LIFE is a series of choices — and being free from stress is one of those choices.

As David Zerfoss, the author of Stress Is A Choice, puts it: “Many of us hurry through life going from one place to the next, focused on conquering the next mountain, making the next deal, running the next errand, and believing we will never have enough time to do all the things we need to get done.

“Yet, there is all the time in the world if we just realise that we are the creators of this life we choose to live.”

That is the first step towards overcoming stress in your life — the realisation that you have a choice. Only when you have accepted that truth, can you move on to turn whatever stress you are experiencing into positive energy.

The goal in overcoming stress is not to eliminate it as a whole but to learn how to manage it and turn it into positive energy to help you achieve your dreams and goals.

As you strive to find an optimal level of stress in your life, you will start to see that proper amounts of stress motivate you to excel in your performance.

On the other hand, disproportional levels of stress can suffocate and overwhelm you and create misery for both body and soul.

A person who is feeling stressed is likely to have the following missing elements in his life:

1. Perspective

As author Stephen Vincent Benét says: “Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by day, in all the thousand small, uncaring ways.”

The good news is that it is not difficult to transform from a stressed person who is merely “occupying space” and just living from day to day into a passionate, self-motivated happy individual.

All you may need is a change in perspective: Just change the way you think.

People with a good sense of perspective know where they are headed. They are able to separate what is important and what is not.

They do not allow themselves to get caught up with little irritations or with bad news. They realise that they will experience sad times as well as happy times, and know how important it is to value the happy times.

You may be just a small cog in the wheel in the company you work for, but when you realise that the wheel will not function well without this cog, you will be able to feel real passion and see meaning in what you do.

2. Autonomy

More often than not, we get stressed out when deadlines loom and the mountain of work seems to be getting higher.

You may be surprised to hear this: It is never about the amount of work per se; the stress comes from a feeling of having lost control.

If you look back at the happiest time of your time, most likely you will find it was a time when you had autonomy in your life — a feeling that you had options and time to exercise those options.

How does one get autonomy?

First, you must manage your time more effectively. Second, you have to learn skills that will help you work smarter. Finally, you must leave some space for yourself — don’t give all your time away.

3. Connectiveness

Connectiveness has to do with the relationships in your life — the quality and quantity of time you spend with the people you care about.

People who are dislocated from a familiar environment often fall sick because they feel disconnected.

If you have a high level of connectiveness, you are less likely to get stressed out.

One test to check the level of connectiveness in your work environment: When you go away from the office for a period of time, do your colleagues miss you or even realise you were not around?

How can you develop a satisfactory level of connectiveness, wherever you may be?

You can start by making an effort to put an extra something into every relationship, be it just a kind word, a friendly greeting or even a smile.

Watch out for the words you use — you can turn what sounds like criticism into positive feedback or even reinforcement just by carefully selecting the right words.

4. Tone

How physically fit and healthy are you feeling right now?

For a holistic approach to managing stress, it is also very important to look at what is happening to your body. More often than not, it is a chicken and egg situation — are you stressed because of your physical condition or is your physical condition the result of stress?

To get into the right tone, you need to be mindful of two areas: diet and exercise. There are no short cuts to good health.

By eating properly and exercising at least 30 minutes three or four times a week, you will have more energy, keep your weight in check and handle stress better.

I hope these tips have been helpful. If you still don’t know how to get started or need a sounding board, find yourself a coach or a mentor who can be your “conscience”, your success guide and motivator.

You’ve got nothing to lose — except a limited, stressful life — and everything to gain!