Cancer Council Queensland’s Katie Clift explains why it’s important to learn how to handle stress in healthy ways.

We all have that one friend – someone who glides through life effortlessly, easily managing the stress and strain of everyday life.

How do they keep so calm and carry on while many of us struggle to cope? As the cliché goes, often it’s a case of not sweating the small stuff.

A quick mental reframe empowers us to see problems as opportunities for learning, failures as new beginnings, and concerns as challenges that can be rewarding to solve.

Learning to handle stress in healthy ways is very important.

The Australian Psychological Society encourages people to start small by making sure they are eating healthy food and getting regular exercise.

Stress is impossible to eliminate, but it can be managed. Exercise is one of the most well-known coping techniques recommended by health professionals.

Studies show that exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function.

When your body feels better, so will your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produces endorphins and also improves your ability to sleep.

Sleep allows our brains to recharge and our bodies to rest. The American Psychological Association says that sleep is so crucial that even slight deprivation can contribute to poor health and affect memory, judgement and mood.

Having trouble shaking a nagging feeling or worry? Try meditation to calm your mind. Studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggest that mindfulness meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.

Spending quality time with friends and family can also make a big difference to your mindset. Meaningful interaction can improve wellbeing by generating positive thoughts.

As a bonus, researchers at Bringham Young University and the University of North Carolina who pooled 148 studies on health outcomes and social relationships, determined that a healthy social life may be as good for long-term health as avoiding cigarettes.

If you’re experiencing stress or irritability, it’s tempting to gravitate toward unhealthy foods for easy energy boosts. Before you reach for that quick fix – remember that the boost will result in a crash twice as hard.

Pack main meals with foods rich in amino acid tryptophan, a key building block for serotonin (the happy hormone). Chicken, oily fish, dairy foods, soya, nuts and seeds are good choices, and vitamin B6 – found in brown rice, wholemeal wheat, beans and pulses will help you process it.

Nourish your body and don’t forget your daily dose of two serves of fruit and five serves of fresh veggies a day.

Good nutrition contributes significantly to maintaining a healthy weight, better quality of life, good physical and mental health throughout life, resistance to infection, and to protection against chronic disease and premature death.

Remembering the big picture will keep things in perspective. It’s impossible to get rid of all of our problems – but we can change our relationship with them. Don’t let small setbacks or inconveniences get you down. Try not to sweat the small stuff.

For more information on healthy living and reducing your cancer risk, visit cancerqld.org.au or call Cancer Council’s 13 11 20.