Stress Myth #1: Stress Exists

by Doc Orman, M.D.

(Note: This is the first in a series of posts on common myths about stress.)

Most stress relief experts take two things for granted: 1) stress is something that actually exists, and 2) it 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. 

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 many years ago to stand for many other things in life that really do exist and that really do bother us from time to time.

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 important implications in the next few posts in this series.


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