There are two types of stress, acute and chronic. Acute stress is a response imminent danger and it super charges your system with hormones that can damage the cardiovascular system. Whereas chronic stress is caused by constant emotional pressure you can’t control. It produces hormones that can weaken the immune system and damage bones.

Stress is unavoidable just due to the nature of being alive. But you can definitely eliminate stress and learn effective ways to handle stress so your health doesn’t suffer. That is the real issue. There is a school of thought that believes a large majority of diseases today (cancer, diabetes, depression, ulcers, heart conditions etc.) have stress as a large contributing factor in contracting or worsening conditions.

1) Learn to say NO. So much of our everyday stress comes from what we believe we should do. This is the first step in eliminating stress that could very well be self-induced.

Sit down with a piece of paper and draw 3 columns down it. Column 1 label: I Must Do, Column 2 label: I Should Do and Column 3 label: I Like To Do. Consider a typical week of your life and write down all your activities into one of the three columns.

Those things that absolutely and truthfully are a dire necessity put in column 1. These are those activities that nobody else can possibly do for you.

Those things that you feel compelled to be doing for whatever reason (if I am a good mother I should do _____ ). These are the things that somebody else could do for you (trading favors) or don’t absolutely have to be done at all – really! These go into column 2.

Now column 3 write down those things that you have been attempting to slip in that you just simply would like to be doing for personal pleasure and growth.

Now it is time to start eliminating an item or two (perhaps 3 or 4) in the “Should” column and start scheduling in an item or two from the “Like to” column. You will see amazing results in just following this simple exercise. Granted you probably won’t avoid some of the items in the “Should” column, but the point is to free some time up, lessen the pressure on you and introduce more enjoyment of life (a few simple pleasures to enjoy.)

2) Stop attempting to be perfect. You will have addressed part of this with the preceding exercise for learning to say no. Too many times the listing in the “I Should Do” column are those things that you feel compelled to do for the sake of being considered or viewed as better or perfect in something (a better parent, a better employee, a better neighbor, a better daughter/son, a better friend, a better student, a better brother/sister and so on.) Once you realize what is motivating you to say “I should do this” then it is easier to put more realistic activities in place that meet your time pressures and personal needs while still providing opportunities to be all those things, just differently.

3) Healthy Tools for Handling Stress Effectively. Following are several ways that will absolutely help you to handle the remaining stress easier.

- Exercise. It may seem like adding just one more “Should” into the mix, but in this case this is a “Must Do” activity. Don’t make the mistake that this need be a large time investment either. Fifteen minutes a day for the first two weeks, then fifteen minutes twice a day after that is all it takes!! Make this as simple and enjoyable as possible. Find creative ways to introduce a little more physical activity into your day as well. Walk instead of phone a co-worker, take the stairs every chance you can. Take a moment right now to brain storm some ideas of when you can dedicate fifteen minutes to regular exercise. Now brainstorm on how you can easily introduce more physical activity into your day.
- Nutrition. When we are under time pressures and high stress we eat worse than ever. In reality this is the critical time to eat better. Take a multi-vitamin every day and do what you already know as proper eating habits. Most importantly, pack yourself healthy snacks so you aren’t reaching for junk food. Include some vegetable juice, veggie sticks etc.
- Quality Sleep. Do everything in your power to get quality sleep every night. Set a “bed” time and stick to it every night. Find simple ways to key down and relax for bed whether that is a hot bath/shower, reading for pleasure, some soft music and journaling or something else.
- Meditation. Scientists are finding more and more evidence that regular mediation is very effective against acute stress that plagues thousands of Americans. It is simple as well. Guided meditation CDs abound on the market and classes are usually offered in most cities. Creative visualization is the easiest to learn for most people and provides a healthy “escape” from the pressures of life.
- Massage. It isn’t a luxury anymore but a healthy practice for your mind and body.
- Pets. Research shows that having a pet decreases not only depression, but stress too. Animals are the best listeners and the comfort of their unconditional love eases a multitude of emotional stress.
- Yoga. Science is discovering that breathing exercises decrease blood pressure and lower stress hormone levels. The stretching in yoga promotes better drainage of the lymphatic vessels and overall physical well being and is generally relaxing. It also is an overall gentle exercise that focuses on keeping the spine supple.
- Personal time. In the exercise where you start scheduling those things you would just like to do for personal pleasure and growth. Well just having that personal time is an activity that helps deal with stress. When you are able to just re-connect with yourself and do things that bring you joy (a hobby, reading, writing letters etc.) you have lowered your stress measurably.

There you go, ways to eliminate some stress in your life and also ways to effectively handle the remaining pressures. Granted you won’t be able to restructure your life to begin all these practices, but you can get off to a great start by utilizing a few and over the next year start building in a few more. Remember the biggest lesson of all is that when the pressure builds the thing you absolutely must do is take care of yourself - however that looks. Otherwise you truly crumble from the stress.

Author's Bio: 

Ariel Heart is a Life and Spiritual Coach. She is trained by Coachville, has twenty years corporate and Dept of Defense experience, possesses a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration (Mgmt emphasis) and also a Bachelors of Arts in Sacred Theology. She actively used the principles of "The Secret" long before the movie sensation in her coaching practice.