At first glance the title of this blog post may seem rather strange. How can stress be a myth? Stress is very real, as everyone can attest to. The effects of stress, including anxiety and physical health issues, are also evident to many. It is our understanding about stress, however, that has created a myth. Allow me to explain.
Stress has often been understood as a person's reaction to factors in life that are deemed stressful. The mental health field has long considered this to be the case as well. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, an inventory that rates stressors (be they considered bad, such as the death of a loved one, or good, such as marriage), is one such example. The stressors are assigned a number according to their severity and the higher the number the more stressed a person is. The problem with this idea of stress is that it adheres to an idea of stress that is close to the truth but still misses the mark in a slight but very important way.
Others have described a more accurate way of viewing stress, that something is as stressful as we view the stressor to be. Lets bring our attention back to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory. The inventory has stressors on it including buying a house and divorce. But is everyone who buys a house equally stressed? How about those going through a divorce? One can see that these events, along with others, are as stressful as they are seen by individuals to be. Once we begin viewing stress as created by the way we view things, we then have the ability to empower ourselves, rather than be at the mercy of uncontrollable factors. With this understanding of stress, we can now put into place appropriate treatments for those who are struggling with the effects of stress.
Are you overwhelmed with stress? Call us today to begin your path to greater stress reduction!
Brian H Taylor, LMSW