Stress is the body’s natural mechanism to trigger a “fight or flight” response to fear. It has also turned out to be one of the major health hazards today.
Living under constant stress can destroy your health in the long run and hence, stress should not be overlooked. On the other hand, certain myths about stress exist which need to be busted!1
Misconceptions About Stress
1. Stress Is A Normal Body Process
You know that stress is the body’s natural response to fear. When the body encounters a fear stimulus, it reacts with a response of either a fight to survive or flight from the cause of stress. You would often dismiss stress as unimportant. This may not be the right interpretations. With prolonged exposure to stressors, you get into a stage of adaptation or resistance and you get exhausted in the final stage. A self-analysis can establish what you really want and work towards only those targets. Self-management and effective planning can help avoid the stressors in the first hand. If the stressors are constant, you can take precautionary action to adapt to the environment before you encounter them.2
2. Stress Is A Motivator To Achieve Your Goals
When you complain of stress related to the workload to your manager, you would often hear a reply from him/her asking you to take it positively and work towards achieving the goals instead. This is a serious myth that advises you to dive into the same work that is causing you the discomfort. Optimum performance can only come from converting the stress factors to creative motivators. For instance, if you have an employee in your organization who is struggling with stress issues, it is crucial for you to aid him/her in the development of their individual coping skills and to reduce the excessive stress in the workplace itself. Your employer may consider that you will lose your mental acuity and effectiveness if your job is too soft to handle. High expectations and unrealistic deadlines can cause problems and if ignored can get piled up within your inner self. In order to maintain efficiency, stress should be controlled and not ignored.3
3. Stress Is An Incurable Illness
The role of stress in health issues cannot be overlooked but at the same time, it isn’t a serious illness that has no cure. Stress like any other illness can be dealt with and managed. It can be reduced through techniques like meditation and breathing exercises, a positive approach towards life and a balanced lifestyle. Social interaction and sincere support prove beneficial to your stress levels. Individualized stress management plans are to be devised for specific needs that include eliminating the sources of the stress.4
4. Stress And Depression Are The Same
Since the two conditions exhibit the same symptoms, it is easy to get confused with stress and depression. Which is not true ofcourse. When your stress goes beyond your ability to control, you become helpless and depression may follow. On the contrary, all stressful life events do not significantly predict later depression.5
The difference between stress and depression depends on the pressure it exerts on you. While stress can affect your day to day life, depression is a sickness that affects your reasoning and mental stability negatively which needs medical intervention. Depression is not triggered by specific stress factors, and you may feel low for nothing at all. Stress management at an early stage is beneficial to avoid depression later.
5. No Symptoms Means No Stress
If you are not exhibiting any symptoms of stress, it means you have no stress. This is a myth. Symptoms associated with stress occur on all bad days and not all the symptoms can be associated with stress. Some of the symptoms like anger or an inability to concentrate can be due to the excess fatigue experienced throughout the day. You will have trouble identifying the symptoms depending on your individual strengths and weaknesses.
You might experience physical or behavioral symptoms, the latter of which may be obvious to others while the former is obvious to yourself. Awareness of your stress and how to manage it can help reduce your own stress and make others aware of the stress they are experiencing. Prayer and meditation can help you in retaining your inner peace. Meditation exercises for mindfulness can decrease the stress and symptoms if you have any.6
In a nutshell, stress is not a serious illness. It can be dealt with planned individualized stress management techniques and being empathetic towards one another. Social support and a positive approach towards life can help you heal and avoid the stressors. So, the next time someone talks to you about stress in their life, please lend an ear and listen. Just listening to them can do wonders for their physical and mental health.
|↑1||Bernstein, Andrew. The Myth of Stress: Where Stress Really Comes From and How to Live a H. Simon and Schuster, 2010.|
|↑2||Serban, George, ed. Psychopathology of human adaptation. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.|
|↑3||Gmelch, Walter H. “Stress for success: How to optimize your performance.” Theory into practice 22, no. 1 (1983): 7-14.|
|↑4||Stevens, Beryl. “Wisdom for Healing.” Wordclay, 2009.|
|↑5||Hewitt, Paul L., and Dennis G. Dyck. “Perfectionism, stress, and vulnerability to depression.” Cognitive Therapy and Research 10, no. 1 (1986): 137-142.|
|↑6||Carmody, James, and Ruth A. Baer. “Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program.” Journal of behavioral medicine 31, no. 1 (2008): 23-33.|