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Make light work of stress

Negativity and professional pressure are contagious – but it is possible to find calm in the eye of the storm, and even spread happy vibes, reveals Suzy Bashford


There’s an office where I work where the stress is palpable. I feel it as I walk through the door. My movements immediately become tentative and my chest tightens – it’s as though I’m in a zombie movie, desperately trying not to breathe in the contagion and be transformed myself. But, inevitably, the atmosphere seeps into me, often ruining my day.

Stress is contagious; this has been proven. We ‘catch’ other people’s tension through our instinctive human ability to ‘mirror’ emotions (see ‘Why is stress so infectious?’, overleaf). This instinct, coupled with our primitive desire to be part of the tribe, sets off a raft of physiological reactions in us when we enter a stressed-out office, especially one that’s open plan. But, it is possible to become more resilient to other people’s pressure.

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The latest issue of Psychologies is now available to download. Featuring: Reinvent your life with Yoga, Grown-up gap year, Face-reading, Free online coaching plus much more