I have a stress rash that’s only just going. It’s my own fault because I’d forgotten that gratitude can help us deal with stress.

More than two thirds of us in Britain are stressed, according to a survey by Green Flag published yesterday.

We say that transport delays, heavy workloads, and bills are the main things that stress us out. 10% of us say that what stresses us most is when people don’t reply to our texts.

Can you imagine it? People not replying to our texts. Simply appalling behaviour. It would stress anyone.

As I type this I have just heard an announcement, “This train is experiencing difficulties, which are being dealt with by the guard.” Stress.

Today I’ve got a stack of meetings in my diary and no time to do any work. Stress.

I’ve noticed that I’ve put a bit of weight on, and I can’t get to the gym until the weekend. Even more stress.

That email I looked at this morning. The bastard. How dare he say that to me.

And now some person stinking of stale booze has sat next to me.

Somebody has just SNEEZED!

It’s 07:03 and already my stress is getting out of control.

Except it isn’t. All of the above has just happened but I’m not letting it get to me. I am making the choice not to be stressed. Because that’s what stress is. It’s a choice. Maybe an unconscious one. Certainly an unwelcome one. But a choice it is. We choose to let the things that bother us get on top of us. I know this because I do still let stress get to me. As I said, my stress rash is only just going. I have just started a new job and last week completed my first big high-profile piece of work. A pitch for a big piece of business, working directly with the CEO and other senior colleagues. Too right I was stressed but I made the choice to let it bother me as little as possible. Vitally, I chose to deal with my stress every day. The presentation went well. The stress rash is going.

Stress is a choice. It’s a choice to get annoyed by the unanswered text, the delayed train, or the late night (probably stress-induced) email. I can let these things get to me. I can let these stressors pile on top of each other, compounding their effects. I can make that choice.

I could make the choice to deal with them all by drinking a whole bottle of Malbec. Or shouting at Isabel. Or going silent on her. Or emailing that bastard back. I’ve done all those things before. Too many times.

Or I could make the choice to get out a stop early and walk for a bit. Maybe I could write down three things I am grateful for this morning. Perhaps I could email somebody and say something that will make them smile. I’ve done all of these things. Not often enough. But I know they work. I know that they help me to keep things in perspective. Keep my stress under control.

Life IS hard. There are plenty of bumps in the road. Massive boulders sometimes. But we all have choices. And I choose to be stressed as little as possible. It doesn’t always work. But it’s always worth trying.