10 Ways to De-Stress Without Taking Time Off

Let’s be real. Who really has the time to de-stress appropriately? Taking all nights and weekends off, taking 4-6 vacations a year, spending 30 minutes a day in meditation, exercising 5 times a week, cooking every meal, sleeping 7-9 hours every night, juicing every day – these are great goals, but the overwhelming nature of implementing such drastic changes – even one of them – stops most women in their tracks before they even get going.


Source: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lq6hnqgGkj1r1uog4o1_500.jpg

Source: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lq6hnqgGkj1r1uog4o1_500.jpg

Is it possible to de-stress in the midst of your hectic schedule? Can you thrive in spite of your busy-ness? Is there a way to have your cake and eat it too?

I think so. And I’ve figured out ten of the best ways to do it. Simple things you’re already making time for that can be amped up, rotated, or performed differently to produce a drastically different result. First, I’ll share my experience de-stressing the “right way.” Then, we’ll define stress and offer another perspective. And finally, I’ll share my top 10 ways that I maintain a fit body, vibrant health, and juicy marriage in spite of my demanding schedule. You can immediately pick one of these things to put into practice and experience better results in your own life too! 

(Note: What follows is not for people who have been diagnosed with some form of advanced stress, i.e., ‘adrenal fatigue,’ extremely high cortisol, etc. There IS a time to STOP and if we do not rest at the appropriate time, well, we’ll take rest later when our body FORCES us to.)


Why Does De-Stressing Take All This Time???

I used to think the only way to de-stress was to take loads of time off, to practice meditation every day for hours, and to practice affirmations 24/7. I LOVED my 9 hours of sleep each night, swam in my Paleo, organic, home-cooked meals, and was a stickler about my “me-time.” 

All of these things are GREAT practices. Rejuvenating, refreshing, nourishing practices. The problem arises when the time devoted to the practices begins hindering the living part of life. 

Which reminds me of my reasons for switching to lifting weights as my primary form of training instead of long-slow distance running, and switching to eating a nutrient-dense, real food, grain-free diet instead of my former raw vegan dietboth of these swaps produced more and better results with less time commitment and total effort expended.

Can you tell I like efficiency? 

So earlier this year I began a quest to figure out how to thrive in a packed schedule without burning out. This is a reality for 90% of women in 2013 who wear so many hats we just can’t keep them straight, so I thought it might be helpful for you to know how I do it.

First, know that I’ve done it “the right way.” I spent a whole year exploring de-stressing, working only part-time, delving inward, exploring, resting, rejuvenating, sleeping, and it’s fantastic if you have no goals or ambitions in life. OR if your life ambition is to spend all of your time alone.

  • If you are doing these things, I am NOT attacking you or telling you to stop doing them. In fact, it warms my heart that you are taking time for you – something women often only do when forced. What I’m talking about is allowing these practices to consume and control our lives… where every goal, every extra thing in our schedule, and every activity is contingent on our having done x, y, z practice today. Make sense? 

I realized this January that I didn’t like the results my way of life produced. I didn’t like the barely scraping by financially, I didn’t like how my body was clear and focused for only 6-10 hours a day, I didn’t like how everything I pursued in life rotated around sleeping 9 hours every single night… or else.


What is stress?

oldladyyoungwomanStress is a state of mind that protects us from hurting ourselves. The stress response begins with how our brains perceive our surroundings and going ons in life. Then, a physiological response is produced in response to that perception

The physiological response is where we see elevated cortisol, fight or flight responses, and elevated blood sugar in the short-term and decreased sex hormones, excess belly fat, and insulin resistance in the long-term.

When we perceive danger, our bodies amp up the fight or flight response to initiate action and inhibit us from standing still and being hurt. When we view our day-to-day activities in the same light, our bodies produce the same response… yet we continue in the same situations and cause a great short-term response to morph into a damaging long-term reality for many people today.

Maybe it would be ideal to remove yourself from your “dangerous” situation of driving in rush hour traffic, working a overly-demanding career, hauling kids from school to Timbuktu, and eating out every meal, but are you really going to do all that? 

No, for whatever reason, you are invested in your life and it’s unlikely that you’ll make any big changes until it hurts more to stay where you are than to do something different. 


On the flip-side, what if you go through your day not perceiving rush hour to be a big deal, understanding the demands of your job and  eagerly accepting them, joyfully hauling your kids from activity to activity, not feeling anxious 24/7, and loving every part of your life? Would this change your physiological stress response??? 


Your perception of reality dictates your physiological stress response. 

Which is how Navy SEALS undergo enormous amounts of stress that would cripple most folks. It’s not because they are inherently “gifted” or different than you and I, but that they have developed a capacity to handle more and more stress without ill effects.

It’s because they train to perceive enormous stress as normal and ‘not a big deal.’ 

We can do the same thing.

Because for me, going from working 20 hours a week to 50+ hours a week was stretching my capacity just a bit. Still exercising regularly, eating nutritious high quality food, and spending quality time with my husband (including sex), and remaining peaceful and joyful could have been deal-breakers.

But I love what I do, I was ready to do whatever it takes to build our dream life, and I was ready to perceive stress differently. 

The following list are things that I have personally integrated into my normal, every-day routine, and a few things that work well for my clients. I’ll dig into exactly how to do each practice and make it work for you over the next few posts. Today, we’ll cover 1, 2, and 3. So, without further adieu…

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


1. Contrast Showers

Alternating hot/cold water cycles in the shower immediately upon waking is the hands-down-best-better-than-coffee way I start every day energized, refreshed, thankful, and grateful for my life and all of my blessings.

Plus, you get added health benefits, like a slightly faster metabolism, taut skin, and increased capacity to handle discomfort (i.e., stress).

Here’s how to start: 

  1. Commit to 10 seconds 1x. Doing contrast showers is all about deception! Tricking yourself, that is, to handle the cold for a very short amount of time. For example, although I am up to 90 seconds per cycle for four cycles (from 10 seconds per cycle for three cycles), I STILL trick myself every single time with the following words to myself, “Gerilyn, I know you don’t want to do four cycles today, so it’s okay. All you have to do is 10 seconds, ONCE, and then turn the hot water back on. Just 10 seconds. You can do that, right?” “Yes, I can do 10 seconds,” I tell myself. 
  2. Count “1-Mississippi, 2-Mississippi, 3-Mississippi…” for the 10 seconds, the turn the hot water back on for 10-20 seconds.
  3. Repeat 3-4x.
  4. Finish with hot water and get out of the shower!
  5. Spend 4-7 days on each cycle. For example, if you start with 10 seconds, do 10 second cycles for up to a week before trying 15 second cycles, and so on. Why do more when you can do less for the same results????
  6. Start slow and work your way up to 60-120 seconds per cycle for 4-6 cycles. Eventually, you want to finish your shower on the last cold cycle.


2. Juicy Sex

Source: http://wpdev.theheartdiary.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/5.jpg

One of the best ways to reduce cortisol is to participate in juicy sex 2-3x per week. And not just the sex part, but orgasm. This isn’t “mercy sex” for your spouse, or teenage “wham-bam-thank-you-mam” sex to get it over as quickly as possible. No, I’m talking about quality, fully-in-the-moment-(not thinking about your to-do list)-enjoyable sex.

If you think it’s awkward that a sweet little Christian girl like me is talking so openly about sex and orgasm, well, it’s time to open the conversation and stop viewing sex and bad, wrong, and dirty… even among married couples. The church as a whole has only talked about sex in a condescending way for the past thousands of years without also showing what is possible with God’s view of sex. And although sex is a very private and intimate experience, we should want it, desire it, and enjoy it.

A great way to build this deep connection with your spouse is through orgasmic meditation. This practice will completely transform your relationship, deepen your bond, and explode your experience. I no longer tolerate the idea that it’s normal to lose the sensation associated with new sex in a relationship… that it’s normal for it to lessen as we age in our marriage.

Nicole Daedone coined the term “orgasmic meditation” and has written books, guides, and courses -some free, some not – on how to do this yourself. Check out her site to download her free guide now.


3. Peaceful Beating

Voila_Capture321Much of your physiology, even the “automatic” part, is under your control. This is especially true with your heart beat. You can control your stress response by slowing your heart beat in the midst of stressful situations.

This handy device allows you to train your body to be peaceful in periods of high stress – such as rush hour traffic. It travels with you anywhere, even in traffic, and you simply practice “getting in the green.”

So if you don’t have time to take time off, this is a strategy that can work wonders to help you replicate the benefits of taking time off in the midst of a stressful situation. Get HeartMath® emWave 2

Oh, and there’s an iPhone app now too.


In Part II, we’ll dig into practical strategies to implement 3-4 more practices to thrive in stress.


Your Vitality Assignment

  1. Which practice popped out to you today? 
  2. Take 5 minutes to learn more about it and strategize on how you can practice it this week. Schedule it, if necessary.
  3. Only do the one small thing each day or a few times a week. Require nothing else of yourself.
  4. Report on your results!



What do you think about de-stressing? What has worked for you in the past and what is one strategy from today that you think, “I can do that!” I’d LOVE to hear about it, so leave a thoughtful comment below sharing your tips.

If this article helped you, go ahead and share it with your circle of influence. Your impact changes lives.


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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