Stress JPEGMyth 1.   Stress is bad for you

Too much stress is certainly bad for you. Stress is what happens when the demands on you exceed your resources to deal with them. You feel overwhelmed, overly anxious, uncertain and upset. Being overstressed like this reduces your ability to perform at your peak and be the loving person you wish to be at home.

Too much stress isn’t only emotionally debilitating, it’s also bad for your health. Prolonged overstress can weaken your immune system and cause high blood pressure, fatigue, depression and heart disease.

But here’s the thing. Not all stress is bad for you. In fact, you need some level of stress. A minimal level of stress is needed to deal with challenge and makes you feel excited and engaged. For example, a minimum level of stress before an important examination motivates you to work hard and achieve your goals.

The solution:

Let’s rather differentiate between “overstress” which is bad for you, and “stimulation”. Stimulation or a minimal level of stress is good for you, because it generates energy and the emotional capacity to perform at your best at work and at home. A major difference between the two is how you think about your  experience of stress (more here).

Myth 2.   You need better coping skills to deal with stress

We all have deep-rooted anxieties about relationships, money, performance, health and our future, which have the potential to produce anxiety and overstress.

We have become obsessed with learning new stress management techniques. Exercise, nutrition, hydration and sleep are indeed important and are often touted as panaceas to the experience of overstress. This is unfortunate as they may mask the need address the causes of overstress.

In fact, successful stress management techniques may temporarily reduce the impact of overstress to the point that you may delay dealing with uncomfortable or difficult problems. It’s like putting a putting a Band Aid on a septic wound. The overstress comes back later.

The solution:

We need to deal with the underlying issues in our lives in order to reduce the associated anxiety and overstress.

Myth 3.   Time out in front of the TV or alcohol helps you de-stress

Most of us spend time in front of the TV spaced out, with a drink in our hand to de-stress at the end of a tough day. If that’s you, unfortunately here is the bad news:

·         Spending time in front of the TV may feel like a good way to decompress, but it’s actually a bad way to unwind. Brain scans have shown that your mind is actually stimulated and that stimulation continues when you eventually get to bed.

·         Alcohol is also not an effective stress reliever. The depressant effect of alcohol initially helps de-activate your body and mind, but long-term alters the brain’s chemistry to experience high levels of anxiety in response to stress compared to someone who never drank or only drinks alcohol moderately.

The solution:

Reflect on a time when you got through a period of being overstressed. Identify how you got you thorough it. Use these elements of your natural resilience to deal with your present overstress.

Myth 4.   Talking to your best friend will help you de-stress

Talking through troubling events with someone who loves you is enormously comforting. It’s however difficult if your partner has different ways of decompressing to you. People who are more introverted, often prefer to deal with a difficult day by reflecting and working through it on their own. On the other hand, people who are more extroverted, often prefer to talk through what has happened and discuss other people’s thoughts on it.

These differences can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings, and if unresolved, can result in feeling alienated and trapped in an unloved relationship.

The solution:

If you and your partner have different preferences in the way you deal with your stress, it’s important to negotiate strategies that work for both of you (more here).

The more introverted person for example, might take the dogs for a walk on their own, giving them time to think through their difficult day, and only engage with their partner on their return.

The more extraverted partner, on the other hand, might delay talking about their stressful day to their more introverted partner until after supper.

Myth 5.   Overstressed women need to resolve their work-family conflicts

Over the past 30 years, women have increasingly been encouraged to enter the workforce. The jobs they fill however are still designed as they have been in the past, for men with wives looking after children at home. So it’s no wonder that the work-life debate is often keenly felt by women and sometimes even referred to as a “woman’s issue”.

The solution:

It’s a job design issue and a societal attitude issue, in which caregiving is underpaid and undervalued. Until these issues are addressed, women will be conveniently scapegoated as being typically overstressed when having problems with work-life balance. (more here)


These five myths play a deep-seated role in our lives, woven tightly into the fabric of our thinking and our society. With our present focus on managing or eliminating overstress, we miss the opportunity to build our internal coping capability and resilience to live our lives full of stimulation. Overstress is the enemy, but stimulation is great. What can you do you reduce your overstress and increase your stimulation?

Resilient Leadership WorkshopResilient Leadership Workshop
Leaders learn how to keep stress positive. They assess their Team Members strategy-fitness and learn three resilience coaching techniques. The outcome is the leaders are better able to deliver organisational strategy and coach their team members when their resilience lags (read more here).

Building Resilience workshop

Building Resilience Workshop

Team members and specialists learn how to bounce back from difficult organisation and life events, such as significant change, setbacks and hardship. The outcome is they are able to resist stressful experiences impacting on their job productivity and stay calm and healthy (read more here).

Mental Strength training

Mental Strength Training

Mental Strength training helps people keep task-focused and persistent. Mental Strength training teaches the process and tools to remain composed under pressure and less vulnerable to emotional slumps at work and at home (read more here).

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