Sharing your stress can help you cope: study
New research shows that sharing your anxieties with people who may feel the same way can help reduce stress, particularly in the workplace. (Halfpoint/Shutterstock.com)
Published Saturday, February 1, 2014 10:11AM EST
Nervous about an upcoming presentation or a major work project? New research shows that sharing your anxieties with people who may be feeling the same way can be an effective coping mechanism for dealing with the stress.
In a study published jointly out of the University of California Santa Barbara and the University of Leuven, Belgium, a group of 52 female students were paired up and asked to give a speech, which was being video-recorded.
But before delivering their speech, students were encouraged to discuss how they felt about the task. Researchers then measured levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol before, during and after the speeches.
The researchers then created an index of each pair's emotional similarity, as well as how threatening participants perceived the speech task to be. They found that: “...sharing a threatening situation with a person who is in a similar emotional state, in terms of her overall emotional profile, buffers individuals from experiencing the heightened levels of stress that typically accompany threat.”
The findings were published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
But performance-related stage fright or stress isn’t always bad.
Another study published last spring found that shaky hands, a pounding heart, and sweaty palms can actually help improve both physical and mental performance. It’s just a matter of reinterpreting these responses as natural and helpful reactions.
"The body is marshalling resources, pumping more blood to our major muscle groups and delivering more oxygen to our brains,” said Jeremy Jamieson, of the University of Rochester.