9 Quick Ways To Relieve Stress

Apr 1, 2016 | Stress

Quick ways to relieve stress in the moment

When you need a quick way to blow off some stress and shift the mood…

Don’t tell me to calm down!

Sometimes when you’re really stressed, angry or upset, even though you know some calming activity like meditation or deep breathing might help, you just can’t get there.

Sometimes you are so upset or stressed that you can’t just decide to start chilling out. It’s like when you’re really worked up and someone tells you to calm down – pretty annoying, right?

As I know from my coaching and experience, when emotions and stress are high, you can’t always slow down and calm down in the moment. Sometimes you might just need a quick release or shift of energy.

And in that spirit, here are some different ways – if not funny or crazy ways – to quickly release some steam.

9 ways to relieve stress – now!

  1. Vent. Venting can be emotionally cathartic and can help bring you back to neutral. Get it out of your head and off your chest. Though you may want to direct it at a person, screaming into the silence is a safer release. (For the virtues and vices of venting, check out this article in Psychology Today.)
  2. Write it down. Write a letter expressing your emotions, but don’t send it. (If you do want to publish the words, there’s actually an online community journal for expressing your stress, anger, or frustration.)
  3. Swear. A study from the UK actually found that people who swore while being subjected to pain not only reported less pain but also endured the pain longer than those who spoke something neutral. And guess what? There’s actually a German hotline for swearing to a neutral person over the phone, called “Schimpf-los” which means “swear away” in German. Apparently, when callers need some prodding, hotline operators will taunt them to raise the bar on their anger or swearing. (I’m not sure if you need to speak German, but you do need to make your venting snappy, as calls cost 1.49 euros a minute.)  …This hotline reminds me of the Argument Clinic, a Monty Python sketch about people paying to have an argument. Laughter is a great stress reliever – see my previous post “Laugh Your Way to Less Stress And A Better Brain” – so check out the sketch on Youtube if you have a few minutes.
  4. Exercise. Do something that gets the heart pumping and challenges you. Exercise boosts endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. It also helps you sleep, which can be difficult during stressful times. Having an exercise goal or competing against someone is particularly good and can also improve self-confidence.
  5. Do something out of the blue to lighten the mood. Recently in the middle of a dispute with someone, I suddenly started laughing. It totally changed the mood and the argument. If you can’t seem to laugh in the moment, you can make a funny face or a silly gesture. (I guess I’m in the mood for Monty Python, because I’m thinking of the silly walk sketch – so ridiculous you have to laugh!)
  6. Create a nonsense word or phrase to make light of the situation. The comedienne Tina Fey describes a word like this that she made up in her book Bossypants: “’Blorft’ is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.”
  7. Get a hug. Research has shown that hugging a loved one increases the hormone oxytocin, which lowers blood pressure and reduces stress.
  8. Blow bubbles. Borrow your child’s jar of bubbles or chew some bubble gum and blow. Making bubbles is a fun and easy way to deepen your breath, which slows down the stress response, and shift your attention to the present moment.
  9. Eat chocolate. If all else fails, there always chocolate. In case you need a reason to eat chocolate, research has shown that chocolate significantly reduced stress in women. Perhaps better news for chocolate lovers: this stress-buster may require regular intake as study participants consumed 40 grams over 2 weeks!

What’s your favorite stress-buster?

What will you do to change it up the next time you are feeling “blorft” or so stressed that you can’t calm down?

If you enjoyed the post and have a friend who might benefit, please pass along using one of the icons at the bottom.

Now I’m going to do a silly walk – because, why not? – and then replenish my chocolate supply!

Photo: “Bubbles” by Kate Zaidova at unsplash.com. 


  1. Erin

    I had never seen the Silly Walks sketch before and just watched it, and I am absolutely going to try that next time I feel furious! Especially if it’s during an argument with one of my teenagers. I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks so much for this post ?

  2. Jen

    That’s great! I love it.


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Jennifer is the creator of Pathways to Change, a framework for mindful leadership development that integrates coaching, neuroscience, mindfulness and mind-body principles.

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