Stress is a normal reaction to life. In fact, we all need a certain amount of stress to be healthy. What is not healthy for us is the small day in, day out stresses that accumulate over time. These cause our body to deplete the stores of vital chemicals and energy necessary for health. Stress does kill; stress does shorten life. Remember, the stress is your own and no one else’s.

Some Thoughts about Stress and Your Life

1. Quit controlling. Let’s face facts. You can’t even control your own bladder for one day, and yet you expect yourself to control everything that’s around you? Get real. Control only what you can, and let the rest handle itself. Keep the big things big and the small things small, and let me give you a hint: it’s all small. Life is not a five-alarm fire.

2. Worry? Worry is based on fear! Fear of loss and even fear of gain. Worry is about people or things we care about. Here are the facts: 80 percent of what you worry about will never come to pass. The 10 percent that does happen will never be as bad as you thought it would be. The last 10 percent will be bad, painful, and irritating. But the truth about the last 10 percent is that you probably will not remember it accurately in ten years. So any time you have worries, remember the 80-10-10 rule.

And especially remember this: the brightest future in your life will always be based on a forgotten past. You cannot go forward until you let go of the past. Practice living in the now.

3. Passion and goals. Have you ever noticed that a person with passion for goals or a dream that he has committed himself to doesn’t seem to worry as much? It’s true. Find out what your passion in life is and focus on that, rather than on the millions of negative things that happen. Focus on your goals and what you love. When you’re busy working toward your goals, you’re generally too busy to worry or stress.

4. Present time consciousness. Present time consciousness means living right now in the moment, in the zone. The past is gone; leave it where it is. The future is guaranteed to no one. Plan for the future, but keep your body and mind in the same place at the same time—it’s all that you have. If you find your mind wandering, as it will, ask yourself the following questions: What’s next? What’s important? What’s not? Will this matter in five years?

5. Fifty thousand thoughts a day. That’s what the average person’s brain thinks every day. Most of these thoughts are negative. Typically, they’re about fears, losses, or weakness and low self-esteem. Some remember the great boxer Mohammed Ali saying frequently that he was “the greatest,” and he was because that is what he told himself many times a day. What are you telling yourself about you? We become what we think about. Self-esteem and self-image are all-important and not what others think. Put reminders around your home and office of the past successes you’ve enjoyed. When you find yourself busy thinking negatively, focus on these reminders, and know that nothing in our lives stays the same and that everything changes.

6. Get organized. We come to our lives naked, with nothing, and we will leave that way. Are you a pack rat? A collector junky? If you are, you are slowing down your life by carrying too much. Every year, note on your calendar a day for cleaning out and getting organized. The rule is very simple: if you haven’t used it in a year, donate it or throw it out. Lighten your load in life. Never let your possessions possess you. After all, you’re not taking it with you.

7. Avoid toxic people, places, or things. There are people, places, and things that emotionally drain our energy. We call them energy vampires—they suck your good energy away from you. You must divorce yourself from anyone or anything that sucks the good and positive from you. Let’s face facts: you only have 90–150 years to live. Choose wisely how and who you’ll spend your energy and time with.

How do you know you’ve come up against a toxic person or place? Simply ask yourself how you feel after your exposure to these people or places. Typically, when you feel confused, depressed, low in energy, or physically ill, you have exposed yourself to a toxic situation. The best advice is to avoid or minimalize your exposure, and at all costs, do not try to change the toxic person or place, or you’ll find it’s a waste of time. Hot stoves are always hot; toxic things are always toxic.

8. Rest, dream, and awaken charged. Sleeping allows our bodies to heal and our brains to relax and refocus. You must guard your sleep as if your life depended on it, for it does. We need six to eight hours of sleep every night to cope with the world. Never let anyone or anything keep you from a good night’s rest. It’s critical for stress management.

9. Exercise. Research has shown that exercising over a period of time creates a wide variety of brain chemicals that inhibit the day’s stress effects. Rigorous exercise twenty to thirty minutes a day is necessary to allow these brain chemicals to function correctly. Rowing or vigorous walking are key exercises that you should do every day.

One of the best overall exercises everyone should do twice a week is called the slow burn exercise. These exercises are done with free weights or machines, and your muscles are taxed with heavy weights, lifted very slowly with minimal repetition to maximize muscle metabolism, creating better stress-fighting chemicals in your brain.

10. Work. Your work is not your life! If you identify your work as who you are, you are dead already. Our lives are complex; they’re supposed to be. We’re here to learn, grow, help others, and prosper. Ask yourself this question: who am I without my job, title, possessions, family, or friends? Asking this question often will keep your life and mind in perspective. You are here for a purpose. Finding that purpose is a key to your happiness.

Stress in our lives is actually necessary to be healthy. There is no such thing as a stress-free life. We all have ups and downs. Those who are the happiest are those who put into proper perspective life’s turns and twists. Begin your life this minute, this second, to settle for nothing less than your very best in all you do. Follow your heart, your passion, and above all, don’t stress about it. And finally, remember that while death is certain, time is not! What is important to you?

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Randall J. Hammett, DC, is a practicing chiropractor in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with over twenty-six years’ experience. He has lectured widely across the United States to other chiropractors on the topics of risk management, practice management, and stress management. He has written for the prestigious Journal of Clinical Chiropractic since 1987. His focus of practice is disease prevention and posture correction. His e-mail is