Secondhand stress as bad for you as your own stress?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- This time of year, with so many looming to-dos, it's hard to feel like these two.

"Stress? What stress? Good heavens," laughed Ann and Richard Hunt.

Most folks probably feel a bit more like Doreen Wilson.

"Yes, I do feel stressed sometimes this time of year. I have a lot of people to cook for and I have only one oven," Wilson said with a hearty chuckle.

Turns out, even if you can be chill and manage your own stress, other people's anxiety can still stress you out, big time.

Happiness researcher Michelle Gielan says secondhand stress is similar to secondhand smoke, that you can "catch it," much like a cold. Seeing someone else in a stressed state can impact our own hormonal and nervous system as if we were experiencing the stress firsthand.

Researchers say the effects of unmanaged and constant secondhand stress on the body are the same as chronic stress and that's been linked to heart disease, cancer and diabetes.