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Common myths about stress busted

Know how you can manage stress and lead a happier, more productive life


Job frustrations, frictions in close relationships, health concerns, financial worries – there are  so many triggers for stress. Basically, you experience stress when you feel out of control as you believe that you don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to handle a situation.

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. But too much unmanaged stress can take a heavy toll on health and wellbeing. Before you learn how to effectively manage stress, it is necessary to shed your misconceptions on the subject. Given below are some of the common myths about stress… and the truth.

Myth 1:  Stress is the same for everybody.

What is stressful for one person may not be so for another. For instance, some people get stressed by paying monthly bills; others find their work stressful.

Myth 2: Stress comes from your circumstances. 

Stress actually comes from the thoughts you have about your circumstances, not the circumstances themselves.

Myth 3: Stress is a motivator.

Having deadlines, setting goals, and pushing yourself to perform are stimulating and motivating. But if you are anxious, upset, or frustrated, you are dealing with stress. Stimulation is good for you. Stress is not.

Myth 4: Some stress is good for you. 

Dr. Hans Selye, the founder of the modern stress concept, observed that sports and sex also produce a surge in stress hormones. So he promoted the idea of “good stress”. But research since then has proven that stress contributes to 75-90% of medical conditions.

Myth 5:  No symptoms, no stress.

Just because you’re not experiencing “typical” stress symptoms, doesn’t mean you’re not feeling stressed. Common physical symptoms include shortness of breath, feeling constantly tired, dizziness, nausea, diarrhoea and muscle tension. Feeling anxious, confused or irritable and finding it difficult to concentrate are mental signs of stress.

Myth 6:  Only major symptoms of stress require attention.

Don’t ignore minor symptoms like headache and acidity. They are the early warnings that your life is getting out of hand. cvr2

Myth 7: Success and stress go together.

On the contrary, stress impedes success as it reduces productivity, Stress decreases mental sharpness and clarity, lowers creativity, diminishes ability to problem-solve, causes mental exhaustion and eventually leads to physical burnout.

Myth 8: Drinking alcohol and smoking reduce stress.

According to a study for the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, alcohol actually increases the amount of stress hormones produced. As for smoking, though nicotine creates a temporary sense of relaxation, smoking actually increases anxiety.

Myth 9: Only negative events cause stress.

Some of the happiest events like a wedding day, the birth of a child, or the first day of a new job can be very stressful.

Myth 10: Stress is a mental health condition

Stress in itself is not a mental health condition. But if unaddressed, too much stress for too long can cause mental health issues like depression or anxiety.

Myth 11: With the right attitude, you never need to feel stressed.

This is not true. In fact, this belief can lead to negative self-assessment as people may think they aren’t working hard enough to stay positive.

Myth 12: Just learn the right techniques and your stress will be gone

Stress management techniques like exercise, meditation, and positive thinking can minimize stress and create resilience toward it. However, no technique can completely eliminate stress.

How to manage stress

You can plan your life so that stress does not overwhelm you. You can also follow the tips given below to manage stress better:

Breathe deeply: This oxygenates your blood and helps you relax instantly. Inhale while placing your hand on your stomach. Observe how your hand moves out as your stomach expands with air. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat. 

Be active: Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clear your thoughts and enable you to deal with your problems more calmly. 

Visualize calm situations: Picture a relaxing scene, such as strolling in a park or lying on a beach. Focus on the sights, sounds and smells.

Take a break: This could mean making more time for your interests and hobbies. Gardening, that helps you commune with nature, is a great stressbuster. Or, plan a vacation. A change of scene is a good way of reducing stress levels.  


Smile and laugh often: Smiling transmits nerve impulses from the facial muscles to the brain making us feel relaxed and happy. Keep your sense of humour alive. A good laugh is an excellent stress reliever.

Learn something new:  Pick up a new language or sport. By continuing to learn, you become more emotionally resilient as a person. This equips you to cope with change and setbacks.

Do volunteer work: Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective.

Say an affirmation: Repeat a calming positive statement to yourself 10 times when you feel stressed.  This will prevent negative thinking.

Write it down: Writing provides perspective. Put down on paper what is stressing you and what you can do about it. Accept the things you can’t change.

Learn to say no:  Trying to do too many things can be very stressful. Stop trying to please everyone and manage your time well.

Take a warm, relaxing bath: While doing so, imagine the hot water is washing your stress down the drain. Getting a massage also helps you relax both physically and mentally.

Listen to music: Soothing music can slow heart rate and increase mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain called endorphins.

Practise mindfulness: Mindfulness, which leads to relaxation, is all about living attentively in the moment. Prayer, meditation and yoga are other good ways to manage stress.

Connect with people: Sharing your troubles with a family member or friend can give you perspective and make you feel cared for and supported.

Quit being a perfectionist: Being a perfectionist can be very stressful. So can a fear of failure.

Keep your lifestyle healthy: Eat well-balanced meals and get sufficient sleep. Don’t rely on alcohol, smoking, food or caffeine as your ways of coping.

And, finally, an effective long-term approach to manage stress involves learning to think Seek professional help and support if you are unable to manage stress on your own.


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