(This article is part of the ongoing column 12 Steps to Success.)

Stress, which probably contributes the most  to  our society’s poor health,  may account for as many as 70% of all visits to family doctors.1 Stress has been linked to decreased productivity and absenteeism at work; mental illness, including depression; higher medical costs; and the 6 leading causes of death― suicide, cancer, accidents, and lung, liver, and heart disease.

Most of the stress that we experience is generated internally by our own perceptions and reactions rather than as a result of external events or situations, such as the loss of a loved one or an upset client.1 We now recognize that we contribute to much of our stress, because it develops as a result of our limiting  beliefs and our responses to external pressure or incidents, and this new reality means that we also should realize that we have the ability to exert a large degree of control over stress and its effect.

Here are 4 valuable tips that will help relieve daily stress.1

1)  Relax and Meditate: Our stress response is automatic, but it takes a conscious effort to encourage the body to relax. Playing with pets, walking outside, or resting by the pool are all good ways to dissipate stress and force your body to unwind. Also, keeping your mind focused on the present moment rather than dwelling on your worries is an important factor in true relaxation.3

Meditation is also useful for neutralizing stress and teaching your body to relax. The wide variety of meditation techniques that exist can be learned from formal courses, books, or audio recordings.

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