A lot of bad things that happen to one's body can be blamed on stress. Tackle it head on, says Sheila Kumar

Stress raises adrenaline levels which boost cytokine levels which, in turn, inflame blood vessels. This makes it easy for cholesterol to clog arteries. You fall ill; gain weight; get depressed. You are perennially stressed. And the circle is complete.

But there are ways to break that cycle. Read, absorb, and imbibe some of these pointers.

Don't sweat over the small stuff; manage it. When you feel overwhelmed, use all that negative energy in a positive way. Sit down and make lists and accomplish tasks, moving from small ones to large ones. Tie up the loose ends, rather than have them pile up to become one monster mountain.

Learn to recognise what triggers your stress attacks and then, effectively counter the provocateurs. Learn to let go of stuff you cannot control, manage or change. Control, manage and change what you can.

Learn to accept stress as something inevitable but something that you can cope easily with. It's about a Zen frame of mind. Acquire a certain amount of inner calm and that becomes a potent weapon with which to defeat stress.

If aromatherapy oils or fragrance candles work for you, use them freely. Cinnamon, clove, basil, eucalyptus and rose help relax both the body and the mind.

Fifteen minutes of meditation in a quiet environment can help control stress levels. If you aren't into meditation, settle down and unspool a montage of healing, peaceful thoughts in your mind.

Like all other tenets of healthy living, combating stress requires healthy eating. Don't binge on fatty/fried/sweet foods. But don't stress over the occasional binge, either. Indulge in some of your favourite foods, the feel-good feeling you get is all for the good. Eat dessert. Eat mint, smell cinnamon.

When you feel your stress level peaking, drop what you are doing and go for a walk. Walking is a major stress buster. Go for a long ramble or a short, brisk stroll, whatever works best for you.

Exercise regularly, even 10 minutes a day will help. The rush you get from a workout helps deal with most everyday stress.

Find out the time your body is most alert and work to the maximum then. If you regularly fall victim to the afternoon slump, if you are an owl who doesn't function too well till late in the morning, don't fight your timeline, just go with it.

Never underestimate the powers of a sympathetic ear. Alongside a sympathetic pet, a sympathetic friend is an invaluable stress buster. Surround yourself with friends… the noise, laughter and talk serve as stress-repellers.

Give yourself some me-time. Dress up. Go for a facial. Look good = feel good.

Take it easy. That really has been, is, and will be the best policy.

If you must lose your cool, time yourself and call a halt after a while. Letting off steam, in small doses, is good. Don't go on and on, though…that is upping your stress level.

Make a list of pros and cons after every adversity you face. Read the list, absorb and learn. Know what to do the next time. After which, destroy that piece of paper. You are done with it.

When your boss points out things you did wrong, agree with calm sincerity. The first few times you will be faking it, the acceptance and the calm demeanour. After a while, you really will take criticism the best way.

Turn off the cell phone. Take time off from the computer. Switch off the TV and read a book instead.

Indulge yourself. Play a slow song. Sleep more/less.

Stop worrying. Stop doing stuff you don't need to do. The world will not stop or fall to pieces if you shrug.

Do one thing at a time… with your full focus on it. The rush from a job well done can never be underestimated.