Stress is a natural part of life. We need some stress to maintain our energy for living. But we must find a balance and manage our stress or it will manage us and our lives. Stress is a very personal experience for each one of us because it is based on our personal perceptions. It is our body's physical and psychological response to anything we perceive as overwhelming.

We do not all respond to stress in the same way. How you perceive a situation determines if it is or is not stressful. For example, two people lose their jobs. One sees it as the end of the world while the other is thrilled to now have the opportunity to start their own business. Or maybe two co-workers are given the same deadline for an assignment. One sees this as enormous pressure while the other person sees it as needed motivation. What one person sees as a catastrophic event may be a minor setback for someone else.

We can't always control what happens but we can learn to control our reactions and responses to what happens. Always remember that you have choices. Stressed out people tend to forget this simple fact. When things seem impossible and you are getting stressed, remind yourself that you have a choice. You can do things differently or if something doesn't get done at the exact minute you think it should, the world will not fall apart. Keep it in perspective.

Having a positive attitude can go a long way in managing stress. You can choose how you will react. Learn to let things that normally stress you just roll off like water on glass. React properly and your day will not be ruined. React with stress and a wrong reaction may result in losing a friend, having an accident, getting fired, etc.

If you are dealing with a big problem, break it down into smaller parts so it doesn't seem so overwhelming. Take it one step at a time. When life seems too complicated, make a list of your priorities in the order of their importance. What must absolutely get done? Learn to delegate.

Visualize the stressful situation and how you can better handle it. These little rehearsals boost your self confidence and can help you handle situations in a positive way.

Remember that other people won't always measure up to your expectations. Don't be disappointed or frustrated when this happens. We all have our virtues and our shortcomings, so try to stay flexible.

Listen to your body. It will definitely let you know when it is feeling stressed. Is there a churning in your stomach, a tight knot in your neck, a migraine headache or an ache in your back that you are just ignoring? Medical research estimates as much as 90% of illness and disease is stress related. And most health professionals agree that stress can be a contributing factor in making existing medical problems worse.

Listen to your inner voice. It can be very helpful to just take a few moments and close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and notice how your body feels. And ten to twenty minutes of quiet meditation can restore calm and put your problems in the proper perspective.

Put a few drops of lavender (or your favorite) essential oil on a tissue and carry it with you. At the first sign of stress, take a whiff of the aroma and it will calm you immediately.

Remember, we all must have some stress in our lives but the key to happiness is to strive for balance. A balanced life consists of work time, family time, relaxation time, hobbies, and exercise. You can make it your step at a time.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Stewart is co-founder and partner of It's My Nature, an Aromatherapy business based in Florence, Oregon. Providing dried herbs, essential oils and many comfort and stress reducing products. Catering to the beginner with small sizes, recipes and an informative monthly newsletter. See It's My Nature's large, informative website at or a free catalog is available by calling 1-888-445-5051.