How's your stress level? Well, whatever it is, know that it's human to stress.

But the good news is that we can manage it, and certainly minimize it, by making some positive changes. That is, of course, all dependent on the life choices we make.

Entrepreneur and author Todd Smith, in a Little Things that Matter blog post (which is also the title of his excellent book), challenges us to identify and learn to manage the things that are creating stress so we can improve every major area of our lives.

I've picked out 20 of his affirming life lessons for instant application, and hopefully, transformation. Here we go...

1. Don't over commit. Whether in your personal or professional life, learn your limits and set boundaries. Know when to say, "No!" Don't take on more than you can reasonably handle.

2. Avoid people who stress you out. If someone is a constant source of stress and you can't turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person, or end the relationship entirely.

3. Avoid heated topics. You know the topics that cause your blood pressure to rise, so learn to avoid them.

4. Change how you view things. Practice viewing stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than getting stressed out about sitting in traffic, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, to listen to your favorite music or an audio book, or to just enjoy some quiet time.

5. Practice positive thinking. How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. People who maintain a positive attitude and practice positive thinking experience less stress than those who are pessimistic and negative.

6. Anticipate problems. When issues arise, address them head on before they escalate. The best way to avoid big problems is by addressing them when they are small.

7. Express your feelings. When something or someone is upsetting you, learn to communicate your concerns in an open and respectful manner. Even if it's just sharing what you are going through with a friend, you will likely feel better.

8. Don't procrastinate. Putting things off until the last minute is a guaranteed way to increase your stress levels. Start doing what you know you should do when you know you should do it. Become a do-it-now person.

9. Stop striving for perfection. We should push ourselves to improve and to always do our best, BUT we need to know when something is good enough. On a scale of 1-10, start shooting for 8's and 9's.

10. Set aside relaxation time. Block out time each day to rest, relax, and recharge your batteries. Look at your daily schedule and identify one or more periods of time when you can take a break. Do something you enjoy during these blocks of time.

11. Exercise regularly. It is well documented that physical activity plays a key role in reducing the effects of stress on the body. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. A brisk walk can do wonders to reduce stress.

12. Get enough sleep. Getting a good night's sleep allows you to rest your mind and body. When you are tired and fatigued, you experience more stress than when you are fresh and full of energy.

13. Build valued relationships. If you put an emphasis on building valued relationships, you will not only find greater enjoyment in life, but you will have fewer conflicts. Spending time with positive and encouraging people makes you feel better and reduces stress.

14. Stop stressing over little things. So much stress comes from getting worked up over petty little things--such as the person driving slowly in front of you, or listening to someone who has an opposing view on an insignificant subject. Use your self-control to ignore the little things that bug you.

15. Learn to respond, not react. When something upsets you, don't react in haste. Instead pause and consider the best way to respond-a way that you will be proud of later.

16. Don't pick fights. You know the types of things that cause conflict. Unless it is something really important to you, learn to let it go.

17. Stop expecting people to live by your rules. Dealing with unmet expectations is a huge source of stress. Make sure you set proper expectations for yourself. When you set expectations for others, make sure they understand them. Expecting people to fulfill your unspoken expectations is a sure fire way to get a dose of unwanted stress.

18. Get organized. How do you feel when your home, car, or workplace is a mess, or when you are working on a project and can't find things? Take the time to get organized; then do the little things each day to stay organized.

19. Don't try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control, including the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control, such as how you should respond to them.

20. Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that we all make mistakes. Let go of anger, resentment, and negative energy by forgiving those who have hurt you.

Moving Forward

Here's a little coaching advice: Think about the things you can control that you are allowing to add unnecessary stress to your life. What are the triggers? What's behind those triggers (the true source of the stress)?

Now ask yourself what you can do to nip it in the bud? Is saying "yes" to every request from your peers impacting your stress levels? It may be time to set some boundaries.

As Smith instructs us in his post, managing stress is all about taking control of your thoughts, emotions, time, finances, communication, and how you respond to problems.