10 Ways to De-Stress Without Taking Time Off – Part III

This is Part III to a 3 part series. Read Part I here and Part II here!


Stress kills, so the knee-jerk answer to solving stress is simply taking time offreducing commitments, and removing things from your schedule that you want to do. 

There is a place for this in certain situations – like if you’ve gone over the edge and have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndromeadrenal fatigue, or are at your burn-out/breaking point.

But I’m more interested in the differences between people who thrive under extreme stress and those who barely survive under few stressors. And the difference is ultimately, time and time again both in research and common experience, perspective.

How we perceive the stress in our lives creates our stress response, not the stress itself. (Click here to tweet this)


This implies that if we can alter our perception, we can also increase the capacity of stress we can handle at a given time, and pursue more, do more, achieve more. And this is all about optimizing our schedules, tweaking our lives, and developing discipline to get from point A to point B in the healthiest way possible.

I’ll be honest, when I began working with clients on how to eat, move, and live for their best live possible over three years ago, I thought I knew what I was talking about. And I did have an amazing framework and the passion to go with it. But I knew nothing of juggling the day-to-day busy-ness that I understand now.

I lived 3 miles from work, so I cooked lunch at home every day.

I had a cushy job in a place where our monthly bills (including saving $350 per month) totaled $1000.

I got to sleep 9 hours per night, pay $2 for a gallon of raw milk, and play in the woods on a whim.

My point is that while I had some great strategies, I didn’t have the experience to test them in a real-life setting. And quite frankly, some would-be clients went elsewhere when they realized they might have to change their entire lifestyle all at once, something they were unwilling to do.

Since we moved to Boston last August, I’ve learned a lifetime of experience in juggling busy-ness and real-life stress successfully and it completely altered my perception on how to handle stress. Because if you’re like me at all, you appreciate this gift of life and simply want to grab it by the horns. You have goals, aspirations, and dreams. And you understand that none of those things come into fruition from resting 90% of the time.

In fact, I’ve found that people who intentionally clear their schedules to heal from stress and continue in the new schedule for a while actually decrease their ability to handle stress. So when they eat the occasional ice cream, have a crazy week, or need to sleep less for a few days to accomplish a goal, they are unable to without getting sick. So what began as a healthy thing is now the bottleneck in what they seek to accomplish.


Our body responds to how we train it


So I’m sharing the final four ways to de-stress without clearing your schedule and taking time off so you, too, can train your body to handle more stress now through little small things, so that when bigger things arise later (which they most assuredly will), you’ll breeze through it.

Luck favors the prepared mind. -Jim Collins, Great By Choice

We prepare ourselves not through huge transformations all at once, but through practicing daily, small actions that build on themselves. We’ve covered 1-6 in previous posts. (Read Part I here and Part II here). Today, you’ll learn the final four methods and hopefully find one thing you can begin today.

10 Ways to De-Stress Without Taking Time Off

  1. Contrast Showers
  2. Juicy Sex
  3. Peaceful Beating
  4. Optimized Nutrition
  5. Movement
  6. Cloning Yourself
  7. Butterfly Nights
  8. Grateful Drinking
  9. Breathing
  10. Optimized Sleeping


7. Butterfly Nights

PhotoCredit: hspieces.com

I was scared when, six months after marriage, the feelings began to fade. The butterflies-in-your-stomach flutters when I thought about my husband. Most people tried to tell me that this was just part of life. That the feeling will fade and stay gone. But I’ve learned that this isn’t true and that Butterfly Nights, i.e., juicy date nights with your spouse, are of the utmost importance to mitigating life stress.

It’s unfortunate that we take so many people’s excuses for truth. When they tell us “it just gets harder to lose weight as you get older,” “you lose the flutters for your spouse after awhile,” or it’s impossible to do x,y,z thing because it’s too hard. Often, we believe them because we respect them and figure that they’ve been through it, so they have the final word. Are these things true? Maybe, or maybe it takes a different kind of effort to get the desired result, so people either don’t know what it takes or are unwilling to do the work to get there.

Juicy, butterflies-in-your-stomach, can’t-get-enough-of-my-spouse nights (no matter how long you’ve been together) begin in the day(s), week(s), and month(s) before AND they work wonders in reducing stress. You see, when we start perceiving our day-to-day lives as common we show less interest, exert less effort, and expect the same result from the same old thing.

Butterfly nights help us bond, releasing oxytocin, a powerful hormone that glues us together, reduces cortisol, and releases stress. So we get more from 30 quality minutes together, than in a week of unintentional “time together.”

How do you get the feeling back? Follow these steps: 

  1. Begin with intention. Visualize your ideal time together in detail. Ask how can I contribute here?
  2. Name 5 things every single day for which you appreciate your spouse. As you name each thing, take a moment to really feel how amazing it is for this to be your life and your man. 🙂
  3. Give and receive full, long hugs (as in 20-45 seconds) each day. The more the merrier, but at least 1-2 to start! *Practicing your gratefulness during the hug is great!* This step is the secret sauce to regular oxytocin release.
  4. Schedule uninterrupted time together regularly. It doesn’t have to be a whole evening, but starting with 10 minutes is great! This may be rocky at first if you don’t know how to be with each other anymore, but put in the consistent time and it will come! During this time, play a game, tell them your 5 things, and touch each other a lot – holding hands, etc. There are no wrong things here, except watching TV, answering phones, looking at phones, or paying attention to anything else except them. 
  5. Consistently practice the above 4 steps for at least 6 weeks. Why 6 weeks? Well, you didn’t lose the feeling overnight and you won’t get it back overnight either. Change takes TIME through consistently doing the required action that produces the desired results.

The butterflies-in-my-stomach I experience now when I think of Clint are so much better than when we first married. Now I have years of experiencing his commitment, choice, and love to base our relationship on – solid, more grounded experiences. And so while feelings do come and go, the consistent thrill I get in my entire being when I think of my husband now from intentionally implementing the above steps makes life more joyous, less stressful, and easier to handle.


8. Grateful Drinking

PhotoCredit: ironmagazine.com

Practicing gratefulness transforms perception and attitude with less effort & time commitment than anything else on this list. I learned this tip from Mark Divine of SealFit.com. He’s a former Navy Seal, well-versed in handling extreme stress, who trains people to accomplish more than we ever imagined. His secrets have everything to do with gratefulness and dripping meditation in at appropriate times. Interesting, huh?

He recommends beginning the day with a fresh glass of water and visualizing what you are grateful for as you drink the entire glass. 

This is so simple, you must try it!

You see, in our lives we create more of what we focus and dwell on. If we dwell on bad things, we’ll notice more negativity, people out to get us, rudeness, etc. If we focus on good things, we notice more of those in our lives.

Dwelling on what we are grateful for in this simple way is an amazingly easy and effective way to develop discipline for later and de-stress!

Oh, did I mention this reduces excess cortisol? Yep, practicing gratefulness reduces the chronic stress response, allowing us to handle more and thrive! 

Enjoy that glass!


9. Breathing

Photo Credit: LittlePearlPublishing.com

You can live over a month without food and three days without water, but you cannot survive 10 minutes without breathing. Most people breath into their chest instead of their diaphragms though, creating more stress in their bodies. When we learn to breath correctly, we are empowered with the ability to instantly reduce stress, anxiety, and lower our heart rate on command.

That’s pretty powerful stuff! This is basically what our #3 tip with the HeartMath machine allows us to do, except this is through conscious effort and the machine provides instant biofeedback to your progress.

Learning to breath into our diaphragm and pelvis reduces cortisol, strengthens our core, and is one of my beloved “kill multiple birds with one stone” methods! 

Check out this post on Molly Galbraith’s site all about how to breath incorrectly and correctly and step-by-step instructions and modifications (on video). 

I think you’ll enjoy this tutorial as much as I have AND see the transformation in your stress load and life after a few sessions!


10. Optimized Sleep

Photo credit: parentingwithpresence.net

Learning to sleep deeper for a shorter amount of time is pivotal to doing more with less stress. Quality sleep is more important in body composition, how frequently you get sick, fat loss, exercise recovery, and stress recovery than any other thing you can do. It’s that important. Yet the common recommendation is simply to block off those 7-9 (10?) hours of time and stick to it.

The problem arises when a person adjusts to sleeping more and then must sleep less for a goal, a baby, or an upcoming deadline. Sleeping less train wrecks them.

I’ve experienced this firsthand myself and was amazed at the transformation and increase in time I now enjoy as I have trained my body to get better sleep in less time. So whatever time I have to sleep, 5 hours or 9 hours, I get consistent high-quality sleep that refreshes, restores, and rejuvenates me for my 55+ hour a week schedule.

I learned this strategy over at BulletproofExec.com, so I’m excited to share this digest of how to optimize your sleep to de-stress without taking time off! 🙂


Your perception of stress will transform by putting just one of these strategies into practice. That is your assignment for today:

  1. Pick one way to put into practice immediately. 
  2. Declare your intention in the comments section below. Allow it to keep you accountable! 🙂
  3. Share your experience in the comments on how a seemingly small thing in your past added up to BIG results in the future.



Gerilyn Burnett liberates women from the downward spiral of ever-increasing responsibility and stress without self-care to experience more ENERGY, more VITALITY, and a fitter body permanently! She trains women (& some awesome men) all over the world how to eat, move, and live for their best mind, body, and life! Her own journey from miserable, fat, stuck, and tired to fit, confident, vibrant, and delicious make her uniquely suited for this mission! She has a knack for creating contagious healthy experiences and providing the needed support and accountability that turn diets into lifestyles and dreams into realities. Get started on your journey to vibrant vitality for life here

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