“The other major hazard when it comes to worry and anxiety is that, unlike other negative emotions, they seem productive; chewing over a problem feels like doing something about it. And so we’d like others to share our worry; that way several people will be ‘working’ on the problem.”
Anxiety is contagious. Studies show we have an unfortunate tendency to adopt other people’s anxieties when we find ourselves in close proximity to them (on the bright side, the same is also true of others’ happiness).
This Guardian article breaks down the phenomenon and explains how to avoid adopting other people’s anxiety, including to react in a calm manner which not only protects you, but actually lessens the other person’s anxiety as well.