Skip to main content

Five Tension Tamers To Help Ease Stress

Apr 28, 2023 ● By Meena Malhotra, M.D.
Legs walking up stairs.

Photo by Siam for Adobe Stock

Stress is ubiquitous. The release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol help us cope with immediate challenges. But when the level of stress becomes chronic or goes beyond what our bodies can handle, it can compromise physical, emotional and mental well-being, which makes it harder to handle future stress.

These quick and simple tips make it easy for us to change our response to stressors and live a more positive, fulfilling life. Using these techniques can help train our bodies how to react to friendly and not-so-friendly stressors. Tension tamers can assist in turning off the alarm response and turning on the relaxation response, which helps us return to normal functioning following a stressful event.

Breathe from the BellySit in a comfortable position and take a few deep breaths by expanding the belly, rather than lifting the shoulders. Releasing physical tension and increasing oxygen intake calms us quickly, even if stressful events continue.

Spring into Action

Change the scenery and change our perspective, indoors or outdoors. Walking gets our blood circulating and helps us blow off steam so we can return to a new frame of mind. Even a short burst of exercise like running up several flights of stairs or doing several sets of push-ups or abdominal crunches can reduce stress. Exercise helps deliver more oxygen to the brain and distracts us from stress to provide a fresh perspective on the situation. Even simple stretching can help bring a little relief.

Take a Break

Whether we listen to music, dance or enjoy a hearty laugh, it is calming for our nerves. Softer music, alone or combined with yoga, guided imagery or soaking in the tub can help relax tense muscles. Upbeat music can help lift our mood or keep us energized. Dancing to a favorite tune or singing along can transport us to a stress-free zone. We can move our gaze away from a workstation to visualize ourself in a favorite space, doing our favorite things or being with our favorite people. Maintaining a sense of humor reminds us that our stressors may not be as menacing as they seem. Purchase or download a laugh track, cartoons, jokes or a favorite comedy TV show or movie to enjoy when we’re feeling overwhelmed. It renews the spirit and breaks the stress response quickly.

Write in a Journal

For those that like to write, journaling clarifies our thoughts and feelings for increased self-knowledge. Putting the experience on paper gets if off our mind and helps to refocus—and teaches us how to cope the next time it happens.

Power Nap

Midday sleep gives us more patience, better reaction time, increased learning, more efficiency and better health. If we only have five minutes to spare, we can just close our eyes. Even brief rest reduces stress and helps us relax.

For more help with dealing with stress it’s important to understand how the brain is communicating with the body at a deeper level. This can be done by testing neurotransmitters in urine. Neurotransmitter balance can be restored by working with a healthcare provider in a structured systematic fashion which addresses gut health, detoxification and optimization of hormones.

To contact Dr. Meena Malhotra, M.D., medical director at Heal n Cure, located at 2420 Ravine Way, Ste. 400, in Glenview, call 847-686-4444 or visit