We all know that energy is transferable – that’s why it’s typically easy for us to tell when someone is upset or very agitated with us – their energy shifts. When we feel an energy shift, we can either ward off the energy or take it on as our own and become upset or agitated as well. The same can happen with anxiety – Dr. Jim Harter and Sangeeta Agrawal from Gallup News, a website aimed at providing businesses and organizations with analytics and advice, found distinct links between the well-being among team members and amongst their managers. In their study, they evaluated 105 teams with 1,740 people whose well-being was measured among three 6-month intervals. With this, they found that the well-being levels among team members were significantly connected to and dependent on the well-being of others on the team.
Although the study conducted was in a workplace situation, anxiety can be transferred from anyone within any context. The key is to remember not to allow yourself to take on others’ anxiety. Anxiety.org, a website that provides information on the several types of anxiety disorders, states that unlike anxiety disorders, natural responses of anxiety and stress can easily be taken on by others simply due to exposure. By remaining actively aware of the stress responses of others, we can better manage our own energy levels to ensure that we don’t adopt a response that isn’t beneficial for us.
Judith Orloff, MD and author of a book titled The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, wrote in a 2011 article for The Huffington Post provided a compelling step-by-step guide to avoid absorbing negative energy and anxiety from others:
- Ask yourself, “Is this feeling mind or someone else’s?” It could be both, but if you do not believe any reason for the sudden anxiety, you may have taken it on from someone else.
- Distance yourself from someone if you feel that you are taking on their anxiety or negative energy. By stepping away, you can ground yourself again.
- Focus on your breaths. Take deep inhales of calmness and exhale your stress. This will help you to balance yourself.
- Try to determine where in your body you feel the stress or anxiety – if it’s in your stomach, gently place your palm on your stomach and focus on sending love and positivity there.
- Visualize positivity around you, and you may even want to visualize yourself in a form of “light” or “bubble” in which you are protected from negative energy around you.
- Seek out positive people and situations. Call a friend that can help you remain positive. Listen to others who are hopeful and see good things happening.
Anxiety can be absorbed like a sponge, but with awareness, we can avoid doing this. Stay knowledgeable on how you are feeling and when you are picking up the stress and anxiety from others. This could prevent you from having a dreadful day or causing further stress at work or at home.
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