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Experts have never identified stress as a direct cause of death, but the medical community almost unanimously agrees that stress can be deadly when combined with obesity, heart disease, smoking and depression. Stress is also linked to strokes, obesity, impaired memory, suppressed immune function, hardening of the arteries and diabetes.

According to the American Institute of Stress in New York, stress costs $300 billion a year in health care and missed work. Here are 5 Cool Ideas for reducing stress and possibly avoiding a heart attack.

1. You can refuse delivery on stress.

Since much stress is based in fear, you can give yourself a boost anytime, anywhere, by dealing with your fear. Metaphorically, spread your arms parallel to the ground and repeat the mantra, “You can’t hurt me.” The advanced version is, “You won’t hurt me. I trust you not to hurt me.” Consult my booklet, Hmmm…Little Ideas With BIG Results, if you would like more information on this effective technique.

2. Learn how others deal with stress.

Pay attention to how people deal with bad news, long lines and disappointing service. Observe how some people respond to stress with aggression, anger and physical manifestation of their discomfort. Take note of how other people respond to stress by smiling and asserting themselves without raising their voices. The second group of people has learned how to resist daily wear and tear on their emotions. Model this behavior and you will have less stress.

3. Avoid drama junkies.

You have a limited amount of time to spend with others. Each hour you spend with negative people is an hour you can’t spend with positive people. If you can’t say “so long” to negative friends and associates, at least don’t say “hello” as often.

4. Impose deadlines on stress.

Be proactive about stress by refusing to let it linger. If you’re uptight about missing work after your surgery next month, promise yourself to start feeling better within a certain number of days after the operation. Here’s another way to impose a deadline on stress. When someone yells at you, convince yourself that your anger need only be present until the person’s words dissipate.

5. Repeat after me, “Mondays are good.”

Many people don’t like Mondays. They subscribe to the pervasive theory that the first business day of the week is going to be bad news. This is a depressing way to approach one-seventh of your life! Try thinking of Mondays as a fresh start to the week or the first day of the week that generates income. Over time, I’ve been able to convince myself that Monday is the best day of the week.

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