How do you manage stress?

Feeling too much stress? Get more recovery.

With the overwhelming amount of stress that many Americans may feel every day, it's easy to imagine how stress in our lives can lead to disengagement from work, clients or families, burn out or depression.

"If we have too much stress in our lives (without recovery), we feel burned out or may develop health issues."

However, studies from the Human Performance Institute™ show that it's not the stress that causes problems for many people, it's their lack of recovery. As humans we require cycles of stress and recovery in order to keep developing. If we have too much stress in our lives (without recovery), we feel burned out or may develop health issues. However, if we have too much recovery (with no periods of stress) we will fail to expand our capacity for growth.

Storms happen

High stress or "storms" are not necessarily a bad thing, as long as we learn how to approach them:

  • Storms take us out of our comfort zone, much like stressing a muscle.
  • They are a stimulus for growth, as long as we seek quality recovery.
  • It's important that when you have periods of high stress that you find time to disengage and recover.
How do you manage stress? - Energy graph
Graph that shows that when fully engaged stress (energy out) grows. When fully disengaged, recovery (energy in) grows.

Relax, re-energize and recover

Now, more than ever, is the time to maintain or establish a regular, consistent schedule for recovery. By purposefully planning the time to disengage and relax, you can better handle the "storms" in your personal and professional life.

Types of recovery

Many people view recovery as lying around watching a movie, taking a nap, even having a glass of wine or a beer. The truth is, recovery is possible while in motion. This type of recovery is called active recovery whereas inactive recovery is called passive recovery. Both types are essential for full engagement where you are energized, positive, connected, focused and committed. Recovery includes any activity that is enjoyable, fulfilling and prompts positive emotions, and with it a flush of positive endorphins. Depending on what your interests are, it might mean working in the garden, exercising, yoga, meditation, massage, time with friends, quiet time alone, playing sports, reading a book...the list goes on and on. The key is finding what works for you.



  • Take a walk or stretch break every 90 minutes
  • Get a good night's sleep (7-8 hours)
  • Snack throughout the day; never go four hours or longer without food
  • Try a deep breathing exercise every four hours
  • Do at least three cardiovascular interval workouts per week
  • Do at least two strength training workouts per week


  • Find something or someone who makes you laugh every day
  • Call a family member or friend daily
  • Read bedtime stories with kids every night
  • Have a date night with your spouse every other Saturday
  • Listen to music or sing to yourself daily
  • Turn off your cell phone during dinner


  • Reprioritize your tasks daily
  • Delegate a task to someone else
  • Schedule a break in your day
  • Read a book or magazine for fun
  • Write in a journal for 5 minutes before bedtime


  • Write five things you're thankful for in a journal or on paper; read it every night
  • Write a mission statement; read it every morning
  • Put a new picture of your family on your screen saver every month
  • Volunteer for something once a month