Everyone has stressful elements in their life, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with them

The signs of stress aren't always obvious, but the effects of it can manifest in your day to day life or on your physique. Hair loss, heart attacks, depression, cancer and other chronic illnesses can all be stress related.

The good news is that we don’t have to tolerate stress. We’re responsible for allowing stress to enter our lives, and if we can let it in, then we have the power to let it back out by taking small steps and changing our habits. Implementing minute lifestyle changes can create fundamental and powerful shifts to help cope with stress.

This is a photo of a young woman taking a deep breath outside

1. Breathe

This may seem obvious, but breathing correctly is something most of us fail to do. The subconscious mind controls our breathing patterns, so for the best part we are unaware of whether we’re doing it correctly or not. Most people have shallow breaths from their chest, whereas using your belly and taking deeper breaths will help to relax you.

One way to do this is by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath. If your belly rises, you’re breathing properly. If your chest rises, try practising until you’re using your belly. The benefits of breathing properly are profound and also a great tool to increase concentration.

2. Rest

Stress can cause sleepless nights full of worry, and without adequate rest your health can spiral radically downwards. Feeling constantly tired due to a lack of quality sleep can have a major impact in other areas of your life. Use breathing exercises to help relax you before going to bed and sleep for as long as your body needs. Reduce the time you spend watching TV in the evenings and get to bed earlier - in order to perform well, your physical and mental wellbeing must be in sync and totally recharged.

3. Meditation

Mediation relaxes the mind, body and brings you into the present moment. If you're spiritually minded, it teaches you that the soul and body are two separate entities. The body will perish one day, but the soul is eternal. If you're not spiritually inclined, meditation is still a superb method to lowering stress, increasing relaxation and inducing calmness.

Meditation also increases your awareness and teaches you to live as your genuine, true self instead of how you think everyone else wants you to. During meditation, you’ll visualise and receive many messages that can act as your guide. When you become proficient enough, you’ll be able to analyse these messages, allowing you to decipher the useful from the useless in your life.

This is a close-up photo of a woman's running shoes as she hikes a rocky trail

4. Exercise

The body needs daily exercise, so whether you go for a brisk walk, practice yoga or do jumping jacks, you’ll feel energised, invigorated and will release endorphins. Your body is the vehicle you’ll use for the rest of your life, so it makes sense to treat it well and to keep it in shape.

5. Positive thinking

Things don’t always go to plan in life, so don't worry you’re not alone in that respect, but how you handle a setback can set you apart. Have a positive attitude. Self-castigating only compounds stress. Unfortunately, we all encounter people who speak down to us or mistreat us in our lives. Does it make sense to do it to yourself as well?

As you learn to control your breathing and practice meditation, you’ll recognise the negative thought patterns you’re having. When you do recognise them, eliminate them and replace them with empowering words and images of encouragement.

The only thing stopping us from improving the quality of our lives is our own limiting belief that we can’t do it. Be courageous and see how great you’ll begin to feel.

Try the tips above and see how just a few small tweaks to your daily routine can improve your life. Speaking to a life coach can help you work further on reducing the stress in your life and achieving your personal goals.

Discover more about stress and how it can affect you on Life Coach Directory or use the search box below to find an experienced stress counsellor near you.