Contagious stress: How to keep from taking it in and passing it on


We all find ourselves yawning, laughing, or stressed when those around us do.That’s because we are all affected by the emotions that others share with us. Those who are the most susceptible are children. And the spread doesn’t have to be through words, or even facial expression- it can be conducted through touch as well. On this Voices in the Family, we’ll talk about contagious stress: what we know about it, and what we can do to diffuse it, and how we can keep from taking it in and passing it on.

We’ll be talking to Dr. Wendy Mendes, the Sarlo/Ekman Chair in the study of human Emotion at UC San Francisco. We’ll also be talking to Dr. Sara Waters, who recently conducted the much discussed study on the physiological passage of stress from mother to infant. They are both at the Emotion, Health and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of San Francisco.
We’ll also speak with Tamar Chansky, a psychologist dedicated to helping children, even as young as three overcome anxiety. She is the author of Freeing Your Child From Anxiety.

For listeners who want to know what they can do about their stress:

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