Stress definitely has become a hot topic of late. Everyone talks about stress: "I've been stressed out lately," "I'm really stressed," "I'm under a lot of stress," "All this stress is getting to me." We hear these phrases and many more, all built upon that one six letter word: stress.

But what is stress? According to the dictionary, stress is a force exerted upon a body that tends to strain or deform its shape. It's an actual physical force, usually measured in pounds per square inch. Despite the dictionary definition, the stress we speak of actually is nothing more than a mythical creation, created in our minds by anxiety and fear.

Unlike the real pressure in physics, it is all psychological pressure. There is no stress as scientists know it. You probably are wondering how you could be so misled because you know you are experiencing stress. But experiencing something doesn't necessarily make it so, anymore than false labor can produce a child. What you are experiencing is emotional stress.

Just a Feeling

While phobias prevent us from functioning at all, emotional stress just makes us think what we have to do is unpleasant and uncomfortable. Emotional stress is the fear of failure hovering over us, but all it is, is a feeling. It is not concrete. It is not real. It is imagined, conjured up by our egos or libidos to keep us in line.

There are no little stress-producing machines or stress gremlins that really apply pressure or force upon us, nor is there an emotional gravitational force that adds increased pressure to our bodies when we are stressed.

In physics, stress is real and it can be measured. We can accurately predict what it will do and when it will do it. How tight a circle a plane can fly at 240 mph is an engineering study that can be determined by using stress factors. This stress is a true stress. It is not the pilot's self-centered fear but the actual physical pressure that can and will destroy the plane.

Be Realistic

An easy way to eliminate stress is to face the reality that sometimes you are going to fail. When you accept that you are not always going to succeed in doing what you think should be done, the stress disappears. You won't have stress if you just recognize that you might be late for an appointment or you might not get the job, and that life will go on anyway. Five years from now, you probably won't even remember the situation.

Stress simply does not exist as we speak of it. It's simply in our imaginations, our daytime nightmares.

Stress has replaced the simple statement, "Boy, do I have some problems." I often wonder why we developed such a high tech word for such a basic feeling. Perhaps we wanted to take it out of our control and convert it into something technical or medical that we have no control over. It is not. It is just you feeling sorry for yourself -- "Poor little me." Baloney. Stress is not only controllable, it can be banished. It can be denied. It can be ended and you are the one who can do it. In fact, you do it every time you prevail over your concerns, fears or problems. You conquer your stress by achieving your goals.

Scary Monsters

Simply and directly, the only stress we have in our lives, except when we are building something or engineering or something of that nature, is that which we create for ourselves. Just as we created monsters lurking under the bed or in the closet when we were young, stress is just our grown-up variation of these monsters. It instills fear in us based upon irrational beliefs and lack of confidence in ourselves.

Just as we learned to overcome the monsters, we can learn to banish stress from our lives. Try it. Say, "Stress be gone." If you truly believe, it will be. If you really think that your stress is real, throw open the closet door or look under your bed and dare the monsters to confront you. Dare them to attack you. The more you scrutinize it, the smaller it becomes, until it ultimately disappears as any apparition always will.

It's your choice. You cannot be affected by stress without your own permission to do so. Repeat after me, "Stress be gone." Now, if it's still there, say it again -- this time with feeling. See, it works.