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Find out how being an agony aunt is making you sick!

Helping people in stressed situations is great! But not at the cost of your well-being.

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : September 24, 2015 12:04 PM IST

Are you the go-to person for your friends, family and peers when they need to unload negative emotions, daily stress and look for meaningful suggestions on life changing decisions? If you answered yes to the question, remember, while doing this noble deed you are also putting your health and well-being at stake. Here are seven things you should stop doing when you are stressed.

Stress, precisely second-hand stress, is contagious and spreads from one to the other like wildfire. In fact, a study [1] shows that watching people undergoing a stressful situation can make the others stressed. The effects are more pronounced if a close family member, friend or someone we are fond of is stressed. However, stress is not always bad after all.

What's the reason behind it?

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Second-hand stress, also known as empathetic stress, can affect the hypothalamus-pituitary-axis or HPA of the observer and trigger the stress system of the body. In simple words, your loved ones are capable of rubbing off their stressors on you. Know if it is stress or depression you are suffering from.

Well, getting stressed just by playing agony aunt to friends and family is just one side of the story. You can also get stressed if seeing a stranger undergo stressful situation. In fact, walking into a room where there is stress and tension brewing can make you feel anxious, frightful or even depressed. Here are eight modern day signs of depression that you should be watchful of.

Too much of stress can lead to increased levels of cortisol in the body which can again give rise to a host of other health conditions from headaches to heart diseases and other lifestyle related problems.

What you can do

Be reasonable and indifferent: If you really want to play the role of agony aunt, well then learn how to be logical and indifferent to others negative emotions. This might need little pep talks or a stroll on a quiet, calm road after listening to your dear one unload on you.

Be calm and don t try to solve other s problem on your own: If you really need to help someone, show them the right way to deal with their problems, rather than trying to solve their problems on your own. Being on the same line of stress as that of your friend can backfire.

Distance yourself from stressful situations: Sometimes, on pretext of looking for a shoulder to cry on, some people might just taunt you and make you stressed with their allegations -- using a form of emotional blackmailing this is very common with mothers, mother-in-laws and other close relatives. If you recognise the situation, leave the spot and go. You don t have to be polite if you don t wish to.

Breathe and sleep: If you know that things are stressing you out for no reason and doesn t have a direct effect on your life, breathe and catch some shut-eye. Don t lose your sleep over menial issues.

Image source: Shutterstock

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1. Engert V, Plessow F, Miller R, Kirschbaum C, Singer T. Cortisol increase in empathic stress is modulated by emotional closeness and observation modality. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014 Jul;45:192-201. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.04.005. Epub 2014 Apr 16. PubMed PMID: 24845190.

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