Isaiah 63:9 - In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
Stress is an everyday occurrence in our lives. It can be a “good” kind of stress like getting a new job or having company over for dinner. However, it can also be a “bad” kind of stress like losing a job, not being able to pay your bills, or having a flare-up of chronic pain.
But there is also a third kind of stress, and it’s called “secondhand stress”.
Have you ever been at the airport waiting for your flight and a guy at the end of your row of seats is on his phone and obviously stressed out? You can tell by his voice and body language.
So, can you catch another person’s stress like you can catch the flu?
The answer is yes. Stress can be passed on through things like facial expressions, the sound of their voice, odor and touch.
It’s hard enough to avoid getting stressed when you’re in difficult circumstances, but you can also get stressed just by being around someone who is stressed or by watching something stressful on TV. What’s on TV then can become another example of secondhand stress.
Distress is another concern. This is when you’ve experienced stress on a daily, lengthy time period. This kind of stress has negative effects on the body. Examples are: stomach aches, muscle tension, headaches, raised blood pressure and mental effects such as anxiety and depression.
Hbr.org in their article, “Make Yourself Immune to Secondhand Stress,” tells us what Secondhand Stress is and how to keep yourself from being caught in it. Some of their suggestions include change your response by having a positive mindset about stress. Another idea is to inoculate yourself against stress by thinking of three things you can be thankful for in your day.
In the Bible verse above we see that even God was distressed as the Israelites were distressed. He feels what we feel. You’re not alone in your distress. God’s love and mercy can lift us up away from anyone’s secondhand stress and place us back onto green pastures of the heart and mind.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.