Is Your Stress Contagious?

Is Your Stress Contagious?

Have you ever walked into a room and felt the tension? 

You know that thick, palatable, tension you could cut with a knife, even though no one is fighting, arguing, or saying anything at all?

Or the opposite.

Have you ever been around someone who has an infectious smile? You don’t even know what is so funny, but you can’t help laughing too?

How Does this Happen?

Whenever we think thoughts, we create neuropeptides, chemicals that are the physical product of our thoughts. These chemicals travel from cell to cell letting each one know what the brain is thinking.

Thinking really does change our own physiology, our environment, and perhaps the physiology of others too.

If you have been with us long, you know Dr. Olpin’s mantra by now, “Stress begins with our thoughts.” Now many researchers are homing in on how damaging and contagious those stress thoughts can be.


“Brain changes associated with stress underpin many mental illnesses including PTSD, anxiety disorders, and depression,” says Bains, professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology .1

Bains has also discovered that stress thoughts are not just dangerous to those that think them, but also to others around them.

In a study on mice, Bain found that when one mouse was exposed to mild stress and then returned to its partner, both the stressed mouse and the naïve partner’s brains were altered the same way.

In other words, the unstressed mouse’s brain changed as if it had been stressed too.

Does this happen in humans too?

Bain commented, “We readily communicate our stress to others, sometimes without even knowing it.”

Yes, even without meaning to, our stress is probably being passed on to those around us, family members, co-workers, the clerk at the grocery store.

But don’t feel guilty just yet.

Instead, let’s be grateful to now understand how contagious stress can be, and use this as motivation to get own stress under control, to make us feel good, and make the world a better place as well!

Let’s make getting rid of stress as easy as possible.

Others have done it – you can too!

Together, we can do this!


Back to School Stress? Here’s a free gift for your kids

Back to School Stress? Here’s a free gift for your kids

Back to school stress?

Back to school brings with it excitement, new opportunities, challenges, and  . . . . stress.

Here are some ideas on how to minimize the anxiety that naturally comes with the beginning of a new school year.


  1. Understand that most stress and anxiety occur when there is “fear of the unknown”

Many times, when people don’t know what to expect, they tend to fear what is coming. That turns on stress. This is especially significant in kids, who don’t have a lot of life experience to pull from to boost their confidence in new situations.

  2. Let your kids express their feelings

You don’t necessarily need to agree with what they are feeling. You may even think they are being a bit dramatic, but they don’t need to know that.

What they need to know is that you have their back. So just listen. If they feel understood, they will feel better.

  3. Give them some downtime

Families today tend to be over-scheduled and that can create over-stimulated, tired, stressed-out kids. Give your kids constructive tools to reduce their stress.

Tools for Success

Our 11-year-old son loves the Power Nap. Even though he doesn’t understand the physiology of anxiety, he knows when he is stressed and afraid. The Power Nap interrupts that physiology, relaxes him, and helps him feel back in balance where he is better able to handle what’s going on in his life.

He just feels better.

We want your kids to feel better and have a great start to the school year, so here is a gift for you — a free Power Nap guided relaxation audio download.

Try it with your kids, and you will feel better too!

Best Wishes!

Dr. Olpin in the Media

Learn more about coping with back to school stress by watching Dr. Olpin’s interview on Good Things Utah,

Click on the picture for the link. 

Breathing Techniques Reduce Test Anxiety and Increase Performance

Breathing Techniques Reduce Test Anxiety and Increase Performance

Article Highlights

  • Relaxing breathing lowers anxiety, relieves tension and reduces pain
  • Slow, relaxed breathing reverses the stress response and may help you relax before a big test, talk or meeting
  • Focused breathing keeps your mind in the present, rather than worrying about the future

Have you ever been disappointed with a test score because you knew you could have done better but were just so nervous you didn’t do your best?

How about on a job interview, or when giving an important presentation?


When we are anxious or nervous our breathing changes from deep diaphragmatic breaths to shallow chest breathing.  This kind of breathing restricts oxygen flow to the cells of the body and may cause drowsiness, irritability and even headaches.