It’s only in the last 50 years or so that we’ve become aware of the impact of emotional or mental stress on the body–now, of course, we know that high stress levels can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, obesity, and even diabetes.

The most important thing to know about stress is that it doesn’t come from your environment–technically, it comes from your reaction to the environment. This is a very important distinction, because we frequently cannot change our environment, but we can change our perception of it and our reaction to it.

Look at it this way: If you love everything about traveling and I find it incredibly stressful, the travel itself can’t possibly be the actual source of stress.  Or, if I love exercise and you loathe it, it’s not the exercise that is the problem; rather, it’s how we think about it. The most important point to consider is how you view and respond to events: Do you consider them a threat? Do you see them as unbearable, or  something to be tolerated while gritting your teeth? Is your body tense and rigid when faced with a situation?

There are wonderful ways of changing these perceptions, which in turn help us to feel relaxed, capable, and confident. If you’re someone who tends to get very panicked or irritated in traffic, around deadlines, or when otherwise busy, you might do well to seek treatment for stress management–a series of tools designed to help you respond appropriately and calmly to environmental demands, rather than reacting to them.

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