Top 5 Hacks to Melt Stress Quickly 

by JJ Virgin on April 2, 2024

A little stress can be a good thing. It can prepare you for life's hurdles, build resilience, and challenge your body through exercise. However, when stress overstays its welcome—watch out! 

Chronic stress sets off a hormonal rollercoaster in your body, with cortisol leading the charge. Stress hormones are great for dealing with short-term crises. However, when cortisol lingers longer than it should, this primary stress hormone can throw your body's harmony off balance. 

The aftermath? Your immune system takes a nosedive, your blood sugar goes haywire, weight management becomes a battle, and your overall well-being takes a hit. Chronic stress can also buddy up with anxiety and depression, turning your brain foggy and messing with your decision-making skills. 

Chronic stress is a relationship destroyer, productivity killer, and joy snatcher. However, stress can be hard to manage when you’re in the midst of it. The key is to tackle that feeling before it goes out of control. These five strategies crack the code to kick stress to the curb and reclaim your zen quickly. 

1. Eat Protein First 

When stress is long-term, it can wreak havoc on your body's insulin sensitivity, causing blood-sugar levels to go haywire. By insulin sensitivity, I'm talking about how responsive cells are to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood-sugar levels.  

Insulin sensitivity means your cells respond well to insulin, allowing glucose to enter cells efficiently. When they don't receive glucose efficiently, a condition called insulin resistance results where cells become less responsive to insulin. 

Elevated levels of cortisol can raise blood-sugar levels and increase your risk of insulin resistance. Eating protein first improves insulin sensitivity and keeps blood sugar in check, partly by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates.1 No more rollercoaster rides of energy highs and crashes—just steady, reliable energy to keep you going strong. 

Protein also stimulates the release of satiety hormones, so you feel fuller for longer, and cravings stay at bay.2 Protein-rich foods provide the building blocks for your brain's mood-regulating neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine.3 The result is a happier, more balanced mood to tackle whatever life throws your way. 

Chronically high cortisol levels can also break down muscle tissue and inhibit muscle growth. Over time, this leads to reduced strength and mass.4 Protein plays a crucial role in preserving and repairing muscle, especially when stress levels are high.5 

Eating protein keeps you strong, resilient, and ready to take on anything, whether hitting the gym or trying to survive a hectic week. 

2. HIIT 

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) packs a powerful punch in a short amount of time. HIIT involves short bursts of all-out effort followed by quick recovery periods. This can work wonders for your body and mind. HIIT boosts your cardiovascular fitness, revs your metabolism, and helps lower anxiety and stress.6 

HIIT also triggers the release of endorphins, natural chemicals in your brain that act as painkillers and mood elevators. These endorphins create euphoria and well-being, helping to alleviate stress and anxiety and promote a more positive outlook on life.7  

A HIIT workout requires intense focus and concentration, diverting attention from stressful thoughts or worries. The structured format of HIIT, with its alternating periods of intense activity and rest, provides a mental break from daily stressors and allows you to focus solely on the task at hand. This temporary escape from stressors can help improve mood and reduce overall feelings of stress. 

Other benefits of regular HIIT workouts include better sleep quality and quantity.8 Optimal sleep is essential for managing stress and maintaining overall mental well-being. 

The real magic happens when you combine HIIT with strength training. One study found people who engaged in strength training twice a week for eight weeks felt less anxiety and worry.9  

If you’re new to this, you might be wondering where to start. My free Resistance Training Cheat Sheet provides everything you need to create an effective stress-busting workout, including home gym essentials, an eight-week workout plan, and a progress tracker to track your sets, reps, and weights with each workout. 

3. Meditation 

A few years ago, I stumbled upon Dr. Joe Dispenza's teachings, and meditation transformed from a mere practice into a non-negotiable part of my daily routine. By consistently engaging in meditation, you train your brain on how to hit the brakes on stress-hormone production over time.  

Meditating helps you flip the switch from fight-or-flight mode to rest-and-digest. One review of 45 studies found that regular meditation lowered cortisol, blood pressure, heart rate, and risk factors for heart disease, including triglycerides and inflammatory markers.10  

It can help you manage your weight, too, as elevated cortisol levels store fat. Research shows that meditating regularly as part of a weight-management plan can help reduce dysfunctional eating behaviors and negative emotions, helping you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight in the long term.11  

Dr. Dispenza has some excellent resources, including guided meditations. While I love the longer ones (some of his recordings hit the hour mark), just a few minutes of meditation daily can significantly alleviate stress by calming your mind and body. 

4. Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping) 

Imagine having a powerful tool at your fingertips that can zap stress and boost your emotional well-being in just minutes. Enter Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), aka tapping—a game-changer that blends ancient Chinese wisdom with modern psychology. Over 100 studies show that EFT can be effective for stress and other conditions.12 

EFT involves tapping on specific points on the body. These points are similar to those used in acupuncture and acupressure, which connect with your body's energy pathways or meridians. Common tapping points include areas around the top of the head, the eyebrow, side of the eye, under the eye, under your nose, your chin, collarbone, and under your arm.  

By gently tapping these specific acupressure points while focusing on your stressors, EFT works magic to manage your body's stress response and cultivate calm. EFT triggers a flood of endorphins, those feel-good neurotransmitters that leave you feeling amazing. EFT can provide relief from stress, anxiety, and the symptoms of burnout within minutes.13 

EFT isn't just for stress emergencies, either. Regular practice can keep your emotional resilience in tip-top shape so you're ready to tackle whatever life throws your way. EFT can even help manage stress-induced symptoms like tension-type headaches.14 My friend Nick Ortner can guide you through an example of EFT to tap away stress and anxiety. 

5. Magnesium 

Magnesium is a true multitasking mineral. It plays a role in regulating stress hormones like cortisol. When stress hormones stay high, your body requires more magnesium to manage these hormones. Being chronically stressed can deplete stores of this mineral more quickly. A vicious cycle emerges, as low levels of magnesium can increase stress levels.15  

Getting sufficient magnesium in your diet breaks the cycle, helping relieve muscle tension and dialing down cortisol to promote a sense of calm and tranquility.16, 17 

By regulating mood neurotransmitters like serotonin, magnesium also keeps your emotional well-being on point, adding another layer of defense against stress.18 

You’re likely familiar with how draining chronic stress can be, derailing healthy habits in the process. When stress drains your batteries, magnesium keeps the energy flowing, helping you fight off fatigue and stay resilient.19 This mineral regulates your sleep-wake cycle as well, ensuring you get the restorative rest you need to tackle stress head-on.20 

To get those benefits, include magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens and nuts in your meals. To fully experience its stress-relieving benefits, consider supplementing with a highly absorbable form of magnesium.* 

Master Your Mindset to Manage Stress 

Stress is an inevitable companion on life's journey, but your response can make all the difference. Whether tightening your muscles or clouding your mind, stress can manifest in various forms, impacting physical and mental well-being. However, stress management isn't just about finding immediate relief—it's about safeguarding your long-term health and building resilience for the future. 

The right mindset can make you more resilient to life's difficulties. Cultivating positivity can help change negative patterns, reduce stress, get better sleep, and help you live a happier, healthier life. In Mindset Mastery: 20 Practices for Power and Purpose, you'll learn how to incorporate simple, effective mindset-shifting moments into your daily life to stay mentally stronger, manage stress better, and show up full-on for life.  

Get your FREE guide here. 


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The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.    

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.