Stress gets us all at some point in our lives. Sometimes it gets really hard to keep everything together; work, school or relationships. While some stress can be beneficial at times, keeps us focused and motivated, providing drive and energy to help us get through the deadlines or exams, an extreme amount of stress can have health consequences, affecting our cardiovascular and central nervous systems.

There are many things you can do to minimize and cope with stress.  Here are 15 ideas to keep stress under control and feel better.

1. Get organised

Make a list of the important things you need to handle each day. Try to follow the list so you feel organised and on top of things.  For example, prepare for the morning the night before, set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier etc.

2. Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly will help regulate your sleep, rec your body’s production of feel-good endorphins, boost your energy, and help you remain calmer and more focused. It will help you to relax and contemplate, and just as importantly, make you more fit.  Set bite size goals and reward yourself when you achieve them.

 3. Do what you love

Make time for music, art or other hobbies that help relax and distract you. Whether it’s walking the dog to the park every morning, or  taking a bath before bed, in times of stress doing what you love helps a lot.

4. Eliminate the ‘bad’

Avoid drowning your stress in a bottle of wine or a pack of cigarettes. Drugs, drinking, smoking or too much caffeine only sets you up to stress out more. These habits tend to increase the negative impacts stress is already having on your body and you feel and become more stressed out than before.

5. Meditate

Meditation helps the mind and body to relax and focus.  Use visualization to help you learn to manage your thoughts. Sit quietly with your eyes closed, imagining the sights, sounds and smells of your favorite place, such as a favourite beach or mountain retreat.

6. Get enough sleep

Get the right amount of sleep. For most people, this is seven to nine hours a night.

7. Ask for help

Talk to your family and friends. Socialize and relax.

8. Avoid difficult people

Think about those people who make your life more difficult and just cut them out of your life.

9. Relax throughout the day

Take mini-breaks during your work day. Get up and stretch, walk around, drink some water, go outside and have a walk, talk to someone you like.

10. Smile more

 Our brains are interconnected with our emotions and facial expressions. When people are stressed, they often hold a lot of the stress in their face. So laughs or smiles can help relieve some of that tension and improve the situation.

11. Believe in yourself

Remember — we do have control over the stress and choices we make in our lives. It sometimes takes a little practice and effort to put some of these techniques into play in your life. But once you do so, you may be pleasantly surprised at the positive benefits you’ll receive.