• Stephanie Sullivan

Top 10 Tips For Relieving Acute Stress

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Despite your best efforts to reduce demands and stress triggers from your environment, inevitably stress will arise at times, as we cannot completely control or eliminate it. The good news is that there are effective ways to reduce your feelings of stress. One of my clients once said to me “I don’t know how to turn off stress, but I do know how to turn on relaxation”. This is great! What she did not realise is that you actually turn off stress by turning on relaxation, because it is physically impossible for your body to be in a stressed and relaxed state at the same time. Below are my top 10 tips for reducing your feelings of stress in your mind and body.

1) Breathe – Breathe! Breathing is one of the quickest and most effective ways to reduce stress. With approximately one minute of simple, deep breathing, you can effectively turn off the stress response in your body (physiologically), slowing your breathing and heart rate, decreasing your blood pressure, relaxing your muscles, and moving into a relaxed state. One of the easiest breathing techniques is the 5-5-7 method. Simply breathe in deeply through your nose while you count to five, then hold the breath while you count to 5, then exhale slowly through your nose while you count to seven. Doing this five times takes ~45 seconds, and ten times is ~90 seconds.

2) Self appreciation / reassurance — Stress can arise when we feel overwhelmed, or feel unsure in our ability to handle a situation. Therefore, it is helpful to reassure and remind ourselves that we are capable of handling the situation. Try thinking about a time or example when you previously handled a stressful situation well. Say to yourself, I have encountered something like this before and I can handle this. Even if you have not encountered something similar before, you can still reassure yourself and instil confidence in your ability to handle the situation by just saying aloud “I can do this, I have got this!”

3) Practice empathy – If there is someone involved in triggering your stress, try to think of that person in a different light (with empathy instead of anger or frustration). Try to think of what may be going on in their world or mind. Some examples might include “they must be having a difficult time as well”, or “they may be having a difficult day”, or “may they are hurting or unsure of themselves”, or “someone else may be putting stress on them and so they really just need some help or reassurance”.

4) Go for a walk – If there is a stressful situation happening around you, going for a walk is a great way to remove yourself temporarily to have a break, get some fresh air, burn some energy, defuse, gather your thoughts, increase endorphins (“feel good” chemicals in your brain), and return in a much better state of mind.

5) Get outside (fresh air, nature and sunshine) – Even if you are only sitting outside, getting some fresh air and sunshine is great for stress relief. Sunshine provides valuable vitamin D to help lift your mood. The new surroundings and natural environment can help change your focus and thoughts. Focus on the new sensations surrounding you (sounds, smells, warmth, light, colours, trees, birds, insects, etc.).

6) Relax — There are a few other great things you can do to relax and reduce your stress. Taking a nice warm bath or shower can help relax both your body (muscles) and mind. You can also use a nice relaxing and calming scent (like lavender or wild orange) from bath salts, a candle, or diffusing essential oils. Or, just a few minutes of meditation can calm the stress response in your body and mind. Another option is using a sounds machine to induce some relaxation, using sounds of nature, or relaxing music or tones. Or, you can get into your favourite relaxing or calming yoga pose, or if you are unsure just google “yoga poses for stress” and have a look at the top 1-5 and pick one to try.

7) Engage in pampering touch — Do something which involves comforting or loving touch, which may include things such as massage, sex, manicure/pedicure, or cuddling with a partner, child, or pet.

8) Listen to Music – Put on some music which makes you feel good (energetic, inspired, uplifted, or relaxed).

9) Call a friend or family member to vent or ask for help or advice – Sometimes just voicing your frustrations to someone else who cares about you can help relieve your stress. And even better, sometimes they can offer a different perspective, a helpful idea, or kind words to reassure you and diffuse the situation, or they may even offer to help out with something, or just meet up for a coffee/tea to connect (bonus!).

10) Create some fun/laughter – Put a funny movie or comedy show on the TV, and have a laugh. Laughter and fun are great ways to relieve stress. Have some fun and laughter with your children or pets, playing at a local park, beach, swim centre, or at home. Something as simple as making “funny faces” can bring some quick silliness and laughter into your home.

Most importantly, do not stress yourself out by trying to do every single thing in this list of tips! That is definitely not the intention. Effective change happens by picking one or two small things that you can realistically implement, then once you are successful with those, pick another one to add to your routine and toolkit. This is known as “habit stacking”, and is one of the most effective ways to implement effective and lasting results.

If you want to be proactive about trying to stop stress before it starts and best prepare yourself to handle unexpected or demanding situations, please see my Top 10 Tips for Proactively Preventing Stress. (

Steph Sullivan is a dual certified Life and Health Coach and founder of Elevate Your Life Coaching PTY LTD. After 23 years in demanding, high-stress corporate roles as a business consultant then a corporate executive, now Steph’s purpose is helping people to reduce stress and increase energy to achieve their personal goals and life ambitions.



Note: This article is also published at The Natural Parent Magazine: Top 10 Tips for Relieving Acute Stress – The Natural Parent Magazine

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