Part 4: 12 Accessible, Achievable Tips To Relieve Stress

We all know the benefits of exercise. If you’ve read any of my articles on adopting an achievable exercise program that works, you already know it trumps food as the number one way to increase longevity, lose or maintain weight, and combat disease. Exercise is good. Really good.

But in our over-stressed, “always doing” society, we turn the benefits of exercise into a double-edged sword. Doing only intense cardio or high intensity training can force your body into a state of being over-stressed and unable to function normally, repairing itself as is intended.

In this series on stress, we have seen these negative effects on three women, Janene, Kim, and Lisa and how the stress in their lives is actually causing their well-intentioned exercise programs to backfire. (You can read parts 1, 2, and 3 here.) Maybe you see yourself or parts of you in one or all of them.

Thirty minutes a day is the recipe for success for all of us, but be mindful of the type and intensity of your preferred method and take stock of your stress. You can scale back to mobility or a Flow for a few days before you jump back into high-intensity work.

One sure way to know if your cortisol levels are too high too long is to get them checked by a medical doctor who will do a salivary cortisol test, not a regular lab test. Also, is your energy level very low in the morning and seems to increase around bedtime? Then your cortisol is probably off kilter.

Below I’m offering a solution. It’s never too late.

There are only two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
– Albert Einstein

1. Learn how to breathe.

We breathe 16 breaths per minute. This means we breathe about 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year. If we cut this short with neck or chest breathing, or by holding our breath thereby unconsciously robbing our body of essential oxygen-producing breaths, repair and recovery is nearly impossible. Breathing is believed to be the top rehabilitation program.


2. Take regular planned breaks from intense training.

Give your body the break it needs for recovery, muscle building, and fat burning. “Rest” is not a bad word. It’s when you burn FAT!


3. Stop multi-tasking.

Our brains are not computers. They operate best with one activity and thought at a time.


4. Get sufficient and quality sleep.

Turn your bedtime into your most important appointment of the day. When we sleep, we burn fat and build muscle. That should be enough reason! 😉


5. Learn to meditate.

There a several great apps out there to use. HeartMath is one of my favorites. Meditation has been proven to reduce the level of stress hormones and makes you more focused. Better yet, check out “compassion meditation.”


6. Consume your calories from non-processed sources.

Sugar can exacerbate any stressed-out system.


7. Take a digital vacation.

Not only does the blue light kill your sleep pattern, our devices do a number on our shoulders, necks, elbows, and hands.


8. Embrace silence.

It increases your brain’s capacity.


9. Ditch negative self-talk.

It takes 20 positive thoughts to erase a negative one!


10. Practice gratefulness and discover joy.

Studies show it works!

11. Get a pet.

Pet owners have less stress than others.


12. Learn how to practice mobility and flexibility drills

And use to complement your workouts. If you are a runner, open up those hips. If you are a mountain climber, get those shoulder in tip-top shape.


As with anything, the all or nothing approach never works. Start today with one or two of the and embrace them as part of the new YOU.


  • The latest from Adrien
Adrien founded Fitness on the Run in 2004 out of her home after a successful career in policy and public affairs communications. After spending 15 years developing her own personal definition of wellness and watching thousands struggle with theirs, in January 2019 Adrien founded Alexandria Wellness, the home for the Concierge Wellness Program and Corporate Wellness with Adrien Cotton. Over the course of 15 years, “FOR” was home to more than 2,000 clients, 30 instructors, and hundreds of inspirational success stories. Adrien is now, more-than-ever, passionate about helping women view their fitness as a journey, not a quick fix. Adrien’s recipe for success herself has evolved from a rigid training plan of sweaty and heart pumping workouts to some days getting in her 10,000 steps, consciously breathing, her 7.5 hours of sleep, and her beloved 5-Minute Flow. Adrien believes the most important ingredient is making small changes for big results, even if it’s one new habit formed each month. Still passionate about fitness, Adrien’s clients appreciate her ability to make sessions seriously challenging without a “beat down,” a healthy mix of strength and metabolic (cardio) work and ultimately helping her clients gain real strength in mind and body. She believes we all benefit from being curious about our bodies and that change, or improvement, is within reach despite what your “inner voice” or others may tell you. Adrien is bubbling with excitement to help women learn the importance of a comprehensive approach to wellness, weight loss, and contentedness with yourself, and that every person has the right to feel good about themselves. Most days, you can find her helping clients with their wellness, listening to success stories, and bragging about her twin 13-year-old children and “fittest man in Alexandria” Bill Cotton. Adrien prides herself on her practice of mindfulness, meditation, and putting it all into perspective.

Alexandria Wellness offers achievable answers for anyone who is tired of chasing fitness and health without a clear plan, someone who has struggled and is not satisfied with their fitness and wellness or someone who is open to maximized healthful longevity and fitness along with healthful weight loss. Adrien and her team offer help with food guidance, body acceptance, sleep and stress issues, and insist you have fun along the way.

Schedule your free 30 minute consult here!

Alexandria Wellness
215 North Payne Street
Alexandria, VA 22314




  1. Avatar Sara Gorman says:

    Love this article! I’m a health blogger, as well as an entrepreneur, and will definitely link to these tips. Thanks so much for breaking stress-relief into easy and manageable steps.

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