For many people, stress is a mystery, secret, or problem with different definitions and descriptions.
Someone may experience stress over time, another person may experience stress about a particular situation and some talk about stressful events, but what is pressure from a medical point of view??
For those working in mental health, stress is an emotional response intended to cope with the many factors of life, depending on the factors involved. These stressors can vary from minor to major, depending on the individual.
To better understand the stress and its impact on you, here are eight myths you need to debunk to free yourself from certain false beliefs that can create unnecessary worries in you and make your life more difficult.
Myth 1: Stress is the same for everyone
How does stress affect different people?
Unfortunately, the answer is not straightforward. Stress is very personal and subjective. A stressor for one person may not upset another person at all. Pressure falls into several distinct categories. Categories of focus include:
- Stress resulting from a traumatic event such as mass shooting, natural disaster and many other occasions;
- The typical pressure generated by work, school, family issues and daily responsibilities;
- Stress that comes on suddenly from a life change like divorce, job loss, or cancer diagnosis.
What is the impact of stress?
The impact of stress is also very subjective. People can deal with some types of stress better than others, or they may bounce back faster, depending on the kind of stress.
Resilience to stress may be attributable to genetics, although the research supporting this notion is poor. Generally speaking, everyday stress is more accessible for people to deal with than stress experienced following a traumatic event, such as post-traumatic stress.
In reality, stress is a highly subjective experience, so it is emotional and different for each person.
Myth 2: No noticeable symptom means no stress
In some people, stress can quickly appear through changes in behaviour or specifically after traumatic events.
In other individuals, it can be tough to determine if their behaviour stresses a person. These people probably seem normal and hide their stress well, but underneath they struggle mentally. Stress is usually experienced mentally and emotionally.
Just because a person isn’t showing signs or symptoms of stress doesn’t mean that they’re not stressed.
Myth 3: Stress is always bad
Is there good stress?
Stress can sometimes be beneficial, and specific stress levels can make a person more alert and improve both behaviour and cognition.
Too little stress can cause people to develop depression or become bored. The difference between good stress and bad stress lies – the length of time an individual experiences stress.
Acute or short-term stress can benefit individuals, while long-term or chronic stress can become overwhelming and negatively affect a person’s quality of life.
Stress can be beneficial when we realize that we are using it to do more things in a freely and deliberately chosen space of time.
Myth 4: Stress is everywhere and can’t be avoided
Learning to avoid stress is complex, and sometimes people cannot avoid stress, especially when the cause of the pressure is from the outside. In some cases, avoiding stress creates more stress. Nevertheless, there are effective ways to overcome anxiety.
First, specific stressors can be avoided. For example, college-aged people are infamous for waiting until the last minute to start an assignment. This behaviour creates unnecessary stress and can be avoided with effective time management decisions and a clear list of priorities.
There are many effective stress management strategies that people use every day. Some of these strategies include, but are not limited to:
- Understand what gives rise to stress;
- Have a support system including friends, family or colleagues;
- Choose a period of relaxing massage by health professionals;
- Daily exercise, meditation or any relaxation;
- Set clear, realistic, measurable and achievable goals;
- Never set objectives on time.
Stress can be avoided in several ways.
Myth 5: Stress causes gray hair
This myth has been around for a very long time that high-stress levels cause gray hair.
However, this is not supported by research. First, the hair doesn’t just turn gray, and the pigment responsible for hair colour is produced less with age. Thus, age is an essential factor in the development of gray hair and the genetic predisposition of a person.
Some other diseases and factors that can cause gray hair include:
- Vitamin deficiency;
- Taking certain medications;
- Low bone mass;
- The growth of a tumour;
- Hair loss;
- Heart disease;
- Smoke cigarettes.
Therefore, the evidence suggests that stress is not a significant factor in developing gray hair, if at all.
Gray hair has other causes besides emotional stress.
Myth 6: Only the main symptoms of stress need special attention
Pressure can quickly change from acute to chronic if symptoms are not managed.
Chronic stress has been negatively linked to many physical problems. From a physiological point of view, stress hormones have a tangible impact on the functioning of a person daily.
Research has shown that too many stress hormones can affect:
- Memory ;
- Immune system ;
- The cardiovascular system;
- The endocrine system;
- The gastrointestinal system.
In other words, stress hormones can produce a whole-body response even if an individual has minor symptoms of stress. Typical treatments for anxiety include learning stress management techniques, prescription drugs, behaviour therapy, and stress management. They are relaxing massage therapy.
Even the minor symptoms of stress need to be understood and addressed.
Myth 7: Stress is a motivator
For some people, short-term stress can be a motivator, especially acute stress.
Acute stress helps some people with tasks such as meeting essential deadlines and increases a person’s alertness. Additionally, times of acute stress can help people do their best and think creatively about solving problems.
In these cases, stress is justified as a motivating force to achieve something that matters.
It is not stress but a desire based on a preference. When a need or an obligation replaces a preference, passion becomes a duty that is no longer a natural thing but quite normal.
Love is a natural and motivating thing, while fear is a standard and demotivating thing.
Stress can motivate some people with fear but causes overall adverse health effects.
Myth 8: Drinking alcohol is an effective way to deal with stress
Having a drink is sometimes a good stress reliever. How many times have we heard the phrase that moderation tastes so much better? Is this sentence misleading?
If someone is stressed out and goes out for a drink with friends, being with them usually relieves stress, rather than the alcoholic drink itself.
If a person is at home and uses alcohol to relieve stress or fall asleep, problems can arise. One of the reasons that alcohol should not be used for stress relief is that alcohol impacts the parts of the brain responsible for decision-making and balance.
Additionally, although a person may fall asleep more quickly after a drink or two, later in the night, they may wake up frequently or wake up too early, as sleep cycles are affected. It is essential to find other methods of relieving stress instead of consuming more alcohol or drugs.
Drinking alcohol can be even more of a problem for someone who is under stress.
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