Stress is something you can put off managing – Unfortunately, stress can not wait for us to have time to handle it. “In my practice, I work with a considerable number of high-functioning professionals, and I have now come to expect them to commit to taking care of themselves after the busy season or their next professional deadline,” says Pryor. “The thing is, we cannot make up for stress periods similarly to how we now know we cannot make up for lost sleep. It is important to maintain good self-care practices because of this.”
Ignoring stress will make it go away – It is common for people to try to take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach with stress, says Jessica Rohlfing Pryor, Ph.D., a clinical lecturer in the department of psychology at Northwestern University. This is harmful to your body and wellbeing, Dr. Pryor says, and it potentially puts you at risk for problems such as sleep problems, weight gain, gastrointestinal conditions, heart disease, mood disorders, reproductive issues, and cognitive impairment.
Stress is all in your mind – Another one of the misconceptions about stress is that it only impacts your mental wellbeing. However, your physical health can be significantly impacted by stress. Two major ways in mental health are closely linked to stress: It can be caused by mental health problems, like depression or anxiety, and it can make mental health problems worse. “I have seen stress be the cause of very unusual ailments that one would not normally associate with stress,” says Dr. Mayer. Muscle aches, bloating, sore throats, dizziness, nervous shakes, ringing ears, and heart disease may all be linked to or exacerbated by stress.
Willpower can overcome stress – We’ve all heard people say to others about stress: “Oh, just get over it,” or “Pull yourself together.” But stress is not something you can just “get over,” according to John Mayer, MD. People need coping mechanisms and lifestyle changes to manage stress, he says. Here are some tips for managing stress.
Stress is a motivator – People often say that stress is a motivator, but this is old-fashioned thinking, says Dr. Mayer. “Research has shown that the best motivators are internal motivation, not external motivators. Stress as a motivator is temporary, thus ineffective.” The important thing is to recognize the difference between stimulus and stress. Pushing yourself to succeed is stimulating, figuring out how to overcome obstacles, and setting goals are stimulating, and that is different from stress. Anyone you know that looks to be thriving under pressure, they may be succeeding despite the stress and not because of it.
It doesn’t interfere with your thought process – While stress isn’t a psychiatric diagnosis, it can lead to distorted or paranoid thinking in people who are prone to those mental health issues, says Dr. Mayer. (Once you get these facts about stress straight, make sure you watch out for these signs that you’re more stressed than you realize.)
Stress is good for you – While there are certain situations where mild stress may be beneficial; it’s dangerous to put a positive spin on all types of stress. An example of this is “mild performance anxiety” before a speech, presentation, or performance, which can help a person be alert and energized during these types of situations. It is time to seek help when your stress has reached a level that it causes harm to your relationships, your overall health, your family, and your job. “If stress is constant and prolonged, it develops into chronic stress,” warns Pryor.
Stress is the same for everybody – Like all mental health issues, there is no “one size fits all.” Quite the opposite is exact, says Dr. Mayer. “Stress is idiosyncratic, which is why there are so many varieties of physical manifestation.” Regardless of whether you get stressed out about your career, having people over for dinner, your relationship, or your finances, your stress triggers are unique to you. Everyone responds to stress in their way, too. People’s responses to stress are a combination of emotional and physical, or one of the two.
Stress cannot be cured – Stress does indeed take time to subside and have no catch-all cure. “Chronic stress, which is constant and persists over an extended period, can be debilitating and overwhelming,” says the American Psychological Association. Coping mechanisms and making healthy lifestyle choices may help people with chronic stress manage stressors and reduce stress. Possible treatment methods for stress are medication, various complementary and alternative therapies, ecotherapy, and talk therapies.
Stress is inevitable – Life does come with those unavoidable stressors, but we shouldn’t expect. Life does come with unavoidable stressors, but we shouldn’t expect to get stressed simply because we are alive. “The key is how we cope with the daily bombardment of stress,” says Dr. Mayer. Though, it is possible to manage your stress by following certain steps to make it unlikely to overwhelm you. Some great stress management tips are being aware of your stress as it lets you plan, put self-care mechanisms in place, and take all necessary precautions.
Stress is a choice – Labeling stress as a choice is a dangerous, certain choices you make in life can lead to stress in your life. Labeling stress as a choice can add to the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Remember, people have different ways to respond to stress and have different stress triggers. Someone might have an easy time talking themselves down from being stressed, while another would have stress regardless of pep-talking to themselves. Just because you’re stressed doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up about it; just use proven expert-approved methods to help relieve yourself from stress.
Only medication is effective in treating stress – People do take medication for stress relief—and find it useful—but it’s not the only treatment option. Research shows that the best course of treatment for those who need treatment for stress is the combination of therapy and medications, says Dr. Mayer. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps you identify positive actions you can take, recognize your trigger points, and understand your thought patterns, may be recommended by a therapist. They may also recommend yoga and meditation with a particular focus on reducing stress.
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