Do You Know That Stress Is Just A Word?

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Read this post to find out the real truth about what stress really is.This week, I will again be revisiting some of my earlier posts in this stress relief blog, because many new subscribers have joined since my inaugural post on September 12, 2011.  This particular post was originally published on September 26, 2011, under a different title (Stress Myth #1: Stress Exists), and it was the first in a series of several related posts on common myths about stress.

I am revisiting this post today, with additional commentary added.  Then, in my next two posts this week, I will go over several important ways we benefit from constantly reminding ourselves that “stress is just a word.”

Stress Myth #1: Stress Exists

by Doc Orman, M.D. on September 26, 2011

Most stress relief experts take two things for granted: 1) stress is something that actually exists, and 2) stress is something human beings commonly suffer from.

I used to believe in these two popular notions about stress.

However, I’ve discovered there are better ways to think about stress, including better ways to think about:

  • What stress is,
  • What causes it to occur, and
  • What our best options are for dealing with it.

[Much of our difficulty dealing with stress today stems from most of us being taught to incorrectly think about all three of these critically important aspects of stress.  If you are going to be successful at mastering stress in your life, you will need to start by understanding what is wrong with prevailing ideas about each of these three areas.]

What Is Stress…Really?

If you ask people to tell you what they believe stress is, they will usually give you answers like:

  • being mentally or physically overwhelmed by external pressures and demands;
  • not being able to sleep well or concentrate during the day;
  • feeling anxious, angry, frustrated or depressed;
  • having physical symptoms, such as muscle aches, headaches, indigestion, or rapid heart beats;
  • And some will say stress is the inappropriate activation of the body’s “flight or fight response,” which results in excessive stress hormones being released into the bloodstream.

Thus, there are many different definitions of stress, all of which have merit.

However, none of these definitions get to the heart of what stress really is. None of them adequately captures its essence. As it turns out, the truth about what stress really is differs greatly from what you’ve been taught to believe.

The real truth about stress is this….“stress” is just a word.

That’s right. Stress is not some “thing” or “condition” that actually exists.

The only place stress exists is in human language. It’s just a word—an abstract concept—that was invented [by Dr. Hans Selye] many years ago to stand for other things in life that really do exist and that really do bother us from time to time.

[Please understand I am not trying to say that any stress you experience in your life is a figment of your imagination.  I am not trying to deny the existence of whatever you call stress.  All I am pointing out is that whenever you say you are suffering from “stress,” you are not.  Not really.  You are actually suffering from something else, and that something else is very real…and it clearly does exist. We just need to stop using the word “stress” to refer to it, for good reasons that I will discuss in my next two posts.]

While this undeniable truth about stress may seem trivial, or even silly to you at first glance, I assure you it has profound implications. It is the first thing you need to understand…the first myth you need to free yourself from…in order to develop true stress mastery.

[I will explore some of these implications in the next two posts I revisit this week. If you want to learn more about this and other widespread mistaken notions about stress, either sign up to download the free report at the end of this post, or if you are reluctant to submit your email, you can download my free 30-page PDF Common Myths About Stress by clicking the hyperlinked title, as no email is required to immediately access and download this PDF file.]

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