Did you know that there is both healthy and unhealthy stress? Some stress is good for us. A job gets us up and moving in the morning. A driving test means that we need to know the rules of the road, and the basics of driving. New responsibilities mean that we are still striving rather than stagnating.

Stress is your physical body's physical reaction to the demands that you have in your life which can be both positive or negative demands. You probably are aware of some of the signs of stress such as continual exhaustion or lack of energy, aching muscles, migraines, headaches, hot flashes, tight stomach, dry throat, increased heartbeat, difficulty sleeping or waking up in the middle of the night, heavy heart, not caring about yourself or others like you used to, and just not having time or energy for others. Both positive and negative stress causes similar bodily reactions, so it is helpful to learn to deal with it.

Do you think that stress is the result of the outside pressures you are dealing with related to your employment, money, relationships, sex life, or health? Not so! Stress is really an inside job. You choose how you respond to external problems and pressures. Only you can give yourself stress or reduce it.

So how do you reduce it? Here are some effective stress busters.

Check your thinking. Living up to some idealized picture in our heads adds stress. Are you telling yourself that it will be the end of the world if you make a mistake at work, have a messy house, don't finish everything on your list, or can't pay a bill on time? In each of these examples you can change your stress level by changing your thinking.

Are you attempting to control someone else's behavior? Good luck. You only have the ability to control your own behavior. Yes, as parents, it is our responsibility to give loving guidance to our children. Still, even our own children will make their own decisions and mistakes.

Other ideas include using exercise or being outside in nature to blow of excess energy and get into a more positive frame of mind. In fact, anything positive that gets you to redirect your emotions can be helpful. Do you have a favorite hobby? Do it to redirect your emotions!

Breathing exercises that can be as simple as noticing your breathing patterns, slowing it down, and breathing more deeply, or meditation are effective ways to change your bodily response to stress. Also helpful are the old stand bys of eating healthfully (stay away from drugs and alcohol) and getting enough rest.

In the meantime, learn to accept and let go of the things you can't change. Prioritize the things you want to do according to what is most important to you, and focus on completing one task at a time.

Staying in and enjoying this moment, right now, rather than thinking about the past or future, can be most helpful of all.

Author's Bio: 

Louann is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Colorado and hold a Masters level degree in Counseling from Western New Mexico University in Silver City, New Mexico.

In addition to private practice she is currently teaching healthy relationship classes at several local agencies.

She has counseled individuals and provided psycho-educational classes at both an outpatient mental health center for adults, a local middle school, and a grade school in New Mexico.

Louann has a Bachelors of Science degree in education from the University of Northern Colorado. As an educator, she taught grade school, middle school and adult individuals, during a 26 year teaching career.

She specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing(EMDR), and has experience working with people of all ages.

She enjoys working with individuals, couples and groups.