Stress has become such a dominant part of everyday life that most people assume it’s just a natural condition. From busy work lives to hectic family schedules, we deal with stressful situations so regularly that it’s become commonplace. Did you know that stress doesn’t have to interfere with your life? There are plenty of misconceptions when it comes to stress. Here are five of the most common.
Myth: Stress affects everyone the same way.
Stress manifests in physical and psychological ways, but not everyone experiences the same reaction to stress. For some, stress causes only mental symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating or an overwhelmed feeling. Others may only experience physical symptoms, which can include a racing heartbeat and nausea. Likewise, people respond to stressful stimuli in different ways. You may not be phased about selling your house, for instance, while your husband finds the experience completely overwhelming.
Myth: You can’t avoid stress.
Contrary to popular belief, stress is not inevitable. It’s true that difficult situations will arise, but stress itself is a reaction, not a cause. In other words, how you handle challenging circumstances depends on you rather than your body. Mindfulness, meditation and yoga are good ways to enhance your ability to cope with stressful situations, but these aren’t your only options. Deep breathing can also help as can taking control of your time and commitments. You won’t always be able to avoid stressful things, but you can avoid a stressed reaction to those things.
Myth: If you don’t have symptoms, then you’re fine.
Just as everyone reacts differently to stress, you may not realize how stressed you are until it’s too late. For some people, stress doesn’t manifest into obvious symptoms so that it goes unnoticed and untreated. Strokes, heart attacks and other medical conditions can be caused by untreated stress responses. If you’ve got a full plate, then consider paring down your daily life and finding ways to manage your time before stress gets out of hand.
Myth: Stress is another word for anxiety.
Stress, anxiety and worry get used interchangeably, but these three words mean different things. After a car accident, you may worry about impending medical and repair bills, feel stressed at the thought of missing work and develop anxiety over driving in general. These are unique responses to the same situation. Anxiety is a diagnosable mental disorder while stress and worry are short-term reactions. All three are valid responses, but anxiety is a specific condition that benefits from therapy and medication.
Myth: You don’t have to worry about stress.
You might think that stress will just resolve on its own. This isn’t true. In fact, the longer you ignore or refuse to mitigate your stressed reactions, the greater your chances are of suffering from a serious medical or psychological problem later. If you’re stressed, find ways to relax. If these don’t work, then talk to your doctor about what’s causing your stress. Dealing with the problem head-on could help you to avoid a breakdown.