Professor Sarah Townsend's Tips on Manging Stress
Being Stressed Out Together Lowers Stress
There is a hormone known as cortisol that rises when you're stressed. We measured the cortisol levels. If you're with someone who is also stressed, we found that this helped to level out your cortisol levels and so, being with someone who was stressed in the same way as you are is beneficial because it actually brings down your cortisol levels.
Stress Increases Cortisol Levels
One of the reasons we think emotional similarity helps lower stress is that it validates how you are feeling as an OK response to be having. In supportive, long-term relationships it may be possible to sometimes feel validated without emotional similarity. So instead of your husband feeling nervous with you, he can say "Yes, this is stressful, I'm sorry you're feeling that way."
We looked at people who were about to give a speech in front of people and this was very stressful to them. And what we found is that people prefer to interact with others who are experiencing similar emotions. Let's take the case of skydiving. If you're a first time skydiver and you're with someone who tells you it's all going to be fine, they've done it a thousand times, nothing to worry about, it won't be helpful. But skydiving with someone who is also nervous will help you to feel less stressed because it validates you. And down goes your cortisol level. How To Get On The Same "Stress Page"
Like everything else in a relationship, this is really a two-way street. It is fair for you to want and expect him to match your emotions, but you have to be willing to meet him halfway. So when you get home, before you start into your day and how frustrating it may have been, take a second to key into how he is feeling and try to bring your emotions a little more in line with his.
Key Into The Other Person To Align Your Emotions With Theirs
We all do this . . . we want to feel like our emotions are the right ones to be having. Interacting with someone who feels the same way you do lowers your stress levels and may help you to feel that you are having the "right" reaction.
Validating Others' Emotions Builds Empathy
What Professor Townsend's research suggests is that 2 people that are anxious or nervous will be less stressed than if only one is anxious and the other is calm. So, yes, if you're the happy go lucky one, that could be annoying.
Mirroring Your Child's Emotions Helps To De-Stress A Situation
It's best to try to mirror your child's emotions and then after validating them, go in with the parental guidance, etc. It's not the best idea to talk them out of their stressful emotions because it's invalidating.