Chronic stress is related to the six leading causes of death. It’s believed that more than 75% of all trips to the emergency room or a doctor are stress-related. So the next time a friend tells you stress is killing him, you might want to take that statement seriously.
Ask anyone you know and they’ll tell you of a stressful situation they experienced recently. This is an unfortunately common occurrence. You might have too much stress in your own life.
For a number of reasons, you can benefit from stressing less and relaxing more often. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, just learn to empathize more.
How Empathy Leads to Less Stress and Depression
An empathetic person can place themselves in the emotional experience of someone else. That’s the first part of empathy. The part of the empathetic process some people forget is responding in a way that’s helpful.
You see a coworker has a huge workload. She’s stressing out and you know there’s no possible way she can hit a proposed deadline. You communicate to her that even though her productivity is excellent and she’s a great worker, you don’t know how she’s going to get everything done.
You just paid her a compliment. You saw her emotions were frazzled and she wasn’t in a good place mentally. So you said something nice about her ability on the job.
The next thing you can do after you identify with her situation is to provide assistance. Offer to help her tackle some of her responsibilities. When you do, your coworker will thank you. She’ll experience less stress, and science tells us that you’ll also have less stress, anxiety and depression.
When you learn to recognize that someone else is experiencing negative emotions, you want to help. This is the response for most people. What also happens is that you subconsciously recognize that you’re not in that situation. You can understand your coworker’s emotional stress, but you aren’t experiencing the same thing yourself.
Dr. Jamil Zaki is a psychology professor and the director of the Social Neuroscience Laboratory in Stanford. He says empathy can help you see past the many differences people have. It helps you move past prejudice or bias. These are negative emotions. They can produce a stress response in your body. Empathy doesn’t allow that to develop.
Dr. Zaki also says empathy makes people happier in their relationships and even more successful at work. Studies show us that an empathetic person learns how to process his or her own emotions properly by being able to recognize the emotions other people are going through. That means being more empathetic in your life cannot only help others, but it can also give you a wonderful boost of less stress and more peace of mind.