What To Do If People Stress You Out | SocialSelf (2023)

If you feel like most of your stress is caused by others, interacting with people can feel frustrating, exhausting, and difficult. After several negative interactions, you might dread interactions or even start to hate being around people.

It isn’t possible to completely get rid of stress, especially if the source is someone you work with, live with, or have to interact with on a regular basis. However, there are ways you can reduce stress, cope with it better, and protect yourself from lowering your quality of life.

In this article, you will learn healthy ways to deal with difficult people, reduce stress, and improve your ability to cope with people who stress you out.

1. Identify sources of stress

There may be certain people, personalities, and social interactions that cause more stress than others. Finding out who is causing you the most stress can help you limit your interactions and set boundaries that reduce their impact on you.

For example, you might notice that your stress shows up more in these situations:

  • With your boss, coworkers, or certain people at work
  • With dates and possible romantic partners
  • In big groups of people or large social events
  • When you start a conversation with a stranger
  • When someone takes their stress out on you
  • During conflict or difficult conversations
  • With people who are loud or talk too much
  • With people who are very opinionated or forceful
  • With people who are negative or complain a lot
  • Around people who are very outgoing or energetic

2. Figure out if you’re an introvert

Unlike extroverted people, introverts get burned out in social interactions. If you are an introvert, making alone time a priority can reduce your overall levels of stress, making it easier to deal with the stress that comes from social interactions.

(Video) How to reduce stress with the 2:1 breathing technique

You may be an introvert if you:[1]

  • Prefer to have a small circle of close friends
  • Prefer to listen and observe rather than talk
  • Are naturally shy or reserved
  • Feel drained after social activities
  • Like to take your time when opening up to others
  • Enjoy spending time alone or doing quiet activities

3. Do a mental health self-check

According to recent research, 67% of adults reported increased stress during 2020, and rates of anxiety and depression have tripled.[2, 3] Stress and mental health issues often go hand-in-hand. If your mental health is poor, you will have a higher sensitivity to stress.

You might be struggling with one of these issues if you experience some of these common symptoms:

  • Feel sad, down, or in a bad mood most days
  • Feel worried or anxious most of the time
  • Feel more irritable or snap more easily
  • Cannot concentrate or get things done
  • Feel exhausted, drained, and tired for no reason
  • Are using more drugs and alcohol than normal

The good news is that almost all mental health conditions are treatable. Therapy, medication, or even learning new coping skills like meditation are all great ways to reduce stress and improve your overall mental health.

We recommend BetterHelp for online therapy, since they offer unlimited messaging and a weekly session, and are cheaper than going to a therapist's office.

Their plans start at $64 per week. If you use this link, you get 20% off your first month at BetterHelp + a $50 coupon valid for any SocialSelf course: Click here to learn more about BetterHelp.

(To receive your $50 SocialSelf coupon, sign up with our link. Then, email BetterHelp’s order confirmation to us to receive your personal code. You can use this code for any of our courses.)

(Video) How Job Stress Affects Your Health | WSJ

4. Improve your work/life balance

Because workplace stress is a common issue for Americans, finding a balance between work (including job, classes, and household duties) and life is essential to managing stress.

Ways to improve your work/life balance include:[4, 5]

  • Have a daily schedule and to-do list to keep you on track
  • Take breaks throughout the day to eat, rest, and relax
  • Make time for friends and fun activities each week
  • Turn off work notifications when you’re away from work
  • Start a hobby, DIY project, or something else enjoyable
  • Get support from your supervisor or coworkers

5. Set boundaries

Setting boundaries means making sure that you always keep your feelings, wants, and needs as a top priority. If you have a hard time setting boundaries, it may be one of the reasons why you feel so stressed out by certain people.[4, 5] Setting boundaries can help you avoid letting stress, anger, and resentment build in your relationships.

Some ways to set boundaries with people include:

  • Avoiding giving an automatic “yes” when someone asks for help
  • Ask to get back to them after you check your schedule and think it through
  • Consider what you have on your plate before you commit
  • Admit when you’ve taken on too much and ask for help
  • Address relationship issues early when they are still small

6. Find outlets for stress

Outlets are activities, people, and skills that help you release and let go of stress. Because it won’t be possible to completely get rid of all of your stress, it is important to have healthy outlets. Making these a regular part of your routine will help keep you balanced and avoid letting stress build up.

(Video) How stress affects your brain - Madhumita Murgia

Examples of healthy stress outlets include:[4, 5, 6]

  • Talking to a supportive family member, partner, or friend
  • Limit screen time and spend more time offline
  • Get outside and be more active
  • Try meditation or mindfulness
  • Rely on friends and family for support

7. Don’t let people rent space in your head

If you dislike someone, don’t let them rent space in your head. You let them rent space in your head whenever you think about them or replay or rehearse negative interactions with them. According to research, giving a lot of attention to these thoughts can increase stress and anxiety, making them worse.[7]

Here are some skills to interrupt negative thoughts that increase stress:

  • Imagine a pause button in your mind to stop an unwanted thought
  • Turn on music, a podcast, or a show you enjoy to switch your attention elsewhere
  • Single-task by putting your full energy and attention into a task
  • Use mindfulness to become more present by focusing on one of your 5 senses

8. Create positive vibes

Positive feelings can be contagious, so creating more positive vibes can sometimes interrupt negative patterns of interaction. If you feel locked into a negative pattern with someone, try to hit the reset button to create more positive feelings.

These simple tips can create more friendly (and less stressful) interactions with people:[8]

  • Be kind by giving them a compliment or doing them a favor
  • Smile and show interest when they are talking
  • Give them a shoutout or mention in a work or social meeting
  • Back up one of their ideas or agree with one of their opinions
  • Stop to make small talk or ask how they are doing

9. Give people another chance

If you’ve already made up your mind that you don’t like someone, it can set up every interaction with them to become a source of negative stress. Consider giving them another chance by going into each conversation with a clean slate, an open mind, and a positive attitude. This gives them a chance to interact with you in a different, more positive way.

(Video) Stress is KILLING You | This is WHY and What You Can Do | Dr. Joe Dispenza (Eye Opening Speech)

Common questions about stress caused by others

Why do interactions with people stress me out?

You might find it stressful to interact with specific people, especially if they have a different personality or style of communication than you do. If all of your interactions feel stressful, it may be because you are anxious, introverted, or have a lot of other stress in your life.

How do I stop being so sensitive?

You can work on being less sensitive by trying not to take things too personally. For example, when someone is rude or short with you, don’t assume that they don’t like you. It could be that they are just having a bad day or didn’t get enough sleep last night.

How do I not let others’ stress affect me?

When you care about someone, you are bound to be affected by their stress, but you can limit the impact by remembering to set boundaries. Only offer to help when you can, and remember to take time for breaks and self-care.

How do you deal with people who stress you out?

When possible, try to limit your interactions with people who stress you out. For example, limit interactions with a stressful coworker by exchanging texts or emails instead of talking on the phone or by having set times to meet to discuss a project.

How do I stop worrying about other people’s problems?

Worrying is just a form of rumination. You can interrupt worry by refocusing your attention, using mindfulness techniques, or by imagining a “pause” button in your mind. Focusing your attention outward to your surroundings or a task can also help.

Show references +


  1. Laney, M. O. (2002). The introvert advantage: How to thrive in an extrovert world. Workman Publishing.
  2. American Psychological Association (2020). Stress in America™ 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis. Apa.org.
  3. Czeisler, M. É., Lane, R. I., Wiley, J. F., Czeisler, C. A., Howard, M. E., & Rajaratnam, S. M. (2021). Follow-up survey of US adult reports of mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic, September 2020. JAMA network open, 4(2), e2037665-e2037665.
  4. American Psychological Association. (2018). Coping with stress at work. Apa.org.
  5. American Psychological Association. (2019). Healthy ways to handle life’s stressors. Apa.org.
  6. Robinson M, Alloy L. (2003). Negative cognitive styles and stress-reactive rumination interact to predict depression: A prospective study. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 27, (3), 275–292.
  7. Watkins, E. R., & Roberts, H. (2020). Reflecting on rumination: Consequences, causes, mechanisms and treatment of rumination. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 127, 103573.
  8. Carnegie, D. (1913). How to win friends [and] influence people. The World’s Work.
(Video) Stressed out? 4 Strange Things Stress Can Do to Your Body


What does it mean when someone is stressing you out? ›

to make someone feel very nervous and worried: Interviews always stress me out.

How do you deal with family members who stress you out? ›

Strategies to cope with family stress
  1. Know your own stress cues. ...
  2. Take time to do something that is meaningful, relaxing and fun to you and your family. ...
  3. Practice deep breathing or mindfulness. ...
  4. Get enough sleep. ...
  5. Accept your emotions and feelings. ...
  6. Consider the emotional needs of your family members.
26 May 2020

What are 10 symptoms of stress? ›

These effects might include:
  • Diffculty breathing.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Blurred eyesight or sore eyes.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle aches and headaches.
  • Chest pains and high blood pressure.
  • Indigestion or heartburn.

How do I not let others stress affect me? ›

How to keep from “catching” stress
  1. Block out the negative. ...
  2. Get some fresh air. ...
  3. Talk to someone you trust. ...
  4. Set clear boundaries. ...
  5. Take a mental step back. ...
  6. Remember to breathe. ...
  7. Build up your emotional immune system. ...
  8. Look ahead.
20 Apr 2018

Why does being around people stress me out so much? ›

It's true—stress from others can affect your own stress levels, and have an impact on your health. A 2009 study published in the Public Library of Science found that when people are stressed they release a chemical that can be inhaled by those around them, causing these people to become more anxious, as well.

What are signs of a toxic family? ›

9 signs of a toxic family member or household:
  • They're abusive.
  • You feel depressed or anxious around them.
  • They're always criticizing or blaming you.
  • They're manipulative.
  • Punishment is unwarrantedly harsh.
  • The household or family member can be unpredictable.
  • They're dismissive of your needs.
14 Aug 2022

How do I stop being triggered by family? ›

Why Our Family Triggers UsAnd What to Do
  1. Take frequent breaks. Take as many time-outs as you need to help you breathe, get grounded and regain your composure. ...
  2. Be willing to disappoint people. “Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no,” Frank said. ...
  3. Don't engage in hostility. ...
  4. Limit social media.
20 Nov 2017

Did I grew up in a toxic household? ›

Kids raised in a toxic environment might constantly feel like they are always not good enough or even worthless. Their parents might have always made excessive demands on them and blamed them if they didn't meet their expectations. Basically, they have developed low self-esteem and have a lack of self-care.

Does crying relieve stress? ›

Many people associate crying with feeling sad and making them feel worse, but in reality, crying can help improve your mood - emotional tears release stress hormones. Your stress level lowers when you cry, which can help you sleep better and strengthen your immune system.

How long does stress last? ›

How long does stress last? Stress can be a short-term issue or a long-term problem, depending on what changes in your life. Regularly using stress management techniques can help you avoid most physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms of stress.

When is too much stress? ›

Some of the physical signs that your stress levels are too high include: Pain or tension in your head, chest, stomach, or muscles. Your muscles tend to tense up when you're stressed, and over time this can cause headaches, migraines, or musculoskeletal problems. Digestive problems.

How do I stop people's moods from affecting me? ›

How to avoid absorbing other people's emotions
  1. Create boundaries. You may find it helpful to set appropriate boundaries with others, says Turecek. ...
  2. Establish your baseline. ...
  3. Determine what's yours. ...
  4. Practice grounding activities. ...
  5. Ritualize separation. ...
  6. Spend time in nature. ...
  7. Make time for self-care. ...
  8. Process it with someone.
19 Aug 2021

What is toxic empathy? ›

Toxic empathy is when a person over-identifies with someone else's feelings and directly takes them on as their own. For example, feeling anxious for a friend when they're facing stress at work can be normal.

Why am I so affected by other people's moods? ›

Some people, known as empaths, have such high empathy that they seem to take on the feelings of others. If you're an empath, you might find yourself absorbing the emotions of those around you. When they experience joy, you get caught up in their happiness.

Why do people give me anxiety? ›

Very often the anxiety we feel around other people is a reflection of the way we perceive ourselves. Projection is a common defence mechanism which causes us to take aspects of ourselves (which we find uncomfortable and unsettling) and ascribe them to other people.

Do you tell a toxic person they are toxic? ›

As soon as you notice toxic behaviors, confront the person. Call them out on any lies or inconsistencies. Tell them you don't appreciate how they behave. This shows them that you're paying attention — and you're giving them a chance to explain themselves or apologize.

What is a toxic sister? ›

A toxic sibling relationship is a relationship that is unbalanced in its power dynamic and may involve sibling abuse and dysfunctional sibling rivalry. Sibling estrangement can be caused by parental favouritism, having immature parents, parental or sibling abuse and psychopathy.

What the Bible says about toxic family? ›

In fact, the Scriptures are full of teachings instructing us to leave relationships with wicked or evil people, to be separate from them, to shun, outcast, and purge them from our midst. (1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 13:20, Psalm 1:1, Proverbs 6:27, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 10:13 – these are just a few).

What to do when people try to trigger you? ›

9 ways to deal with people who trigger you
  1. Identify that you're triggered. ...
  2. Identify why someone triggers you. ...
  3. Pause and remove yourself from the situation. ...
  4. Feel the emotion. ...
  5. Breathwork. ...
  6. Remind yourself of the truth. ...
  7. Allow yourself to receive love. ...
  8. Give gratitude.
3 Feb 2022

Why do some people trigger us so much? ›

The answer is: TRAUMA. At some point in our past, someone traumatized us in a way that made us feel exactly the way that person, who yanks our chain, makes us feel. Only this time, we recognize this behavior and we don't tolerate it any longer.

Is it OK to not want to be around family? ›

Disliking your family doesn't make you a bad person, and it doesn't make you any less worthy of love than anyone else. However, understanding the divide between you and your family can be a very relevant and eye-opening experience. It can teach you about standards and what you're willing to accept in life.

Is my family toxic or am I? ›

"Toxic parents exhibit a chronic lack of empathy towards their children," says Shannon Thomas, trauma therapist and author of Healing from Hidden Abuse. "These behaviors can manifest through biting remarks about appearance, relationship status, mental or physical health, financial struggles, or career challenges."

When do you cut ties with a toxic family? ›

5 Signs It's Time to Cut Yourself Off From Your Toxic Family
  1. When your family's treatment is severely impacting you. ...
  2. When there is nothing positive to be gained from the relationship. ...
  3. When you become aware that you've been abused. ...
  4. When you realise the family is not a sacred institution.
18 Aug 2020

What family environment is toxic? ›

A toxic family is one where your family members don't respect your boundaries. Toxic family members create an unhealthy family situation. Toxic family members also build stressful interpersonal relationships and cause mental and emotional distress.

Is it better to cry or hold it in? ›

You'll feel better afterwards

When you cry for emotional reasons, those tears contain stress hormones that help relieve the body of stress-induced chemicals.

Is it OK to cry everyday? ›

Crying for No Reason

And if you are tearful everyday over activities that are normal in your life, that may be depression. And that's not normal and it is treatable.

What are 7 warning signs of stress? ›

Warnings signs of stress in adults may include:
  • Crying spells or bursts of anger.
  • Difficulty eating.
  • Losing interest in daily activities.
  • Increasing physical distress symptoms such as headaches or stomach pains.
  • Fatigue.
  • Feeling guilty, helpless, or hopeless.
  • Avoiding family and friends.
16 May 2022

Can stress Make You Sick? ›

Chronic stress — stress that occurs consistently over a long period of time — can have a negative impact on a person's immune system and physical health. If you are constantly under stress, you may experience physical symptoms such as chest pain, headaches, an upset stomach, trouble sleeping or high blood pressure.

Does stress make you fat? ›

The question of whether excess amounts of cortisol can lead to weight gain is essentially the same as asking if too much stress can cause you to put on unwanted pounds. The answer in both cases is yes.

What are the 5 stages of stress? ›

There are 5 stages of stress, knowing them can help you take action in the moment, to stop yourself spiralling out of control.
  • Stage 1: Fight or Flight. We perceive some kind of threat. ...
  • Stage 2: Damage control. ...
  • Stage 3: Recovery. ...
  • Stage 4: Adaption. ...
  • Stage 5: Burnout.
25 Nov 2021

Why do I get stressed so easily and cry? ›

If you're having trouble dealing with your stress, or you find yourself crying all the time, you might be dealing with a mental health condition such as major depression or bipolar disorder. These are serious mental health conditions that require medical treatment.

What is a great stress reliever? ›

Fortunately, several evidence-based strategies can help you reduce stress and improve your overall psychological well-being. Exercise, mindfulness, spending time with a pet, minimizing screen time, and getting outside more often are all effective methods.

How do you tell someone to stop stressing? ›

To help you get started, we've compiled a list of 8 things to say to someone when they're stressed.
  1. “You're not alone.”
  2. “I'm your #1 fan!”
  3. “It's ok to take a break.”
  4. “How can I help?”
  5. “Your feelings are valid.”
  6. “You've done it before! You can do it again.”
  7. “Focus on one thing at a time.”
  8. “I'm here if you want to talk.”
11 Jun 2020

How do you avoid stress in a relationship? ›

Love, factually: 11 tips for reducing relationship stress
  1. Even if you're single, keep reading. ...
  2. Know when to leave it at the door. ...
  3. Step into their shoes, not on their toes. ...
  4. Replace 'I' with 'we' ...
  5. Identify your stress language. ...
  6. Put your phone down. ...
  7. Ensure that communication is a two-way street.
6 Feb 2020

What is the difference between stressed and stressed out? ›

The term 'stressed out' of course, relates to the concept of stress. But it's defined as a time period where the stressful stimuli become overwhelming. Being "stressed" out is a result of a stressful situation (or combination of situations) that lasts for a longer period of time than one passing instance.

What is second hand stress? ›

You may pick up the other person's emotions without even realising and start getting worried about it. This phenomenon is referred to as secondhand stress. In this situation, a person does not exactly know why he is stressed or is feeling anxious.

What should you not say to a stressed person? ›

What Not to Say
  • “You'll get over it./Snap out of it.” Anxiety disorders don't work like this. ...
  • “I know, ___ makes me feel really anxious, too.” ...
  • “Have you tried ___?” Don't ask someone with anxiety if they've tried certain health or wellness techniques to overcome their feelings.
31 Aug 2021

How do you calm down? ›

When stress, anxiety or fear flare up, these 9 techniques help keep you calmer.
  1. Just breathe. ...
  2. Close your eyes and count to 10 slowly. ...
  3. Chew a piece of gum. ...
  4. Phone a friend – preferably a funny one. ...
  5. Smell lavender. ...
  6. Curl up with your cat or dog. ...
  7. Listen to calming music. ...
  8. Exercise your body.
7 Jan 2021

When should you quit a relationship? ›

Here, experts explain some of the signs that indicate it may be time to let go:
  1. Your needs aren't being met.
  2. You're seeking those needs from others.
  3. You're scared to ask for more from your partner.
  4. Your friends and family don't support your relationship.
  5. You feel obligated to stay with your partner.
27 Aug 2018

When should you let a relationship go? ›

Refusal to Communicate, Address Problems, or Invest

Or perhaps they aren't invested enough in the connection to make an effort. Regardless of the reason, when there's only one person making an effort, it's not really a relationship. It's time to let them go.

Can stress ruin a relationship? ›

Stress can negatively impact relationships.

Although stress is common, it can be harmful for relationships. Oftentimes, people bottle up or keep their stress to themselves, which makes it difficult for their partners to understand what they are going through and to provide support.

What are 5 emotional signs of stress? ›

Warnings signs of stress in adults may include:
  • Crying spells or bursts of anger.
  • Difficulty eating.
  • Losing interest in daily activities.
  • Increasing physical distress symptoms such as headaches or stomach pains.
  • Fatigue.
  • Feeling guilty, helpless, or hopeless.
  • Avoiding family and friends.
16 May 2022

How do I know if I am stressed? ›

Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody. Feeling overwhelmed, as if you are losing control or need to take control. Having a hard time relaxing and quieting your mind. Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), and feeling lonely, worthless, and depressed.

Can stress make you physically sick? ›

Too much stress, however, can suppress your immune system and cause you to get sick more easily. Prolonged periods of stress can also increase your risk of several diseases, including heart disease and cancer. According to a study, 60 to 80 percent of doctor's office visits may be stress-related.

Why do I get anxious for other people? ›

Some people, known as empaths, have such high empathy that they seem to take on the feelings of others. If you're an empath, you might find yourself absorbing the emotions of those around you.

How do I stop being high strung? ›

How to Be Less High Strung
  1. Call yourself out when you become agitated and impatient.
  2. Employ positive self-talk.
  3. Exercise to empower yourself.
  4. Mental strategy: Make a conscious decision to be more calm and peaceful.
  5. Physical strategy: There are lots of things you can do to help you calm your energy.
10 Mar 2021

How do I stop secondhand anxiety? ›

Protecting Yourself from Second-Hand Anxiety
  1. 1). Label your emotions. Naming your emotions is a way to regulate them. ...
  2. 2). Listen empathetically. Listen with compassion and validate their feelings but let them own their own feelings. ...
  3. 3). Take a deep breath. ...
  4. 4). Take some space.


1. Beyond Stress and Anxiety: How Stress Affects the Body and What You Can Do to Manage It
(Stanford Health Care)
2. 6 Daily Habits to Reduce Stress & Anxiety
3. How to help someone struggling with mental health, anxiety and stress
(WKYC Channel 3)
4. How stress affects your body - Sharon Horesh Bergquist
5. How to protect your brain from stress | Niki Korteweg | TEDxAmsterdamWomen
(TEDx Talks)
6. How stress is killing us (and how you can stop it). | Thijs Launspach | TEDxUniversiteitVanAmsterdam
(TEDx Talks)
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