Numerous studies have shown that stress contributes to many of the most prevalent diseases and conditions. Various ailments such as heart disease, cancer, allergies, digestive problems, ulcers, diabetes, anxiety, depression and other psychological conditions have all been linked to the effects of stress.

What we consider stressful varies from day to day, moment to moment, and person to person. Stress can have a dramatic effect on how our bodies function and how we experience our lives.

Are you stuck in a Stress Response?

When we are repeatedly exposed to prolonged stress, our body’s natural stress responses can become less effective and may even sustain damage. While 94 percent of adults believe that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, only 29 percent say they are doing an excellent or very good job at preventing themselves from succumbing to it.

When we are stressed we are more forgetful and have less mental clarity. We become less decisive as we experience a gradually fading level of concentration. Sleeping difficulty, digestive issues, and weight fluctuations are commonplace as well. In our attempt to balance out the decreasing serotonin and dopamine balance in our brain, we tend to engage in unhealthy habits like drinking more alcohol or coffee, eating poorly, neglecting exercise, etc. These often work as a short term “fix” but do not address the real issue at hand.

Here are some key principles that will help your stress levels:

1. During stress, think positively
Everything that happens is on your way, not in your way. Stress will remain in our lives no matter how we choose to respond to it, so why not see it as a lesson in life and learn from it? Remember my motto, “Pressure Makes Diamonds.”

And you, my friend, are just that – a bright shining diamond!

2. Change your response to stress
Managing stress doesn’t mean eliminating stressors from your life. It means developing positive and effective ways to deal with your stress. Here are some examples:
• Ask yourself: “What can I learn from this stressful event?”
• Exercise (before the stressful event if possible)
• Meditate
• Eat healthy foods. This way your body is more resilient and better equipped to cope with stress.
• Remove yourself from the stressful environment.

3. Learn to breathe consciously
When we are stressed we enter a state of “fight or flight” which causes us to breathe faster and shallower. When stressed, breath deeply into your stomach (diaphragmatic breathing) and your tension will start to drop immediately. Try it out, it works.

4. Fail to plan – Plan to fail
Protect your time by ATTACKING YOUR HIGHEST PRIORITIES FIRST. That way, if you get stressed at the end of the day, you have at least dedicated your time towards the most important action(s) you could do that day. By being effective in doing so, you have fewer reasons to be stressed, right?

5. Have an attitude of gratitude
When we are feeling stressed, fearful or angry, we tend to compare our lives to those around us while saying and thinking things like, ”Oh I wish I had his/her life, they have it so easy”. A powerful tool to minimise stress and its effects on our health is to remember how blessed we truly are. I call this exercise “Count Your Blessings.”

I can promise you that every time you suffer, every time you feel pain, every time you find yourself stinkingly thinking, there is always someone else worse off than you. Understanding this fact allows you to stop focusing on your challenges (which are blessings in disguise) and start focusing on your blessings. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to write down 100 (and no less) blessings in your life. After reading over your blessings, you might come to see how blessed you truly are…