Try these four strategies to feel calmer, more centered, and better able to handle modern pressures and challenges.

1. Avoid Drugs, Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Chemicals 

The first step in developing stress-hardiness is to avoid unnecessary substances that increase the body’s stress load. This includes drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and even chemical additives in processed foods. More than half a century ago, the father of modern stress research, Hans Selye, MD, discovered that exposure to toxic chemicals elicited the body’s stress response and caused enlarged, overworked adrenal glands and suppression of the immune system.

2. Eat A Nutritious, Blood-Sugar-Balancing Diet

You may be tempted to reach for sugar when you’re anxious—sugar actually does reduce psychological stress in the short term, but it causes long-term physical stress to your brain and body. Refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, sugar-sweetened beverages, and white-flour products, rob the body of its nutrient reserves and weaken the adrenal glands, which produce our body’s main stress response hormones. This makes people feel more tired and less able to cope in the long run. High sugar intake also is linked to depression, which lowers our ability to cope with stress.