What are some common myths about stress

In need of less stress? Then you shouldn't be fooled by these stress myths in the future


Inspiration, food for thought and tips for a good and fulfilling life

Everyone seems to know it, everyone seems to have it, and everyone would like an effective remedy for it - you probably too. I am talking about a companion that seems to be around you all the time: The stress. Although the phenomenon is so widespread in our society, only those at least really know about it.

On the contrary: Numerous myths have emerged that are bravely passed on and lead to true thought traps. Which don't make you less stressful. But on the contrary. Unfortunately, they are often the reason why you then actually feel stressed.

Such erroneous thoughts and ideas unnecessarily rob you of energies and reduce your resilience and your resources, which you urgently need "in the fight" against your stress. This article is a mini-training. Together with you, I would like to expose such harmful thought traps that have probably also crept into you and your stressful experience. And show you how you can easily convert these into helpful thought processes and coping strategies. You will see that with the right look at your stress you will immediately feel much less stressed ;-).

Thinking trap 1:"My stress is caused by external circumstances."

You will probably agree with this statement intuitively. I admit that it is pretty convincing to the first approximation. Maybe it can even be confirmed with a look at your everyday life.

For example, when Deutsche Bahn lives up to its reputation again, you are pressed for time and have a very (!) Important appointment. Then you feel powerless and helpless, your stress level increases. But believe me when I tell you that your own assessment of the situation stresses you much more than the circumstances themselves.

This also explains why some manage to stay cool in such situations while others are insane.

Unfortunately, you also tend to tend to judge your coping skills less than they really are. Try to remember a situation where you actually failed. I bet you can think of situations more quickly where your stress has been completely in vain. Often unrealistic beliefs are behind your stress levels. Try to track down such misjudgments ("if I don't do everything perfectly, then ...") and to prevent them as far as possible. This effectively ensures that you feel less stress. Because it is, as Epicurus recognized it long ago:

“It's not the things that bother us; it's the way we look at them. "
- Epicurus

So let's reformulate the statement like this: "My stress arises from my perception of the situation / external circumstances."

And you can actively work on that. Try to counteract potentially stressful situations by turning them into something positive. For example, I've gotten into the habit of using long car journeys as “time to talk to friends and family on the phone”. This even turns a nerve-wracking traffic jam into real quality time.

Thinking trap 2: “Only when something really bad has happened am I actually stressed. I don't have to be active beforehand. "

Stress doesn't always have to be Hollywood level. In your everyday life there will probably be rare exploding cars or wild car chases. A common misconception is that bad individual events such as a serious accident or death generate particularly high levels of stress and therefore have a particularly negative impact on your health.

In truth, everyday stresses, the so-called ones, are more harmful to health and unfortunately also more frequent daily hassles: You misplace the key, have an argument with someone or - again - stuck in a traffic jam. These micro-stressors are dangerous because they often last for many years and at some point are considered normal.For you that means: You don't even notice that your stress barrel is getting fuller due to such mini-stressors.

Maybe something like this sounds familiar to you: "What are my little inconveniences compared to the problems of my neighbor, who has just been diagnosed with cancer?"This way of thinking is problematic because you then see no need to take care of yourself. Although it does exist! Because if these micro-stressors add up and you don't counteract them, there will actually be a “big bang” at some point.

So let's rephrase the statement like this: "I should also perceive daily mini-stressors and counteract them preventively through continuous self-care". In this way, you can prevent your daily hassles from developing into a stress-disaster at an early stage.

Trap 3: "What can I do to avoid stress?"

"No more stress" - behind this slogan are empty promises. You will never live a life without stress!

Your body releases stress hormones when you wake up in the morning to get you going. Noises, whether from traffic or crying babies, alert your brain. Even a passionate kiss is stressful. So you shouldn't always long for less stress ;-).

So your goal shouldn't be to banish stress or demonize it. The reason you instinctively would like to do this is because of the myth Stress is a bad thing per se.

It is not so. On the contrary: stress makes you fit for challenges. You can reach your highest level of performance when you are moderately stressed. Then you can cope with difficult situations better. Stress makes you wide awake and quick to react and lets you react adequately to stress.

The decisive factor for the effect of stress is not whether you have any, but how you rate it. How you feel about your stress.
Your attitude towards stress affects your physical stress response! This is exactly what several research papers show, such as the research by Alia Crum, a psychologist at Stanford University. In one of her experiments, she randomly divided the study participants into two groups. Both groups saw a video. One of them suggested that stress was debilitating. The other, that stress strengthens. The following stress test showed clear differences. The physiological stress reaction of the participants in the first group was much more moderate and shorter. The heartbeat calmed down faster and the veins didn't narrow that much either.

Use these mindset effects as a coping strategy. Don't ask yourself what you can do to avoid stress. Try to see stress as a helpful activation of resources - so you can positively influence its effects on your health. I have one for this great video Found by American health psychologist Kelly McGonnigal, in which she explains how you can make stress your friend.

Thought trap 4: "Only weak people take care of their stress."

Would you agree, at least in part, with this statement? Or do you know people who would answer this question in the affirmative?
Unfortunately, I have the impression that many would do that. Stress is still seen by many - completely wrongly - as a sign of weakness. For whom it does not seem to fit together on the one hand to take on the role of a valued, successful, high-performing and ambitious person and on the other hand to admit that the feeling of stress does not stop at them. Which in itself is absolutely not tragic.

This stress immunity, assumed by many, is problematic mainly because of the behavioral consequences that result from it. Or in this case, better said, which do NOT arise.

Because if you think stress can't harm you and it will go away on its own sooner or later anyway, you won't care about it either. And unfortunately I have to disappoint you: Nothing goes by on its own. Except time. Your stress, on the other hand, is more likely to get worse if you don't do anything about it. One of the reasons for this is your stress hormones. Because they make your blood pressure soar. If they are released permanently, your body can no longer come to rest at all; the risk of having a stroke or heart attack is significantly increased. The more you have a negative stress mindset, the more so (see thought trap 3).

So let's rephrase the statement "Only weak people take care of their stress" as follows: "Stress is a warning signal from my body that I should take seriously".

How do I know if I am having too much stress?

In order to have less stress, you have to perceive it in the first step. Are you wondering how you can recognize stress, especially “too much”? Then I have here exactly the right article for you. In it, I described how you notice that your stress level is too high. So that it doesn't just stop at recognizing your stress level, in the next step you should quickly make sure that "feeling stressed" is not your permanent state of mind. Give your body a chance to recover. In this article I have put together a lot of recommendations and suggestions with 100% relaxation guarantee for you - there will certainly be something for you.

Thinking trap 5: "Every annoying event equals stress."

How often do you use or hear the word "stress" or any derivatives from this family of words such as "stressful", "stressful", "stressful"? I'm almost sure that this will happen one or the other time ;-).
Why is that? The answer to the question is with your definition of stress linked: Depending on what you understand by stress, you will declare more or less many situations, constellations and circumstances as stressful.

I would therefore like to introduce you to a definition of stress by Kelly McGonigal. And then explain to you why I highly recommend their definition and the view behind them. She sees stress as something that arises when something close to your heart is in danger. And not already if you have a busy schedule or something in your daily routine doesn't go according to plan. So Kelly McGonigal has a tighter, more restrictive idea of ​​what you should actually call stress.

You may now be wondering whether it makes a difference to you and your experience of stress what you understand by stress? I tell you: Oh yes, something like that!

Let me explain this to you briefly and illustrate it with a personal example. If you tend to perceive any deviations and unpredictability as stress, you will be convinced fairly easily and quickly that you are constantly stressed. (Because there are tons of them - that's normal everyday madness ;-).)

Not all stress is the same!

In the spring of 2016, my husband was hospitalized with a suspected heart attack. So, according to McGonigal's definition, clearly stress. I can definitely confirm that. It looks different with another incident. When I was in Regensburg to hold a seminar, my car gave up the ghost. It simply went on strike and didn't move a meter - 300 kilometers away from my hometown.

What happened then? I needed a rental car and my car was taken to the nearest garage. Shortly afterwards it was clear: engine failure. Nothing left to do, the car is definitely over. Was that stress for me? Before, I would have said: "Yes."
Today I disagree. Why? I already liked my car. Nevertheless, it was nothing more than an object of daily use for me. Nothing that cannot be replaced. I was in no danger myself.
This means: The story about the car was very annoying and annoying ... but it's not stressful. Because of this distinction, it was very easy for me not to go to the ceiling in the next step.

What I mean to say to you: If you do not make a mental differentiation, your emotions, feelings and then also the reactions with which you encounter these situations will not differ. You see stress everywhere and you get your stress system working yourself. Just let it stay.

Instead of assuming it "Every annoying event can be equated with stress" ask yourself in the future in seemingly "stressful" situations: "Is that real stress or is it just annoying"?

The route is the goal

They were - very common stress thought traps that hopefully you won't find yourself falling into any more. And now it's your turn: If you find yourself in the future in stressful situations with one or the other of the above dysfunctional considerations, try to pause and replace them with the transformed trains of thought!

I can reassure you at this point: It is normal that this will be difficult for you at the beginning. Most likely, your stress associations have been stubbornly lingering in your head for a while ;-). That's why it's important that you stick with it and don't get discouraged right away. Fruitful changes take time and cannot be set at the push of a button. I am really excited about your experiences with transformed trains of thought!

Let me know in a comment which stress myth you sit on every now and then. And how you can actually implement my suggestions, whether you really experience less stress as a result. And of course, whether I can still support you in any way. In the course of time I will definitely give you many more ideas with which you can prevent the stress or declare war on it - be curious :-).


PS: Sharing is caring: If you liked the article and it helped, share it now with your loved ones and with all people who the knowledge can also help. Thank-you!

As a coach and trainer, Ulrike Bossmann has been helping people like you to go through life more relaxed, relaxed and with more joy for many years. On her blog on soulsweet.de you will get specific tips on coping with stress and building your resilience, but also practical suggestions on how you can use the findings of positive psychology to be more content and happier in your life.
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