Stress is an unavoidable part of being a human being. Medically, stress is the body’s response to physical, mental, or emotional pressure. Stress levels are on the rise and so are myths and misconceptions around it. Here are some of the most common.
Myth 1: It is the same for everyone
Stress is personal and subjective and affects different people differently. Its impact is also very subjective with people handling certain types of pressure better than other types of pressure.
Myth 2: It is a motivator
Present-day society with its emphasis on productivity often views increasing stress as a motivator. This is false. People are motivated by stimulation and engagement (e.g., setting goals or tackling new projects) not by being under pressure. If you are accomplishing your goals while under pressure, you are not succeeding because of the stress, but in spite of it. This myth is insidious because it forms apologist arguments that prop up oppressive systems that make life difficult for a majority of the population.
Myth 3: It is good for you
There is a common misconception that stress is good for you or can be good for you. Research has found that it contributes to 75% to 90% of medical conditions, including the six leading causes of death. Stimulation is good for, stress isn’t.
Myth 4: No symptoms, no stress
“Minor” symptoms like headaches and stomach acid are early warning signs that your life is getting out of hand and should not be ignored. A common misconception is that such minor symptoms can be ignored. False. Don’t wait until the symptoms are as major as a heart attack because then it may be too late.
Myth 5: It causes grey hair
One long-standing myth links grey hair to stress but it’s not supported by research. The pigment responsible for hair colour is produced less as people age which is why age is a large factor when it comes to going grey. Other factors affecting hair colour include genetic predisposition, cigarette smoking, and illnesses like tumour growth, heart disease, alopecia, and low bone loss.
Myth 6: It causes cancer and ulcers
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of ulcers are caused by the stomach bacteria H. Pylori, not stress. Being stressed can increase the levels of stomach acid, thereby contributing to stomach issues but it’s not the main cause. According to the National Cancer Institute, the links between stress and cancer are weak at best. However, some studies have found a link between certain psychological factors and an increased link of developing cancer, though being stressed does not mean a person will develop the disease.
Health: H. Pylori – Symptoms, Treatment And Management
Myth 7: A few drinks can help
You’ve heard it said that one glass of wine or three after a stressful day can help you destroy, verily verily I say unto you, that is not the case. One study found that alcohol actually stimulates the release of the stress hormone cortisol.
Myth 8: Without it, people would sit around doing nothing
One look at young children exposes this for the lie it is. Young children are often stress-free, yet full of energy to explore their interests and get things they’re interested in done. This could be the same for adults. Some people for a variety of reasons including the stressful conditions of daily life are so used to being stressed that they don’t remember what life was like without it.
Myth 9: It is unavoidable
Preventing stressful situations from occurring may be outside our power but we can control our reactions to them. There are also ways to manage stress such as the practice of mindfulness. Studies find that cultivating a focused awareness of the present moment lessens stress reactions and decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. You may not have control over things, but there are small things such as meditation that you can do to help you cope and manage things.
Lifestyle: 5 Simple tips for managing stress
Mental health: 9 Ways for men to reduce stress
Mental Health: 8 Myths About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Mental Health: How To Use Stress To Your Advantage