The nine biggest stress myths
True or False? Stress myths busted.
“I’m totally stressed!” is a phrase I hear often. And: “There wasn’t this hustle and bustle before!” True or false? There are many misconceptions about the topic of “stress” – you can read the nine biggest misconceptions here!
A modern phenomenon?
The pulse quickens, blood pressure rises, muscles tense. When we are stressed, our body releases large amounts of the hormone’s adrenaline and cortisol – everything is geared towards attack or flight: an ancient survival mechanism. Even though we no longer have to save ourselves from the sabre-toothed tiger, the physical reaction to stress is the same as that of Stone Age people. The topic of “stress” is not an invention of the 20th century.
Stress levels increase
“Stress” enjoys a permanent presence in the media. In fact, ergonomics scientists are finding that stress levels are increasing, even though working conditions are constantly being improved (e.g. through more ergonomic workplaces, more flexibility in terms of time and space). But for some, greater freedom tends to be overwhelming. Other problems can include fear of losing a job, the required flexibility and constant availability thanks to mobile media.
Stress makes you slim
“When I’m stressed, I’m so energized that I can’t even eat and lose weight,” is what you often hear. Basically, stress has the opposite effect: the hormone cortisol changes metabolism and leads to increased fat storage, especially in the stomach and waist area, where it is particularly harmful to health. Those who suffer from high levels of stress also often eat an unbalanced diet – this can also make the figure more rounded.
Stress is always harmful
Stress makes you fit for challenges. It causes people to be wide awake and responsive. In the event of an accident, it can also increase the chances of survival: the circulation does not collapse and the blood’s ability to clot is improved. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is harmful: high blood pressure, diabetes, tinnitus or depression are possible consequences. The problem: If stress is not followed by relaxation, adrenaline and cortisol continually circulate in the blood.
Men and women react the same way
In principle, women and men react physically to stress in the same way – but the consequences can be different. While stress leads to cardiovascular problems more often in men, it makes women more susceptible to mental illnesses. This could be because they are generally more worried about their health, according to a study from the University of Michigan.
Old people get stressed more quickly
In older people, stress has physical consequences more quickly because they are less resilient. Nevertheless, the number of mental illnesses caused by stress has increased most sharply in the group of 20- to 35-year-olds in recent years and has the highest proportion among 40- to 44-year-olds.
A lot of work as a cause
It is true that stress often arises in the work environment. But workload itself is not the deciding factor, as scientists at the University of Helsinki found. Rather, negative relationships and emotions in the workplace are often the real culprits. Those who have little control over their actions, receive too little recognition, do not earn enough or have little chance of advancement are also stressed.
Only relaxation helps
If you have a lot of stress, you often can’t calm down and therefore can’t relax. This is because high cortisol levels also make you fidgety and trigger aggression. They cannot simply be meditated away. In this case, exercise helps – a walk around the block or light cardio exercise. In addition, if you constantly ruminate while doing nothing, you keep your stress level at a constant level. Distraction is better, for example in the form of games or conversations.
Life crises are particularly stressful
A serious accident, separation from a long-term partner, a death in the immediate family – the stress that such strokes of fate cause is usually limited in time. Everyday stress – the so-called “daily hassles” – is much more harmful to health. They can last for many years and are more likely to trigger chronic stress. One way to compensate: “daily uplifts”, the short-term concentration on pleasant and relieving events.
Even here in the UAE stress levels are reportedly on the rise. Nowhere and nobody seems immune. Great pressures and more competition at work, regional and economic tensions, increase financial burdens and spirally costs, and of course increased traffic. Stress can put extra pressure on the heart and may lead to cardiovascular issues over time but there are steps people can take. To mitigate its impact on their health and well-being. One powerful strategy is incorporating regular exercise into your routine. Physical activity is a proven stress-buster, releasing endorphins that act as natural mood lifters. Engaging in activities like brisk walking, jogging, or yoga not only helps in managing stress but also contributes to overall cardiovascular health.
Additionally, prioritizing well-being practices can significantly alleviate stress. Incorporating mindfulness techniques such as meditation and deep breathing exercises can foster a sense of calm and improve mental resilience. Adequate sleep is another vital component, as it allows the body to recover and better cope with daily stressors.
All HanseMerkur health insurance plans are available with TELUS, our Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) through which employers can play a crucial role in supporting their workforce. These programs offer confidential counselling and resources to employees dealing with stress, providing a valuable outlet for addressing personal and professional challenges. Encouraging employees to utilize EAP services can foster a healthier and more productive work environment.
Incorporating stress-busting techniques into daily life, coupled with regular exercise and well-being practices, creates a holistic approach to managing stress. By proactively addressing stressors, individuals can reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues and promote overall heart health. Taking these steps not only benefits individuals on a personal level but also contributes to a resilient and thriving community both inside and outside the workplace.