In today’s hyperactive hustle environment, it has become a badge of honor to be stressed, lose sleep, and constantly be on the move. These characteristics, especially among high-achievers, have become an almost minimum benchmark to strive towards. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

I recently spoke to Khuram Dhanani, the President and CEO of, a seasoned internet entrepreneur and investor, about his views on stress. Refreshingly, Dhanani isn’t a big believer in stress and strongly feels success and stress don’t have to go hand in hand. Whether in business or in life, success without stress is possible.

When doing anything you really want to be great at, whether an entrepreneur working on your next incredible venture, an artist trying to make it big, or giving everything you have to lay the foundation needed to lead your family in living a healthy fulfilled life, it takes a tremendous amount of focus, energy and dedication.

There will be times when things role along quite beautifully and then there are times when the stress can become overwhelming if you let it. The key here is “if YOU let it.” Stress is the body’s natural defense against predators and dangers. It flushes the body with hormones in order to evade or confront danger – think of the well-known fight-or-flight response.

“Knowing the importance of having the right mindset to tackle the challenges that come along in business and in life is key,” Dhanani stated. Although a variety of things and situations can trigger stress, stress can also result as a manifestation of emotions that have not been effectively processed. Stress can be triggered by worry, guilt or fear, among other things. 

When we deal with the emotions as they are experienced, they are less likely to manifest into the physical symptomatology related to stress such as elevated heart rates, headaches, muscle pain, anxiety, loss of appetite and a whole host of other physical, emotional and behavioral issues. In fact, if left untreated, chronic stress can lead to mental health issues, eating disorders, cardiovascular disease and may in fact increase the risk of premature death by as much as 43%. No thank-you!

Stress is as unique as the individual experiencing it, so unfortunately, there’s no colorful magic pill to cure it, but our attitude towards it will go a long way in helping manage it and our mindset can help us combat it all together.

The first step in combating stress is to really get in tune with yourself, which in fact, is the first principle of increasing your emotional intelligence – self-awareness.  Not only will this help with combatting stress, but in addition, increasing your emotional intelligence has a whole host of other benefits (an article for another day!). 

Know your body, understand your emotions and the triggers that drive these emotions.  In Khuram Dhanani’s experience, “Awareness is key”. Being aware allows us to stop, take a breath, and process the emotion. We can do this in five simple steps:

  1. Acknowledge the emotion and determine what it is you are feeling (anger, fear, sadness, frustration, guilt, etc.).
  2. Identify what triggered the emotion.
  3. Rationalize your reaction to the emotion.
  4. Give yourself time (but don’t dwell) to constructively express the emotion.
  5. Move on.

Recognizing the importance of each of these steps is critical. Some people want to go from step one straight to step five, but according to Khuram Dhanani, if you skip out on steps two – four, you could be well on your way to cocooning those unprocessed emotions into the dreaded “S” word before you know it!

Self-awareness, self-healing and self-care are powerful tools. You can choose to let stress control your life or you can choose to control the stress in your life. The choice is always yours!