FOR many of us, there is never enough time. There are so many things to do and so little time in which to get them done. Reports are due. Project deadlines are coming up. A major client has not paid your latest invoice and there are bills to be paid next week.

Stress is closing in on all of us. Stress is affecting not only the way we do business, but also our bodily health. While we cannot make stress go completely away, there are some things we can do to reduce our stress levels and make us happier and more productive.

Here are 12 things you can do to reduce stress:

1.Change "I have to..." to "I get to..."

Small business writer Don Doman, author of "Out of Work? Get Into Business" and "Look Before You Leap: Market Research Made Easy", says that when he is feeling overwhelmed and has too many things to do, he starts using the phrase, "I get to".

Even the most miserable of tasks seem easier and less stressful if you get to do them. It seems like a reward. By removing that feeling that you "have" to do something, you have reduced some pressure and stress.

2. Keep toys on your desk

My wife used to keep "Transformers" - plastic robots that change their shape depending on which way your turn them - near the phone. She played with them while she was on the phone. It gave her something physical and mental to do at the same time, and helped reduce anxiety.

3.Write it down

By putting your thoughts down on paper (or on the computer), you can transfer your emotions from your mind to something more tangible. After you are done with the writing, you can crumble up the paper and throw it away, or light a match to it and let your troubles go up in smoke.

4.Tackle the most stressful tasks first

As we become more tired, our stress defences go down, so it is best to handle the most stressful events when your body is most alert and rested.

5.Exercise

I have a "Thigh Master" that I use to exercise my upper body and my thighs when I have been hunched over a desk for too long. Getting away from the desk and exercising for just a couple minutes can reduce stress remarkably. If you can get away for a walk, that is even better. Think about pleasant thoughts and not about your problems.

6.Breathe deeply

Headache expert Dr Jeffry Finnigan in his book, "Life Beyond Headaches", says that one of the main keys to a healthy body is getting oxygen, which you cannot do if you are slumped over and stressed out.

Take a few minutes away from your work, close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. I like to tell myself that with each outgoing breath I am becoming calmer and less worried and stressed. If you can stop and breathe deeply for 10 minutes a couple of times a day, you can reduce your stress level dramatically.

7. Make yourself at home

Personalise your workspace. Surround yourself with photographs of home, posters from favourite movies or plants and flowers. Familiar objects help you to relax.

8. Drink orange juice

Scientists have discovered that vitamin C can reduce the production of stress hormones. Eat an orange, drink some juice, take a 200 mg supplement, or eat other foods rich in vitamin C like broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, grapefruit and cataloupe melon.

9.Sing a song

This tip does double duty. Singing relaxes the body and helps you breathe more deeply. But be considerate. If you don't sing well, save this activity for the shower or you might create more stress for the people around you!

10.Watch a funny video

Laughter, like singing, gets more oxygen into your lungs, so watch something that really makes you laugh out loud.

11.Reduce multi-tasking

The more balls you have in the air, the more stressed you will feel. Reduce the number of tasks you are juggling and lower your tension and stress.

12.Find out more about stress

Read a book, listen to an audiobook or watch a documentary about it. You will discover that there are many ways to overcome stress and cope with stressful situations.

No matter what kind of work you do, you will experience some form of stress. Do not let it overwhelm you. You can learn to control it.