UNITED STATES—Stress, it’s part of our daily lives. No matter how much we attempt to avoid it, stress is something that is unavoidable at times. So what do you do when you encounter stress? Well you have two options: deal with it straight on or cave into the chaos. Stress doesn’t just impact your mood, it can affect your ability to sleep and eat.

I’ll admit this past week has been beyond stressful for me. Between dealings with a change in hours at one job, to family stressors, financial matters and the notion of feeling exhausted, I was ready to throw in the towel. It’s easy for someone who isn’t in your shoes to judge your behavior; I mean quite frankly they don’t get it. The only way for them to understand would be to actually walk in your shoes for a month. Why not a week? Well, they’ll really get the opportunity to feel the chaos that I feel.

I mean can you imagine having to work midnights, after years of not working midnights. It is no easy adjustment for the body, especially someone who literally became an insomniac while in college. Yes, I do regret those all-nighters because it made it quite difficult for me to get on a sleep pattern.

I’m going to say this now: sleep is vital for the body to properly respond to stressors. The inability to sleep can only cause the stress level to heighten even more. Unfortunately, stress can also lead a person to have sleepless nights. When it comes to work, stress is a daily precursor; you sometimes never know what to expect. I’ve come to realize you just have to roll with the punches a lot of the time. Do not allow those unexpected curveballs and surprises to throw you off. Yes, they might be unexpected, but do your best to complete the task or tasks at hand.

Sometimes things will indeed arise that will be out of your control, and you can’t cave into the pressure. That is the thing about work, so many of us are working so much and too much to the point we lose all composure. I recall back in the day where people had only 1 job, nowadays it seems normal to be working 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet. Yep, I fall into that category. I sometimes have the slightest idea what it means to have a social life because work has taken over.

I vividly recall one of my professors stating: “Work to live not live to work.” I sometimes have to think about that quote every so often. I don’t want that feeling that my life revolves around work; I’m simply working as a means to provide the essentials I need for daily life. Another important stress factor to eliminate is to STOP working. Some of us never know how to throw in the towel; others never show up to work. I will argue for those of us who have a side gig where you work from the comfort of your home, it’s not always easy to disconnect from work.

Why? Your home is work, but I’ve learned at times you just have to cut-off. It can wait till tomorrow, you have to implement that feeling because if you don’t it only ignites more fuel for your hatred for a job and even worse heightens your stress levels. Stress is not just bad for your mental health, but it impacts your body as well. You can become more prone to getting sick, you elevate your blood pressure and in some cases it can lead to heart attacks for some people, especially women.

Looking at the factors as to why women suffer more heart attacks than men, is for another column. For the past week, I’ve had trouble sleeping because of stressors related to work and I have discovered that it’s imperative to reiterate to myself and say positive things consistently. Thinking them is one thing, but actually saying them out loud has an even bigger impact psychologically.

I have to remind myself that the day will be a good day, things will be good, money is coming, life is too short to worry, amongst other things. I will admit the notion of positive thinking versus negative thinking is important, but there are some things that are indeed out of your control. I don’t believe everything is in your control, and sometimes you have to let things go that are out of your control.

There are external factors that you are unable to dictate. I know I can’t completely eliminate stress from my life, but I am aware that I can do things to decrease some of the stressors that pop up in my life. Positive thinking, letting go and just knowing what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger are factors that play an important role.