Stress kills. Stress negatively impacts our lives in numerous ways. To live a healthy and happy life, we must take intentional action to live in ways that reduce stress and promote health. In this article, I share 21 effective ways you can reduce stress, improve your health, and enjoy your life more.

1. Sleep & Rest

Without sleep and rest, you will become stressed.

2. Sing

Sing a happy song. Sing under your breath as you go about your day. Sing a song of adoration. Sing about something you love and enjoy. If you are a worshiper, sing a song of worship. It is amazing how powerful singing is to bring transformation to a person’s soul. It completely changes your paradigm. I think singing works miracles in a depressed or anxious soul. Not a good singer? No problem. You don’t have to sound good. You can sing to yourself. Don’t know any songs? No problem. You can learn a handful of songs. You can even get a songbook or hymnary and sing from it.

3. Surrender

Meditate over the futility of our attempt to control circumstances and then surrender. This will help us stop worrying about things we can’t control. Come to terms that your life can be snuffed away at any time.

4. Smile & Laugh

With your smile, you can brighten another person’s day. Laughter is great medicine. It changes your brain chemistry and is wonderful for your health. And you don’t need a reason to laugh. Your body can’t tell the difference between a spontaneous laughter triggered by something funny and laughter that is intentionally initiated. Just do it. Laugh and be healed and rejuvenated.

5. Serve others and be generous

Remove the focus from you and your needs and focus on helping someone else.

Give your treasures, talents, and time away.

6. Say I’m sorry

Ask for forgiveness and resolve any conflicts in your life.

7. Have fun

Make time to regularly do something that you enjoy.

8. Be Spiritually Minded

We are material, mental, social and spiritual beings. Many people ignore their spiritual dimension. Feed your spirit. Be spirit filled, spirit formed, and spirit led.

9. Be vulnerable

Let yourself be seen. Have the courage to be imperfect. Take the roof off. Remove the mask. Let people know you for who you truly are. Fully embrace vulnerability. Brene Brown puts it this way: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love.”

10. Be calling-driven

Know why you are on earth. Be able to state your purpose and calling at any time.

11. Be focused

Do a little well. You change the world by doing a few things very well not by doing many things.

12. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize

Be orderly. Put first things first in your life and everything else will line up correctly.

13. Use your gift of imagination

Meditate on things that are positive and good. Only think about what is positive.

15. Use the replacement principle

If you want to get rid of negative thoughts you are having about someone, don’t simply try to stop thinking these thoughts. It won’t work. Instead, replace them with positive thoughts about that person. Think about something they did that was good. Try hard and you will find good things about any person. The only way to drive out darkness is to bring in light.

16. Exercise frequently

Exercise 45 minutes five days a week.

17. Practice Healthful Eating

Eat a healthy diet: We are what we eat. What we eat determines our health and our health impacts every dimension of our lives. Avoid nutritional stressors like excess calories, animal fat, sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and salt. When you limit your calory intake, you live longer.

Eat earlier in the day: Avoid eating late in the night when your metabolic rate is slow.

Eat slowly: Never rush your eating. Develop the habit of eating slowly and savoring your food. Eating has a huge impact on our lives. What you eat, when you eat, with whom you eat, where you eat, how you eat, and why you eat will shape your life.

18. Practice mindfulness

Spend most of your time living in the present, enjoying everything before you. Thinking too much about the past or dreaming too much about the future steals time from the present that is right in front of you. When you lose the present, you never get it back. The future will come, and the past is gone. Don’t lose the present too.

19. Cultivate healthy relationships

Make relationship building a strong priority. A happy life is a life that is connected to other people in meaningful ways. Evaluate all your relationships. Get rid of toxic, non-life-giving relationships. Go out and make new friends with whom you can form life-giving win-win relationships.

20. Choose your response to every stimulus

Don’t react. Respond. There is a time that elapses between every stimulus and the response you give to it. When someone insults you, that’s an impulse. You brain receives it and processes it helping you to understand that you have been insulted. At that point, you have time to choose your response. Don’t be childish and let other people’s impulses push buttons on you to act in ways their impulse determines. Choose your own response. When insulted, choose to respond with kindness instead of insult for insult.

21. Manage your time well

Time management is really a misnomer. Everyone has the same amount of hours in a day. What we need to do is manage ourselves well within those hours.

Don’t check your personal email 10 times per day. It distracts you.

Value your time and spend it well.

Learn to delegate some tasks to others.