Deal With Stress

Emotional Contagion: 4 Ways to Limit The Spread

Take steps to kick out the grouch in your lifeBad moods infectious?

Negativity spreads faster than the flu?

Once we stop to think about them, we know how true these statements are, but all too often, we find ourselves trapped in the disappointments of the day, the week or the month…and we breathe out the contagion of anger, frustration, and sheer negativity on whomever comes close enough to breathe in our real or our virtual air.

The self- help literature has been packed full of the devastating effects of negative self-talk…that little voice inside that insists we are worthless or doomed to fail, for decades. But how many times do we consider the powerful effects of our words, our expressions, our energy on others?

That old axiom, ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ has some truth but only a partial one. Often our expressions and our body languages are far more powerful conveyances of how we feel than are our words. Unless one is expert at suppressing the ‘tell’ of a negative reaction, others can sense it-immediately; few of us are practiced in suppressing powerful emotions and opinions.

There are some people who are either blessed or burdened with “niceness.” You have met them I know, because I sure have. Eventually though, we figure out the superficiality of their constant stream of platitudes and learn to ignore them.

Everyone else does too.

So what do we do when we are feeling down? I write these from the conviction that we should not pretend away anger, frustration, sadness or any of the emotions that result in a ‘bad mood.’ Rather, we need to accept their presence and temporary power over us in order to move through them and get on with the day-or the week…our life.

Here are 4 ways that I use to deal with those times when I am not feeling on top of the world beginning with the very worst of my bad moods and moving up.

1. If my tank is completely empty, I withdraw. I mean that if everything feels really awful and that I can see no options for me, I withdraw…completely. I lie to those closest to me and tell them I am not eating because I am sick-normally this is the truth because when I feel this badly, I cannot eat.

Thankfully, these periods occur rarely and I hope the same for you. I have learned however, the folly of attempting to explain feelings-emotions- that are so dark they are opaque even to me. It is best to understand-to trust- they will pass because they will. Attempting to explain what we ourselves don’t understand is always dangerous.

2. If I am simply angry-at me- at my husband, the world, I rant-loudly and very briefly….only if I am alone, of course. I have found this essential when I am just so angry I cannot see straight–the action of yelling or throwing something dissipates that emotion so that I can get out from under it.

3. If I am overwhelmed, I walk away. Unfortunately, I often forget to do this one and end up wasting precious time while vainly struggling to get my act together.

4. The times when I simply do not have the energy to write, I don’t. Or to speak to a customer, or know that if I do try anyway, I put off the phone call or do not answer the phone when it rings in case the caller is a customer calling with an issue I cannot handle responsibly.

Author Bio: Lin Wilder, DrPH is a former Hospital Director now full time writer, If you liked this article, Lin suggests her new novel, A Fragrance Shed By A Violet now available at Tate Publishing.

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