This description of a typical high-stress lifestyle may sound familiar to you… very familiar…

You get up in the morning, and you’re running late, so the stress begins before you’re even done eating breakfast. You rush off to work, stressing about whether you’ll make it to work on time and then stressing about whether you’ll get a speeding ticket on the way and end up really late. When you get to work, you’re stressing about your job performance, your demanding boss and whether you’ll get that promotion. When you’re not stressing about your performance at work, you’re stressing about your son’s performance in school. As you’re stressing over the traffic on the way home, you’re stressing about your upcoming vacation plans. Finally, you’re on your way out the door for vacation, but now you’ve got airport and flying stress!

It seems like you can’t avoid it. Out of the frying pan into the fire, from one stress to the next you go. It may even seem amusing on the surface, all these little things stressing us out, but it’s not a laughing matter at all. Getting control over the stress in your life can be a matter of life and death. If you’re perpetually stressed and you don’t learn what to do about it, you could become a prime candidate for high blood pressure – the silent killer.

Medical experts estimate that 90 percent of Americans will have high blood pressure at some point in their lives. With staggering statistics like this on their minds, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh embarked on a 13-year study to see if early-life stressors impacted someone’s future blood pressure levels.

Following more than 5,000 men and women between the ages of 18 and 30, the researchers studied the subjects’ cardiovascular activity through a series of rather unusual tests, including submersing the subject’s hands in ice cold water and having them engage in stressful video games.

After taking each person’s blood pressure, they hypothesized that participants with the highest blood pressure readings would be precursors to high readings later in life. Thirteen years later, when the test results were re-evaluated–you guessed it–a significant number of those same participants had become hypertensive. The study was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

So how do you go about minimizing your tendency towards getting stressed? Is it even possible in today’s fast paced, information-overloaded and hectic society? The answer is yes and you’re about to learn how.

First, I’d like you to consider the fact that I’m not suggesting that you stop everything you’re doing. You don’t necessarily have to slow down, you simply need to calm down. With that thought in mind, here are some action steps you can take starting today, which will make a big difference in keeping your stress levels under control, and minimizing the negative effects of stress that cannot be avoided.

(1) Exercise – Besides being good for your body, exercise is good for your brain. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which make us feel happy, and at ease. It also helps to increase the flow of blood in the brain, ridding the mind of waste products that develop in the course of stressful times when mental processes are in excess. Furthermore, the more fit you are, the more you’re able to cope with events in life that bring about stress.