Stress affects one in five of the working population, according to the Stress Management Society, a non-profit group. "Recent research shows that the body is designed to experience intense stress two or three times per month but we're living like this all the time," says founder Neil Shah. "It's like asking a sprinter to maintain their pace for a marathon." To reduce your speed:
1 Be proactive: identify your "triggers" then work out what to do about them. De-stressing therapies such as massage, hypnosis, yoga or life-coaching may also help you to get a grip.
2 Eat "calming" foods: self-medicating with espresso, chocolate, whisky or worse is common, but a bad idea. Studies have found that diet can significantly influence emotional and physical wellbeing. Cut down on caffeine, sugar, nicotine and booze, and try eating foods rich in magnesium (thought to be calming). Porridge with almonds for breakfast is a good source of magnesium, as are green vegetables, other nuts, seeds, whole grains and pulses.
3 Exercise, but not too much: exercise can help reduce stress but pumping yourself too hard may do the opposite, raising levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Walking, swimming or yoga are better than an intense session at the gym.
4 Laugh: you feel better instantly. Laughter activates your body's stress response, then quickly cools it down, leaving you relaxed and full of endorphins. Studies have found that laughter can improve the immune system and ease pain.
5 Involve your subconscious: "Focus on the results you want, instead of on what is stressing you," says Shah. Picture yourself relaxing, meeting your deadline or getting a good night's sleep - instead of envisaging everything going wrong.