We each deal with stress in our own way. With a deadline fast approaching, you might find it more difficult to get a good night’s rest, or you might down an entire bag of tortilla chips without even noticing. I’ve been there, too.

Stress has a wide range of negative side effects we have all experienced, but what if I told you that regardless of what was going on in your life you could stay calm, happy and focused? Now I’ve got your attention!

What seems to cause you the most stress in your life at this moment? Your job, an upcoming test, a sick family member, that rock you just stubbed your toe on? Those are called stressors.

Whatever your stressor(s), you have the power to respond to your circumstances in more than one way. Our default to hard situations is usually anxiety, fear, and worry. With practice, you can create a different default response. Think of it as becoming response-ible.

It all starts with your thoughts. That’s right—it’s not your job or your family or your situation causing you stress. It’s how you think about yourself, others, and what’s going on around you. You are the cause of your own stress, which is kind of awesome because it means that you can also prevent your own stress.

“As we think, so we are; as we continue to think, so we remain,” wrote English businessman James Allen in his renowned book, “As a Man Thinketh,” over 100 years ago.

When you notice yourself feeling stressed what thoughts are you having? Usually there are a lot of “what ifs,” mixed in with some “I should haves,” and negative self-talk going on. None of which makes you feel very good about yourself or helps improve your life.

When you learn to catch yourself thinking this way and reset your internal voice to a more positive tone, you will literally change how you feel. If, instead, you practice thinking more about what you are grateful for, what is going right in your life, and what you love about yourself and others, I guarantee your negative stress will begin to fade.

This is not an easy thing to do and it does not come naturally. Practice, practice, practice. Just like in creating any new habit, if you are patient with yourself and willing to put in the effort, you will succeed and you will improve. Practice self-dcontrol with your thoughts and you will experience less stress and more peace and happiness.

I challenge you to right this second write down three things you are stressed about. Now write down why they stress you out. An example might be, “I am stressed out because I have an interview next week and I might not get the job because I’m not qualified enough.”

Now I want you to write another sentence under each of your three stressors that relates positively to that topic. For example “I have an interview next week that I’m excited to use as practice even if I don’t get the job. If I don’t get the job it doesn’t mean I’m not good enough; it just means there is probably something better out there for me that I will enjoy even more!”

Negative stress is always the effect of negative thoughts in some direction. Based on fear or some future perceived, even when it hasn’t even taken place. I wish you a wonderful week, and you can help it along by taking five minutes each morning to connect your thoughts (on or off paper) and hold yourself accountable to thinking good thoughts about yourself and other.

Commit and practice, starting now.