How to Recover From Stress Faster



Marina McLennan, personal fitness trainer and founder of Exercise Rhymes®.



Stress seems to be an unavoidable part of our modern culture. While we find ways to reduce our stress, we also need to increase our ability to recover from our body’s physiological stress response. Gone are the days when our stress hormones kicked in when we were in real mortal danger, like being chased by a wild animal. Being late for ballet or little league practice puts us into fight or flight mode, forcing our bodies to continuously deal with a stress response. We all know the story of The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf. We are all crying “wolf” to our bodies in our reactions to everyday stressors.




Can We Learn to Recover from Stress Faster?



Not only is exercising a great way to use up excess energy that builds up in our sedentary modern lifestyles, short bursts of high intensity exercise (intervals) help to train the body to recover from stress faster. When we push ourselves during exercise for short bursts that come close to our maximum (starting with 30 seconds), and then allow ourselves to catch our breath, we are teaching our heart and lungs to recover from stress. We can then progressively increase the duration of the intervals (from 30 to 90 seconds) and decrease the duration of the rests (from 3 minutes down to 30 seconds). Start with a 5 minute warm up, then do the interval/recovery pattern for about 15 minutes and then cool down for 5 minutes. Do this type of interval training only twice a week to not overburden the body.



These types of high intensity intervals literally train our bodies to recover faster from stress. It takes less and less time for our heart rate to come down after each burst. These intervals send signals to the body to distribute oxygen in a more effective manner, helping us throughout the day. The next time we are caught in traffic and find our pulse rising and our breathing labored, we can bring our heart rate back down to normal quicker than without the high intensity training.



Dr. Mercola also explains how these intervals help to stimulate human growth hormone that enables us to reverse the aging process:




Deep breathing is Key to Reducing Stress



In addition, by taking longer, deeper breaths into the diaphragm (just above the belly button), we can reduce our stress response. Deep slow breathing is the easiest and fastest way to decrease the amount of stress hormones surging through the body in a stressful situation.



When we find ourselves in a stressful situation, we can always choose whether to continue the stress hormones. We can think thoughts that keep us stressed out such as “I hate being late,” “I’m always making this mistake,” or “My kids are always fighting.”



We can also interrupt this thinking and choose to think thoughts that allow us to accept and move beyond the situation such as “This too shall pass,” “What can I learn from this situation?,” or “Is this really worth being stressed out?” Finding a way to find humor in the situation is a great way to help dissipate those stress hormones.






While we cannot eliminate all stress from our lives, with high intensity fitness training, deep breathing, conscious thought and humor, we can recover from stress faster and reduce its harmful effects on our bodies.



Disclaimer: Always consult your health care provider before starting an exercise program.


Marina McLennan is a Certified Personal Trainer and founder of Exercise Rhymes®, dedicated to helping adults and children have fun exercising together. Marina studied dance for 15 years, yoga for 10 years, and is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and certified Mini Yogis® instructor. Marina has experience teaching kids dance/movement, yoga and preschool. See or contact Marina at

(Photo credit: Dave Chapman, photographer)



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