Health & Fitness,  Mindfulness

8 Genius Stress Relief Hacks I Wish I Had Followed Earlier In Life

I wish someone would have told me. The things I needed to know about stress never crossed my path until I almost died. Seriously. Stress can kill. It is one of the biggest killers in the world. Of course, people don’t die from stress, but stress leads to a host of different ailments and diseases in the body, from clogging the arteries to contributing to heart attacks.

What Is Stress?

Stress is a natural response to a situation that occurs. We as humans over the years have evolved to be able to cope with day to day pressures. But, in essence, we should try our best to minimize it as much as possible.

The word stress originates from the Latin word “Stringere”, which means to draw tight.


Stress is defined as a reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body then reacts to these changes with physical, mental and emotional responses. In reality, stress forms a natural part of everyday life and this is why things from our environment such as our thoughts, and even our life changes can cause stress in the body.


Stress can bring on or worsen symptoms or diseases. According to research conducted on the symptoms of stress, it is linked to the 6 leading causes of death- heart disease, cancer, lung disorders, accidents, liver conditions and suicide. Stress has become one of the most serious health issues of the 20th century. This is some scary stuff now, isn’t it?

What are some of the symptoms of stress?

These symptoms might sound like a normal day for some, but if experienced for prolonged periods, it might be time to evaluate and try and minimize the cause of the stress.


  1. Difficulty sleeping or insomnia or possibly excessive sleeping
  2. Easy putting weight on or battling to lose weight
  3. Constant irritability
  4. Panic attacks or feelings of anxiety
  5. Lack of concentration
  6. Constantly tired or feeling overwhelmed
  7. Abuse of substances

There is another thing about stress I’d like to point out. It might interest you to know that not all stress is bad. There is such a thing as helpful stress. Crazy right?


The human body is an amazing organ that is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be a good thing, keeping us alert and motivated.


When someone constantly experiences different challenges and stressors, without any relief, this is when stress becomes a bad thing. Constant exposure to stress without relief can lead to distress, which disturbs the body’s internal balance.

Harmful Stress

Repeated exposure to the stress response is proven to lead to long-lasting psychological and physical health issues. This results in a person becoming overworked and the stress tension continues to build in the body.


The autonomic nervous system in the body will naturally react to a stressful situation and will cause physiological changes which allow the body to combat a stressful situation. This is called the flight or fight response, and it occurs as the body produces adrenaline to prepare for a stressful situation. If a person is experiencing continued stress, the flight or fight response becomes chronically activated, and as a result has terrible effects on the physical and emotional aspects of the body.


Helpful Stress

Previously, stress was a good thing to the body. It served to protect the body as we approached a dangerous situation, because it produces our flight or fight hormone. It’s a natural response to tell the body to run at the first sign of danger. When stress is used at the right times, it increases our awareness and improves our physical performance. It’s the continued exposure to the stress that causes the problems.

More Facts On Stress

  1. Stress is also referred to as a silent killer, as it is linked to the top 6 causes of death, and can also cause blood clots in the body
  2. Stress accounts for 30% of infertility issues in males and females. It can result in spasms in the fallopian tubes, reduce sperm counts and cause erectile dysfunction
  3. Stress can worsen acne in an already breakout prone skin type
  4. Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which can result in an increased weight gain, as well as an accumulation of abdominal fats, and the enlargement of fat cells
  5. Chronic stress can cause the body to go into an inflammatory state, which produces free radicals in the body and can result in damaged cells and disease in the body.

TIP: Laughter is the best medicine for a stressful day, week, month or year. Sometimes it’s hard to laugh, especially when the body is experiencing a stressful condition, but it helps to lower the stress hormone levels in the body and strengthens the immune system while releasing our positive hormones.

What Is Stress Management?

Referred to as a set of techniques which are intended to help effectively deal with stress by analyzing the stressors and taking actions to minimize the effects of the stressors on the body. Unfortunately, stress is unavoidable and aiming to be stress-free is trying to achieve the impossible. However, stress can be managed very simply. And the first step is to identify the cause of the stress and try to minimize it.


Stress comes and goes on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, sometimes in large chunks, and sometimes it is minimal. We tend to just accept stress, rather than focusing on measures to deal with it. This can often lead us to burnout. It is best to formulate a what, how, why and when approach plan to stress. This helps us to understand what we tend to stress about, and sometimes you might find a very common pattern in your causes of stress. It also helps us to distinguish a pattern as to how our body copes with stress, and when we do too.

Action Oriented Approach

This allows you to act and change a stressful situation. It includes things like:

  • Being assertive with clear and effective communication
  • Reducing stimuli that expose us to stressful situations, like the computer or the TV- constantly watching the news around the world can cause stress without you even knowing, and rather taking the time for a little quietness in a busy day
  • Make sure to manage your time effectively. Constant rushing around, and always being on others schedule can cause unnecessary stress in the body. Learn to create boundaries for yourself and others.

Emotional Oriented Approach

  • Positive affirmations and thoughts

Acceptance Oriented Approach

This is used for dealing with stressful situations you cannot control and includes things like:

  • Changing your diet and exercising
  • Using relaxing techniques like yoga, pilates and meditation
  • Talking and expressing your feelings
  • Getting enough sleep and rest for the body

Here Are More Tips For Stress Management

Understand your stress.

Identify your stress sources.

What causes you to be stressed?

Learn to recognize your stress signals.

Recognize your stress strategies.

Incorporate healthy stress management strategies.

And now to the good part. The reason you arrived to this blog post. The stress-relief activities.

Start by being aware of your thoughts. Understand how our thoughts affect our emotions, and these further influence our behavior. Reframing your thoughts can help to manage your emotions and reduce feelings of stress. 

Keep in mind not to judge yourself. Try and eliminate the stress from the body by including some of these techniques.

  1. Tap into your senses– by doing this you will automatically slow down the brain. Spend a minute on the following: what can you see? What can you hear? What can you taste? What can you smell? What are you feeling?
  1. Schedule your time to destress– every day put a little time aside to wind down. This is best done at the end of the day, so you can process all that occurred during the day and helps prepare for a good night’s rest. Learning to manage your time more effectively will reduce stress on the body. Set the limits if you need to, and make sure that if you do not want to do something, you can say no without creating extra stress. Find a good support system, and make sure to spend time with those that do not create stress, and rather make you happy and laugh, as both of these will reduce the effects of stress on the body. A strong support system can improve your resilience to stress. Some friends may be good at listening, while others are good at helping. Providing support to others also helps in reducing stress in the body.
  1. Include alternate therapies– practices like yoga, meditation, body scan techniques, and mindfulness can help slow down your thoughts and bring awareness to the body while reducing psychological stress and anxiety.
  1. Keep positive– accepting that certain circumstances throughout our lives are going to occur, and we cannot change that, however, we can change our approach to these circumstances, and having a positive mindset, and speaking with positive affirmations helps.
  1. Feed your body– not only is it healthy to look after the mind during times of severe stress, but it is also necessary to feed the body well. Most people avoid food during times of great stress, due to the release of our stress hormones adrenaline and cortisone which affects the digestive system. Severe stress can reduce appetite, but the hormone cortisol in the body will cause the body to crave fatty or sugary foods, which will lead to weight gain in the body. A healthy diet during times of stress, with lots of fruits and vegetables, will nourish the body, keeping the energy levels up.
  1. Exercise and muscles– exercise helps to reduce stress and releases happy hormones. Movement for a minimum of 30 minutes 3 times a week helps to combat stress and cancel the negative effects of stress on the body, like the increased waistline due to the increase in the hormone cortisol and the craving for unhealthy foods. Stress causes the muscles in the body to tense up and stretching and exercising helps to release the tension in these muscles. Tense muscles can lead to pain in the body, increased headaches, backache and general tiredness in the body. Focus on releasing tension in each muscle by focusing on the muscle group, tensing the muscles for 5-10 seconds and then releasing the tension.
  1. Sleep– if we are experiencing times of great stress, we tend not to be able to sleep as the mind is so busy and pre-occupied with thoughts. Lacking sleep has a worse effect on stress, as it also contributes to an increased cortisol level, making matters worse. Make sure your routine before you go to sleep is consistent every night, our bodies thrive on routine. Switch off all screens at least 1 hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from the screen suppresses the production of melatonin—the sleep hormone in the body. Use that time to process the stresses of the day. Meditate and wind down for a night of relaxing night sleep. It’s best to cut caffeine intake in the afternoons, and avoid alcohol, as both of these can affect your quality of sleep.
  1. Leisure activities– find time in your life for leisurely activities, which can range anything from walks in nature to reading a book, attending a dance class or watching a comedy show. Green space and fresh air in nature have been studied to boost the mood. When life becomes too full of stress, the first thing people tend to do is to drop their leisurely activities, but this can make stress worse, as you are depriving yourself of an activity that can reduce stress.

If it ever gets too much for you, and you are feeling extremely overwhelmed, start looking around your area for a healthcare practitioner who can help you figure out coping mechanisms that can work for you or book a 1-on-1 coaching call with me here. We can help you to understand the what, why, when and how of the situation and work alongside you in developing a plan of action.

No one should live in a constant state of stress. It’s not healthy for the mind or the body.

**Erica weaves themes of transformative hope and grace-filled leadership into everything she shares on her blog. She’s an author, a speaker, and a life coach, who offers honest encouragement and road-tested wisdom about topics ranging from leadership and lifestyle, to discovering your God-crafted identity, design, and purpose.

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