Guest Post by Mike Tennant
Fast food restaurants line the streets. Gym memberships get more and more expensive every month. Tight deadlines at work mean little time for worrying about proper nutrition during the day. And on top of all that, busy family schedules make fixing a wholesome meal on a regular basis all the more difficult.
Let’s face it – there are so many factors working against those of us trying to lose weight these days.
One factor in particular can really damage your bottom line – weight loss wise. Stress. Stress can rear its ugly head at a moment’s notice, and can be caused by just about anything. Work, social events, even your family can cause stress. Not only stress harmful to your mind and body, but it can also lead to other more unhealthy habits. Those suffering from high stress levels easily turn to unhealthy things like junk food rather than dealing with the real problem – stress. Of course that cheeseburger will make you feel better right now – but the long-term consequences just aren’t worth it.
Below are five simple yet effective techniques for dealing with stress that can help you turn away from unhealthy habits and be more productive at the same time.  
Accept imperfection. One of the causes of stress in students is a drive for perfection. Instead of focusing on what you haven't been able to do, think about all you've accomplished and realize that no one is perfect. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help - there are many different support networks available for a reason.
Breathe. While it sounds like the most simplistic advice ever, just breathing can do wonders for your stress level. Simply taking deep breathes and counting to 10 is a great way to battle the feeling of being overwhelmed. Exhaling slowly can decrease your heart rate and in turn calm your body down.
Play a game. Nothing reduces stress like a quick game. Not only can it take your mind off any issues, but it'll also help you to relax by changing your focus to something fun. Chances are you have a game or two in your closet - even a deck of cards will do. Just a short bout of fun can refresh and reenergize your mind and body. Then you'll be ready to take on anything. 
Try yoga. Another form of exercise, yoga stresses the importance of reconnecting your mind and body - a perfect prescription for the stressed. There are all kinds of different classes and yoga sessions, and chances are your school has its own yoga class you can try. If you're unable to make it to a class, try some simple stretches instead. Focus on your breathing while stretching and just feel your stress float away.
Develop a support network. Sometimes the last thing we want to do is probably the first thing we need to do. One of the most important factors that can help weight loss is developing a network of friends and family you can lean on throughout the process. Take advantage of having the support available, especially when you're stressed out. And don't be afraid to grow your network - there are always people out there willing to help.
 Mike Tennant is a freelance writer from Orange County, CA. Mike has recently lost more than 120 lbs. thanks to proper diet, exercise and stress management. Currently Mike works for Air & Water Inc., where he helps people find the right coffee makers for their homes. 

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