Six myths surround stress. Dispelling them enables us to understand our problems and
then take action against them. Let's look at these myths.
Myth 1: Stress is the same for everybody.
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.
Myth 2: Stress is always bad for you.
According to this view, zero stress makes us happy and health. 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.
Myth 3: Stress is everywhere, so you can't do anything about it.
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.
Myth 4: The most popular techniques for reducing stress are the best ones.
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.
Myth 5: No symptoms, no stress.
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.
Myth 6: Only major symptoms of stress require attention.
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.
Copyright ?1997 American Psychological Association. All Rights Reserved.