Resolving the Stress Cycle 

We all encounter life and work situations that trigger stress. The way we respond to those stressful situations can impact the quality of our life and others around us. Stress is sometimes inevitable, given there are many things outside of our control, but we can choose how to respond to stress. Furthermore, identifying what we can, and cannot, control can help us to mitigate some of those stressors in life. 

What we do after experiencing a stressful event or situation can make a big difference for our overall wellbeing.   

A stress cycle is a natural human cycle that happens in response to a stressor removing us from the resting or ground state and ending with a feeling of security stemming from the fact that we have faced the tense experience and we are now safe. (A.Z. Reznick, 2015) 

Here are six evidence-based tools to help your body to ‘complete’ the stress response cycle: 

Deep belly breathing: Breathing naturally helps us to relax and can decrease the harmful effects of stress hormones on the body. Practice it during or after a stressful event for few minutes to see if it helps calm you down. Here’s a simple format to try breathing in slowly for five seconds, hold that breathe for five more seconds, and exhale for ten seconds. 

Crying: Crying is for everybody. Crying is one of our body’s natural mechanisms to help with stress release. Itis important that we are not embarrassed by our tears, and that we attempt to stop them from coming out. 

Physical activity: If you are able, use your body to release the stress through movement or activities like dancing, running, or swimming.  You could even just try to find somewhere appropriate to stomp your feet, scream, or even punch a pillow. All of this could help find a physical outlet for your stress. 

Creative expression: If you have a creative endeavor that speaks to you, then do it! Things such as painting, singing, writing, playing and instrument, or knitting could be helpful in providing your mind with something else to focus on. 

Laughing: Laughter helps to release tension, especially when you can laugh together with others!  

Physical affection: Find someone you feel safe with to give you a big hug – even time with a loving pet will help! Physical affection can help your body release hormones like oxytocin, which can chase away any sense of danger or stress that your body was holding onto. As our hormones shift, our heart rate slows, and our body begins to feel safe again. 


Rom, O., Reznick, A.Z.  Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 2015