Throughout my years as a publisher of women’s health magazines, I heard from thousands of women about their quests for well-being and their desires to regain control of their lives. Their stories were all different, but I noticed a common thread running through them. I realized that simply reading about how to change things wasn’t enough to help people change.

I discovered the need for something like meQuilibrium, an online stress support system I co-founded after a surprising personal epiphany. I was experiencing a fast-track career high point, and instead of being thrilled, I felt like I was at an all-time low.

What was keeping me from enjoying the rewards of my work?

What was going on in my head?

And how could I adjust it?

I knew that real self-improvement doesn’t come from taking a pill and wishing problems away. It doesn’t require spending thousands of dollars at medical facilities and high-end spas, either.  As it turns out, lasting balance in your life is the product of self-awareness, setting goals that are doable and a commitment to yourself.

The next time you’re derailed by an emotion, try this method:

TRAP IT
When you feel the emotion coming on, flag it. Notice the symptoms, such as clenched jaw, a sinking heaviness in your chest, or the inability to focus.

MAP IT
Identify the thoughts causing the emotion.

ZAP IT
Challenge the thoughts. Don’t let the negative thought get off easily. You want the real information, not just the emotion.
The World Health Organization calls stress “the health epidemic of the 21st Century” and, since stress contributes to all matter of health problems, changing the paradigm around it will pave the way for much more.

But the problem isn’t stress – the problem is our thinking that stress is a toxic state that needs to be eradicated or medicated out of existence.  Stress is part of a normal productive life and frankly, given the way we live, our economy, our 24/7 digital culture and the attendant obligations it places on the workforce, and students, too....well, I don’t see the levels changing much. But the key is managing our response to it. We’ve vaccinated ourselves from diseases of epidemic proportion, we've stemmed the tide of AIDS, and we can manage stress so that it works for us not against us.

Our goal with meQuilibrium is to create proactive mental wellness, allowing a person to have resilience to cope with all the things life throws at us. We believe meQ can help people improve their healthy behaviors, such as diet and sleep, and we are working with other companies in the fields of weight management, fitness, anti-aging, and parenting to make their programs even more effective.

Prior to founding meQuilibrium in 2010, Jan Bruce was managing director and publisher at Martha Stewart Living's Whole Living.com/body+soul magazine. Earlier she served as CEO and cofounder of Integrative Medicine Communications, the leading digital brand in science-based complementary medicine. Her new book, "meQuilibrium: 14 Days to Cooler, Calmer, and Happier," based on proven cognitive-behavioral science, presents easy and effective strategies to fundamentally and seismically shift our response to stress and learn how to lead more balanced lives—permanently. Discover the secrets of resilience — grounded in science, positive psychology and a holistic orientation — that attacks stress at its roots.