Managing stress levels is an essential component of success. This is because cortisol, the hormone associated with being stressed, can actually interfere with memory, learning, and your ability to function on optimal levels in all areas of your life. Although a little bit of stress can be helpful in terms of increasing motivation and persistence, too much stress will become detrimental to your success.

Some of the most impactful things you can do to manage stress are some of the simplest things you can do such as:

1. Begin breathing deeply and stop breathing shallowly. Most people breath shallowly and this actually increases stress. Think about how relaxed you feel after you yawn, which is the body’s way of forcing deep breathing. Deep breathing also increases oxygen levels in the body and oxygen is a physiological relaxant. Additionally, deep breathing can help manage blood pressure, and high blood pressure is related to stress!

2. Exercise is a key factor in helping to manage stress levels. When you exercise your body releases endorphins, a hormone which causes the body to feel good. This feel-good hormone actually helps the body improve stress levels.

3. Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential when we’re stressed. When we don’t get enough sleep our stress levels sky rocket and we become far less able to manage our emotions and complete projects successfully. Furthermore, your body repairs itself when you sleep. And sleep is necessary for your immune system to function optimally.

4. Eating healthy high-quality foods. Often when people feel stressed they start to rely on junk foods to get by. They may reach for sugary desserts to treat themselves or to forget the day. However, these foods only serve to make stress worse because they do not nourish the body. Foods filled with preservatives and sugar only serve to make our immune system work overtime, causing more stress in the body, and making it harder to recover during these difficult periods.

5. Talk to others about what’s stressing you. Whether you talk to a friend, a family member, or a counsellor, talking about what’s stressing you out will undoubtedly help you function better. It will also help clear your mind of your stressor so that you can be more focused on what it is you need to do to succeed.