This title may sound like an exaggeration, but stress directly leads to millions of cases of severe physical illness all over the world every year.

Why is that?

We know that stress isn’t a supernatural occurrence that only affects a few people; in fact, I’m sure you’ve experienced some level of stress this week alone.  Believe it or not, stress can be a good thing! It’s simply our body’s reaction to excessive demands or pressure.

You may be wondering how I can possibly justify saying that stress is a ‘good thing’ if it’s in response to such negative conditions, but that’s precisely why stress is such a great thing; it’s our body’s early warning system.  You can’t reasonably expect to go through life without receiving any excessive demands from your boss, your friends, partners, or even yourself.  Feeling “Stressed out” is just that, a state of mind or feeling.  Understanding that gives us power over it. Feelings only have as much power as we choose to give them.

So, when we start feeling stressed, how can we best acknowledge and overcome the feeling of helplessness and panic?

We simply must remember to take our time and think!

Push past the unhelpful emotional state of panic, and break things down by asking yourself, “What’ causing my stress right now?” The answer may be simple: e.g. “I have a deadline to meet.” It might be more complex if you’re dealing with a couple of things that are causing you stress. Such as: “I have a deadline, bills to pay, and I’m arguing with my partner.”

Regardless, start by completing the easiest and quickest task; pay the bill. Already you’ve managed some of your stress by using logic to deal with one of the pressures facing you at that moment. Once you’ve begun to ‘break stress down’ into smaller, more manageable chunks, you’ll start to feel more productive with your day.

However, the key to truly managing stress it to identify things that might be stressful for you before they occur. Breaking down large tasks into small, easily accomplishable things that you can realistically achieve every day will get you as close as you can to stress-free living.

Until that happens though, next time you start feeling stressed, instead of giving in to emotions and letting yourself be overwhelmed just remember that stress is just a feeling, and feelings can’t hurt us if we choose not to let them!