of us are stressed each day?

Each business owner, within their own small business, will always have a certain amount of stress and small amounts of stress are good for us, they can motivate us to get things done that we otherwise wouldn’t bother with.

But when you start to add in the other responsibilities such as family, trying to find time to spend with friends, outside interests of our own, our stress builds. Add to that the stress of others and you can become a walking time bomb for ill health. How do you juggle the things you have to do with those you like to do and at the same time avoid the added stressors that come with it.

First, take a look at the people you do spend your time with. You know which of these people get upset easily, are depressed or negative. These are the ones you need to avoid or spend less time with. Rather than agreeing with them that everything is going downhill, remember, you do have your own opinions and it’s best to stick with them. Most people empathize far too much and that empathy can actually be bad for you. Other people’s stress and bad feelings can drain you and that’s the last thing that we, as business owners, need.

For example, Susan, a small business owner, who only has weekends to spend time on herself and her interests, has a new boyfriend, we’ll call him Bill. Bill works part-time and doesn’t have any additional responsibilities. After several months of dating, he is complaining because Susan doesn’t have the time to spend with him that he wishes she could. At the same time, he has resentments toward a variety of people and things and seems to get depressed easily. Susan is starting to feel the stress of Bill’s complaints toward her and also about the many other things that bother him. She feels that he isn’t being fair but also feels guilty because she can’t spend the time with him that he’d like her to. This is a perfect setup for contagious stress, where Bill’s bad attitude and depression can transfer to Susan, until she is also feeling anxious.

Each of us has a responsibility to ourselves to ensure that our negative feelings, (and we all have them) don’t grow to the point where they wipe out any good that we do for ourselves. When you take into consideration the fact that outside stressors can also come in human form, this makes it even more important that we focus on what is most important to us. While our family and friends will always be important to us, we can’t allow their stress to become ours.

© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015

image courtesy of thaliachung