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Everyone feels stressed at one time or another. But what does it mean to feel stressed? Can stress be good for you?
Stress is your body’s normal biological response to the demands of life, says the Mayo Clinic. It happens when your brain feels threatened, causing a flood of hormones and a feeling of alarm. The hormones are meant to help you fight the threat. However, if your body regularly feels threatened, it can mean that you are in a constant state of alarm. That doesn’t give you a chance to recover, so you may feel tired and anxious.
Many myths surround the idea of stress and the best ways to prevent it. To better understand stress, here are a few of the most popular myths about stress and the real facts to help you understand it.
Myth 1: Stress comes from outside factors. While some situations seem more stressful than others – such as the death of a family member or starting a new job – the stress you feel comes from how you deal with what’s happening, not from what’s happening itself. That’s why people have different reactions to the same scenario.
Myth 2: Everyone experiences stress in the same way. On the contrary, something that feels stressful to one person may not be for another. What’s important is learning to cope with things that can cause stress in our lives. People who experience a great amount of stress can still learn better ways to manage it.
Myth 3: Some stress is good for you. It's important to differentiate between stressors and those things that can excite you to action. If you are feeling worried, anxious or depressed, these feelings can be harmful to your overall wellbeing. On the other hand, goal-setting and striving to meet deadlines can be good for you. It can motivate you to be your best.
Myth 4: Stress is not a big deal. Stress can affect your entire body. It can make many health problems worse, from depression to migraines to asthma.
Stress also raises your heart rate and blood pressure, making your heart work harder. Over time, this may damage your blood vessels and contribute to heart disease.
Because stress can cause many health issues, one of the best things you can do for your health is to learn how to manage stress.
Managing Stress We all have to find ways to manage stress in our lives, because we all experience it. You can have a short-lived stressor, like getting stuck in traffic. Or it could be a day-long string of mishaps or a day full of meetings.
Sources: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body ; https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-basics/hlv-20049495
Originally published March 14, 2016; Revised 2019
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