You know when someone laughs, and you start laughing too, even if you have no idea what’s so funny? Or when someone yawns, and it makes you feel like yawning as well? (Maybe you’re feeling like yawning right now… :P)
Well, calm can work the same way.
In my experience, few things can be as soothing and comforting as the presence of another human being. Of course, few things can be as stressful either; it all depends on the person.
In the past, I’ve talked about ASMR, which is basically a relaxing sensation some people experience in response to the right stimuli. It’s that feeling you might get when someone brushes your hair or when you listen to a guided meditation recording. Well the thing is, you can “ASMR” someone to calm them, just like you might massage a sore muscle.
Some people do this naturally and unconsciously; they have a very serene manner about them that makes just being in their presence relaxing. My ex-partner was one such person; when I was with her, it was like my OCD demons were tranquilized, and things that normally petrified me suddenly seemed surmountable.
It doesn’t have to be an intimate partner, mind you; it can be a parent, a sibling, or a friend.
One of the most effective triggers is speech. The power of speaking slowly and softly is remarkable; I often find that just listening to someone can be comforting. Another is simply being a stable point when the rest of the world seems like it’s spinning out of control. If I’m panicking, someone else being calm and in control reassures me that the anxiety is unfounded, because clearly they’re not worried, so maybe I shouldn’t be either. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether a fear is realistic or just an overreaction, so other people can be a helpful reality check.
Our fellow human beings can be the primary source of our stress, but they can also be one of the most effective antidotes. “Contagious” gets a bad name, but, like a smile or friendly laughter, some contagions are worth sharing. 😉