Sunday, February 16, 2014

Beware of the Mood Bully

During the cold and flu season, people try to avoid getting contaminated with a virus. They will wash their hands, take supplements and avoid touching a sick person.  No one wants to get sick. 

In Ayurveda health is defined as the body being balanced and strong and the spirit feeling happy and settled.  Yet, the same vigilance we use to protect our body do we rarely use to protect our emotions. Research has shown that emotions spread irresistibly whenever people are near one another. Even completely nonverbal expressiveness can affect people. For example, when three strangers sit facing one other in silence for a minute or two, the most emotionally expressive of the three transmits his or her mood to the other two.  This is all done without a single word being spoken.  The same holds true in groups.  People in the group catch feelings from one another.  In a study across diverse work industries, it was found that workers in group meetings ended up sharing both good and bad moods within two hours.

However, we rely on connections with other people.  It can be described as an open-loop limbic system in which people come to one another's emotional rescue.  Think of a mother who soothes her crying baby as an example. A sick person in a hospital room  feels the comforting presence of another person that translates into lowering the patient’s blood pressure and slowing the secretion of fatty acids that block arteries.

So, can we protect ourselves from mood bullies, the people who infect us with their emotions? There are some people who are insistent that we feel and say the same things they do. Some people may not mean to do this but it happens anyway.

There will be some people who are not aware they are catching the mood.  Even the ones who may have the ability to be alert and diligent in monitoring their moods to be independent of others will have difficulty from time to time. Awareness of the issue is the first step. Next, one needs to take time alone to regroup.  In Ayurveda, meditation becomes a way to clear away the stresses and connect with one's self.  Even without meditation, one can take time to exercise, do a hobby or remind one's self what their goals are and what is the best way to reach them. These suggestions give a person contemplation time and a chance to reset their own mood.  Sometimes a coach can help a person create a routine to unwind.

Remember that your emotional health is just as important as your physical health.  The two affect each other and both need you to invest time into them.

Stay healthy & well,

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