5 Simple Stress Relief Tips

03.03.15 Learn Blog SumoSalad

Modern living has a very different set of stressors than those of our ancient predecessors, yet our biochemistry knows no differently.  When we encounter stress our bodies release cortisol, our adrenalin kicks in, our breathing shallows and our heart rate increases enabling us to physically respond quickly. The reaction we have is a fight or flight response; either choosing to stick around to take on the situation or decide that is is all too much to handle and run like crazy! Historically our stressors could have included a giant T-rex, but these days it might be as simple as thinking about how to celebrate a birthday!

This built in fight or flight response cannot identify the difference between our stressors and often instead of helping us it makes matters worse causing headaches, lack of focus, depression, anxiety and other unwanted changes to our wellbeing. Needless to say, we all want to avoid as much stress as we possibly can in life!

They're no longer stressing us out, but we still react to daily life in a similar way!

They’re no longer stressing us out, but we still react to daily life in a similar way!

While we sometimes have curve balls that take the wind out of our sails, learning to manage stress is key to a happy and healthy life. Knowing your triggers and having tools and to diffuse and de-stress will ensure you are able to cope as best as possible.

I have had some hectic curve balls and experiences of my own that have tested my ability to deal with high and at times ongoing levels of extreme stress. Here are some of the best stress relief tips I have found to unwind and make sure I stick around for the fight, not the flight.


We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth. – Virginia Satir

Giving someone (or even a pet) a heartfelt hug is one of the simplest ways to shift your mood. Make sure you genuinely stop, be present and hold the hug breathing into it for at least 10 seconds. This will induce the release of oxytocin also known as our happy and love hormone. The more oxytocin our body releases, the easier we are able to handle life’s stressors.

Grab a soft toy and give it a squeeze!

Grab a soft toy and give it a squeeze!

My children and I are hugging masters; hugs are a constant and abundant in our daily lives; our dance of life. In fact the three of us are modern day hippies at heart and are proud to confess we also hug trees! It may sound a bit crazy, but I assure you it is actually worth it. Nature is powerful, and can transcend mood and diffuse stress (as you’ll see in my next tip).

Want more on the science of hugging? Check out this article.


Lose the shoes, hug a tree and immerse in nature

Science has discovered that both exercising around trees and simply looking at trees reduces blood pressure as well as cortisol and adrenalin (the hectic stressor chemicals that put us into flight or fight).

Even looking at a picture of trees can help!

Stressed? Imagine how this guy feels.

Stressed? Imagine how this guy feels.

Breathing in the air around trees has added health benefits by boosting our immune system.

Being in nature helps us focus. When we immerse ourselves in it life slows down and we are more likely to gain clarity.


There is not a lot in life that beats a great belly laugh

It is well known that laughter is a priceless medicine for curing many moods, awkward situations, aiding your health and making people feel connected. What’s more, is that it’s contagious!

I have my own collection of “funny friends” and they’re on speed dial for those moments in life when I need to take a step back and uplift my mood with a brilliant belly laugh.

It's ok to be silly. Or hairy. Or both.

It’s ok to be silly. Or hairy. Or both.

Most of us have “funny friends” but if you don’t or you can’t get in touch with them , there are plenty of other ways to get a laugh:

  • Find a funny video online, or your favourite comedy show or movie
  • Use “Dr. Google” for something useful and look up some of the funniest jokes ever told
  • Visualise a great time in your life, when you laughed so hard tears were rolling down your cheeks. Remember how you felt, see the moment and feel it. This exercise will help change your biochemistry and help you realise that you can have the ability to experience that same happy feeling anytime.


The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. – Buddha

Today we live in an exciting time that recognizes the absolute necessity and value of living mindfully and being present. Science, government, corporations, education systems and the general population are spending time and money to educate on living in the now.

As many of our great predecessors have emphasized, we often make our present situation worse by worrying about things that have happened the past. It’s important to move on! History is just that; HISTORY.

Stuck in a rut? Get out there and move! Source: Run 4 Bionic Runner

Stuck in a rut? Get out there and move! Source: Run 4 Bionic Runner

Easier said than done? We are all prone to being distracted by the story in our heads. Becoming present is a practice that we can all learn. Some of my favourite tools that aid me in remaining ‘present’ are:

  • Breath work – as simple as 5 slow deep breaths in and out through your nose
  • Meditation – can be done anywhere any time, even 5 minutes can make a difference
  • Mantra – have a mantra you can repeat. An example could be, “I feel present and calm”
  • A dip in the ocean– this is brilliant if you can do it ! Refreshing, revitalizing and brings you straight into the now. No beach? Try a quick cold shower
  • Take off your shoes – this instantly helps shift your mindset and can also encourage creativity
  • A mental body scan – Check within yourself: where are you, how does your body feel?
  • Get moving – walk, run, exercise. This is my favourite and will not only have you feeling present but will also release happy hormones improving both your mental and physical health
  • Step outside – look at the world and get back in touch with nature 


Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough – Oprah Winfrey

I would like to think that I am the kind of person who always finds the silver lining and counts my blessings. However over recent years I have become very aware of the difference of being grateful and effectively practicing gratitude.

Gratitude and mindfulness go hand in hand. As you read this, millions of dollars and hours of research are being put into revealing more of the benefits of practicing gratitude.

Some of the proven benefits are:

  • Immediate gain of perspective
  • Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More joy, optimism, and happiness
  • Acting with more generosity and compassion
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated

Gratitude can be practiced anywhere and at any time.My children and I start and end the day by discussing something that we have gratitude for. It is fun, unifying and always makes us feel very lucky to live the lives that we have.

Fill a jar with your gratitude & remind yourself when you need it most! Source: http://appreciationstation.com.au/

Fill a jar with your gratitude & remind yourself when you need it most! Source: http://appreciationstation.com.au/

Some ways to incorporate gratitude into your day:

  • On waking take a moment to lay still and focus on 3 key things you are grateful, repeat this at bedtime
  • Create a house gratitude board that everyone can contribute to
  • Take it to the next level and make an “Appreciation Station”
  • When facing something overwhelming take a breath and think of 1-3 (or more, depending on the stress level) things that you are grateful for
  • Share the love! Acknowledge people, use your manners and say a simple, “thanks”

We tend to endure stupendous amounts of unnecessary stress in our lifetime. I hope that with these tips and tools you are able to de-stress and stick in these for the “fight” as much as possible.


Hugs, laughter, presence and gratitude,


Want more Kerrie? Check out her tips to achieving your goals this year.

Did you know: You can also de-stress at SumoSalad with our Stress Relief salad, part of the limited time ‘Lift Your Mood’ range.

POSTED BY: Kerrie Otto de Grancy

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