A lot of people think that stress equals bad. but that is simply not true. Stress refers to pressure, strain or tension. Stress is a necessary part of life and without it, there would be no growth, no bone density, no muscles. Getting out of a chair puts strain on your body, but you better get out of the chair or you will look like Jabba the Hut from Star Wars. Taxing the brain by thinking about things you haven’t thought of before helps you to learn, though fretting over thing of which you have no control is destructive. The problem is not stress, but too much of the destructive sort of stress. The American Psychological Association has a list of common misconceptions about stress.
Six myths surround stress. Dispelling them enables us to understand our problems and then take action against them. Let’s look at these myths.
Completely wrong. Stress is different for each of us. What is stressful for one person may or may not be stressful for another; each of us responds to stress in an entirely different way.
According to this view, zero stress makes us happy and healthy. Wrong. Stress is to the human condition what tension is to the violin string: too little and the music is dull and raspy; too much and the music is shrill or the string snaps. Stress can be the kiss of death or the spice of life. The issue, really, is how to manage it. Managed stress makes us productive and happy; mismanaged stress hurts and even kills us.
Not so. You can plan your life so that stress does not overwhelm you. Effective planning involves setting priorities and working on simple problems first, solving them, and then going on to more complex difficulties. When stress is mismanaged, it’s difficult to prioritize. All your problems seem to be equal and stress seems to be everywhere.
Again, not so. No universally effective stress reduction techniques exist. We are all different, our lives are different, our situations are different, and our reactions are different. Only a comprehensive program tailored to the individual works.
Absence of symptoms does not mean the absence of stress. In fact, camouflaging symptoms with medication may deprive you of the signals you need for reducing the strain on your physiological and psychological systems.
This myth assumes that the “minor” symptoms, such as headaches or stomach acid, may be safely ignored. Minor symptoms of stress are the early warnings that your life is getting out of hand and that you need to do a better job of managing stress.
Adapted from The Stress Solution by Lyle H. Miller, Ph.D., and Alma Dell Smith, Ph.D.
The full text of articles from APA Help Center may be reproduced and distributed for noncommercial purposes with credit given to the American Psychological Association. Any electronic reproductions must link to the original article on the APA Help Center. Any exceptions to this, including excerpting, paraphrasing or reproduction in a commercial work, must be presented in writing to the APA. Images from the APA Help Center may not be reproduced.