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 healthy. 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


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.