The Six Myths About Stress


Think you have a firm handle on understanding stress? According to the American Psychological Association, many people have some mistaken ideas about how stress looks, feels, and affects us. Here’s a quick quiz to determine whether you’ve fallen prey to some of these myths. 

Quiz: How Well Do You Understand Stress?

1. If two people are experiencing the same life events (moving, job change, etc) their level of stress will be:
a) Exactly the same
b) Very similar
c) Somewhat different
d) It is impossible to know from the question 

2. For a happy life and a healthy body, you should aim to
a) Eliminate stress completely
b) Reduce stress as much as possible
c) Learn to manage stress
d) None of the above 

3. Stress is everywhere; there is nothing you can do about it.
a) True
b) False 

4. The best way to manage stress is:
a) Therapy and medication
b) Yoga and meditation
c) Exercise and social support
d) You have to create your own system from the available choices 

5. If you don’t have any symptoms of stress
a) They might be camouflaged by medication
b) You might not be getting the signals you need to reduce the strain on your mind and body
c) Congratulations, you are stress free!
d) Both a and b 

6. The symptoms of stress that you should worry about include:
a) Major things like high blood pressure and ulcers
b) Minor issues like stomach acid or headaches
c) All of the above
d) This depends on your situation 


1. Myth: Everyone experiences stress the same way.

The correct answer is “d) it is impossible to know from the question.” Our reactions to stress are completely individual. Events that might be stressful for one person might have no effect on another, and each person responds to stress differently. 

2. Myth: Stress is bad; there is no such thing as “good stress.”

The correct answer is “c) Learn to manage stress.” Stress is not always bad for you. Without stress, our lives would be dull and meaningless. The key is to learn to manage stress so it doesn’t have a negative impact on your outlook or your health. According to the APA, “Managed stress makes us productive and happy; mismanaged stress hurts and even kills us.”

3. Myth: You can’t do anything about stress.

If you answered “b) False” you are right. You can exercise some control over the stress in your life with effective planning. For instance, when you’re dealing with multiple problems, prioritize carefully, solve the simplest problems first, and save the more complex issues for later. This approach can help keep you from feeling like you’re drowning in problems by keep things in perspective and putting you in control. 

4. Myth: The most popular techniques for reducing stress are the best ones.

It would be great if stress management was simple, but the correct choice is “d) You have to create your own system from the available choices.” Each individual needs stress management tools that fit into his life, meets his goals, and works with his personality. “Only a comprehensive program tailored to the individual works,” according to the APA.

5. Myth: No symptoms? No stress. 

“d) Both a and b” is the right answer. Lack of symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you are without stress. When symptoms are suppressed, such as by medication, you can be lullled into thinking that everything is fine. But you might be suffering on a psychological or physiological level.

6. Myth: Only major symptoms of stress require attention. 

The APA says you should be watching for minor symptoms like headaches or stomach acid as well as major symptoms, so “c) All of the above” is the correct choice. Minor symptoms give you early warning signs that you need to find better ways to manage stress.

Managing stress is an ongoing and individual process. While your life will never be completely stress-free, you can learn to manage the impact that stress has on you by managing your problems effectively and learning to remain calm in the face of stressful events. A therapist can help you create a stress-management plan that is tailored to your lifestyle, personality and needs. 

The APA adapted their “Six Myths About Stress” from The Stress Solution by Lyle H. Miller, PhD, and Alma Dell Smith, PhD.