Tuesday, 12 February 2013

This is own stress or second-hand stress?

This is own stress or second-hand stress?
While doing teaching fellowship in the University of Glasgow, invigilation of exams with other faculty members was a due part of the job. For me, it was the most tiring and difficult part of the job. I often used to think that why invigilation causes so much fatigue and stress.

Sometimes, I felt that it was due to 500 years old structure of the building (Bute Hall in University of Glasgow) where most of the exams take place. Strolling in historical buildings and newly constructed buildings causes quite different feelings. Here, in QAU, again feeling the same issue that invigilation is a tough job.

In exams, students are going through a tough mental process and they emit stressful thoughts in the environment. As thoughts are contagious, they affect the persons in close proximity. Therefore, an invigilator suffers from stress even though this is not own stress.

If someone feels stress then it is important to check whether this is own stress or second-hand stress before going for a remedy.

Recently, researchers (a study led by Professor Elaine Hatfield) in the University of Hawaii found out that second-hand stress is passed on each other in an office just like flu and cold.

This research notes that human brains perform like a sponge that absorbs emotions emitted from people around. Stress of people around acts like a depressant in the brain, that forces the brain to think about own worries.

The research also shows that females are at higher risk as they are more in tune with the feelings of others.

Sometimes people say that I am not feeling comfortable but I do not know why. Similarly sometimes some people say that something is wrong but I do not know what that is or sometimes people become stressful without any reason. To my understanding, this is due to second hand stress.

Hatfield and Rapson (1993) define emotional contagion: "The tendency to automatically mimic and synchronize expressions, vocalizations, postures, and movements with those of another person’s and, consequently, to converge emotionally.”‖  

Theoretically, emotions can be caught in several ways.
Earlier research on this topic shows that this is a conscious process through imagination, reasoning and analysis.

Recently, most neuroscientists, primatologist and psychologist argue that this is unconscious process which is my main point in the above post.

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