The Secret to Instantly Decrease Stress

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Top performers have one thing in common: their ability to balance emotion in times of stress. For those of us living in a fast-paced, urban, always on social media world, finding a sense of inner balance can sometimes provoke an increase in tension rather than a release. Cultivating a mindset to embrace stress involves continued practice and learning to “view your body’s stress response as helpful, not debilitating … view stress as energy you can use” notes an article from Stanford News.

Inhabiting tension is something we learn and practice. Feelings of stress, agitation, despair and anxiety can become so ingrained in our body, mind, and spirit that it’s easy to forget how simple it is to let these feelings go. When we do, the nervous system will begin to settle. When the nerves settle, the body settles. Becoming skilled at recognition and release of stress is one of the top ways to achieve optimal performance professionally.

Try this five-step quick stress relief process:

  1. Awareness: Start with an open mind and a willingness to embrace tension. Close your eyes and scan the entire body and pay attention to any tightness, where is it being held?

  2. Exploration: Give into feeling tension. Acknowledge where it is in the body and examine any connections between muscular or emotional tightness or stress. Sit with the feeling for a few moments - even if it is uncomfortable.

  3. Recognition: Avoid placing any labels on these sensations. Remember it is only energy. Allow yourself to recognize it, for just that.

  4. Release: Begin the process of moving this tension or energy through and out of where it is being held too tightly. Anywhere these feelings are not serving the body, mind or spirit, breathe deeply and let the tension go.

  5. Energize: Use the flow of breath to release and re-energize the full body, mind and spirit. Imagine that with each breath of releasing tension, space is created to circulate a feeling of openness and freedom - shifting the energy from tightness to lightness and movement.

Find more on ideas on how to powerfully release tension here.

Through daily practice, cultivating new patterns for letting go and releasing tension can become immediate. Determine what works for you. From meditation and yoga, to mindful walks, journaling, and ancient practices like Tai Chi or QiGong, there are endless options. Give yourself permission to get curious about classes, online resources, and workshops that can provide a new perspective. Once you find something that speaks to you, keep it going every day for at least a week. This is the first step to starting a new habit.

Curious about trying QiGong?

If you are in Chicago and are looking for a new way to get started, check out Karianne’s upcoming Intro to QiGong at Chicago Tai Chi. This four-week course runs July 9th - August 1st. Use special discount code: summerqigong25 for a $25 discount. 

About QiGong and learning to release tension:

In QiGong, centering, stillness, and emotional release comes from a place of cultivating energy throughout the entire body. The word QiGong means energy practice and is a powerful and gentle way to work the entire nervous system to release stress and regain a feeling of calm.


Artistic, grounded, free-thinker meets polished, resourceful, strategy-focused leader. After a 14-year career in the creative branding industry, Karianne made the leap to chart her own path. Knowing that her passion, skills and experience to lead the global branding and marketing strategy for companies like State Farm, GE and Hewlett-Packard could be applied to more meaningful challenges, she launched Lofti, a brand education agency, in 2017. In her first 18 months, Karianne and her team coached over 250 leaders and entrepreneurs through private consulting and original branding workshops focused on developing authentic, powerful stories. Mixed with mindful breath techniques and sound meditation, her workshops are one of a kind. Applying the same multimillion dollar concepts she used to craft the world’s strongest, most recognizable brands, and insight from ancient Chinese energy arts, she advises individuals on how to refine and leverage their story and confidence to get them to their next level of greatness, in either their career or business.

Karianne Wardell