Everyone faces some level of stress in their lives, so it is important to put strategies in place to help you manage it. If you don’t, it can not only impact your emotional wellbeing, but it can lead to a range of physical ailments as well. Don’t wait until it is too late.

Learn to monitor your stress levels throughout your day and practice techniques to bring back that sense of calm. If necessary, set yourself a reminder in your email program to ensure you make time to de-stress.

The following strategies will help you manage stress.

1. Prioritize

Look at all of the different areas of your life including career, partner relationship, family, friends, health, finances, creativity and self care and think about what is most important to you. What are your personal values? What is your definition of success? Make sure you plan time for activities that you find pleasurable and for the things that really matter.

2. Choose to have a positive attitude

Having a positive outlook really makes a difference. Each morning before your feet hit the floor think about three things you’re grateful for.

3. Learn to relax

One of the things that is missing for many people is that little bit of space where we simply stop and do nothing. Practice yoga, tai chi or meditation to help you learn to physically and mentally relax.

4. Do breathing exercises

Taking a few deep breaths is one of the most effective ways to reduce and manage stress.

Here’s a simple breathing exercise. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Breathe deep into the abdomen, taking the breath deep into the belly and allowing the ribs to expand out to the sides and the belly to the front, hold the breath for a moment and breathe out using a loud ‘sigh’ sound. Repeat at least seven times, making each breath slower, longer and quieter.

5. Be healthy

Exercise is one of the key factors to reducing stress as it not only increases your fitness level which provides you with more energy, it is also the best way to flood your system with positive hormones which counteract the impact of the negative stress hormones.

Remember to eat a healthy diet with lots of fresh vegetables, drink at least two liters of water each day and replace coffee and tea with herbal alternatives.

6. Take breaks

Make sure you get away from your desk to eat lunch. It’s also important to schedule a holiday each year and preferably, a couple of mini-breaks such as a long weekend, in between.

7. Find other interests

This is beneficial on many levels as it provides you with ‘you’ time, plus many hobbies also give you the opportunity to express yourself creatively, engaging the right side of the brain.

8. Make contact with people

Make contact with a friend. Reaching out to others helps you gain perspective and changes how you think and feel about your problems, which will definitely help to relieve and manage your stress. Most people don’t need therapists. As long as you can talk openly and honestly and have someone really listen to you, you can reap similar benefits by talking with a trusted friend.

9. Set boundaries

Learn to say ‘no.’ Be clear about your personal boundaries and learn how to say a gentle but firm ‘no’ when people make requests of you that push those boundaries.

10. Don’t take life too seriously

Laughter is one of the most valuable resources to help you reduce and manage stress. See a funny film or a comedy show. Remember to create time to ‘play’ and remind yourself to lighten up and not take life so seriously.

For more from Kate James, Work life balance coach and meditation teacher, visit Flying Solo, Australia’s solo and micro business community.