Build these five behaviors into your life and you’ll increase your chances of managing your stress — and maintaining your health –over the long term.

By Mary Shackelford (Passion Coach, Mary Shackelford Wellness Solutions)

The demands placed on successful, driven professional women in this modern day are never ending.  Especially in the realm of technology where everything is cutting edge and changing at what seems like the speed of light. In fact, these demands come from every direction: work, family, friends, financial, social commitments, community involvement, and society in general.

Even when the source of these demands come from things we love and feel passionate about…it can be stressful.

Did you know stress is the underlying cause of or exacerbates nearly every chronic illness we face today; from diabetes and heart disease to cancer?  Stress has been found to be responsible for up to 90% of all visits to the doctor!

Stress is serious stuff. It is nearly impossible to avoid. It causes damage to the physical, mental and spiritual body. It makes us sick and can even kill.

If you do not protect yourself, your brilliant light can flicker and even get fried. You will never realize your full potential. Your impact in your work, on your family and in the world will be diminished. Your joy and happiness can be sucked away.

Don’t let stress get the best of you. Implement what I call a Personal Surge Protection System. Here are five of my favorite practices to limit the damaging effect of stress and to allow your light to continue to shine brightly so you can keep changing the world.

Belly Breathe

Most of us are living in a constant state of stress and we habitually breathe very shallowly. This way of breathing signals to the brain that we are stressed; unleashing a cascade of physiological responses called the stress response. The quickest and easiest way to stop this process is to learn to belly breathe. Begin by placing your hands on your belly just below your belly button. Focus on expanding this area of your belly like a small balloon every time you inhale. When you exhale, your belly will naturally fall. Do this for several cycles of breath throughout your day and I know that you will feel the difference.

Eat Your Vegetables

The stress response requires and uses a lot of energy and therefore zaps our nutrients. Vegetables are the best source of nutrients that support cells in doing what they do. When your cells are fueled and happy, your organs are happy and therefore your body is happy. All veggies are great so go for variety. Be sure to include more leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower). Aim for at least 5+ servings each day.

Quiet Please

Quite time is critical to your wellbeing. The bottom line is you need time for your brain to quiet down and to allow your body to settle down and relax.  Relaxing without a bunch of outside stimulation allows your body, mind, spirit and emotions to come into balance. This balance allows the stress hormones to decrease in your system. Quiet time can be spent in prayer, meditation, sitting in nature or just breathing (see #1). It is NOT texting, emailing, being on social media, surfing the net or the like. Start small and build up… even just one minute will make you feel better!

Get Your Giggle On

We are often way too serious, especially at work. We fill our time with so many to-dos that we can lose site of why we are doing all this… to enjoy ourselves. Humor and laughter are literally the best medicine (studies prove it). Laughter helps calm your body and decrease the stress response. So go find something funny and giggle your stress away…every day!

Snooze or Lose

I know you have heard this before… but it is worth repeating until you get it. You must get enough sleep. Sleep is the time for repair and rejuvenation of your cells. It is when your brain files, processes and organizes all the great ideas and work you did that day. It is your time to reboot and reset the circuits. No more sacrificing sleep for productivity.

What do you do to manage your stress?

2c3be86About the guest blogger: Mary Shackelford is the passion coach. As a coach, speaker and writer, she has devoted her work to empowering women who feel overwhelmed, depleted or who have lost sight of their own dreams.Through her coaching, workshops, writing and seminars Mary shows driven, busy women how to live with passion and freedom.