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How to Break the Stress Cycle

mindset stress management Aug 15, 2023
How to Break the Stress Cycle | Arangio

You're getting pulled in so many directions that your schedule doesn’t even seem to be your own anymore.

Maybe feeling like you’re not getting anywhere because you’re completely overwhelmed. 

Taking care of yourself seems like a pipe dream. You can almost feel the stress rising and your energy levels going down.

Being stressed to the max isn’t helping. Stress has negative physiological effects on your brain and body.

This feeling of overwhelm causes cortisol to spike which, in turn, destroys your sleep, makes you crave sugar, and causes brain fog.

Too much stress discourages you from following proven strategies like smart training, mindful nutrition, and getting deep recovery.

Your frantic mental state is not helping you to be a better boss, parent, spouse or friend.

But you're not alone.

I was speaking with a client who said she started gaining about 10 pounds per year in middle age.

She felt frazzled from many grownup responsibilities, namely working long hours with no end in sight.

After 5 years she was 50 pounds over her ideal weight and nearly 40% bodyfat.

At her annual physical her doctor asked if she "wanted to dig a grave with her teeth?"

Something about that harsh-yet-to-the-point statement motivated her to get serious about her fitness and nutrition.

Here's what she said:

"It's about knowing your triggers and avoiding them altogether. Now I stop eating after a certain pre-planned amount of food and get up an hour earlier so I can exercise despite my busy schedule. When it comes to obesity, I think it does a real disservice to say that personal choice and discipline does not make a difference. It does. I got back to my normal healthy weight and have maintained it for many years. But, I will tell you it NEVER gets any easier, and I struggle with food every day. It is not a diet, it is a lifestyle change and a change in how you see food. If you are going to be successful, you must take personal responsibility for life."

Maybe you feel the same, stressed out with no end in sight. The whirlwind and relentless pace you've been keeping has been extremely overwhelming.

You get stressed because you feel burdened by your current situation in life. You get less done because you’re not on your A-game. It's because you’re stressed.

Perhaps you're feeling burned out too. If so, today would be a perfect day to break that cycle.

How to Break the Stress Cycle

In this fast-paced modern world, stress has become an unwelcome companion for many, affecting your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.

Thankfully stress is not an unbreakable chain; it's a cycle that can be dismantled with the right tools and strategies. In this lesson you'll learn actionable steps to break the stress cycle.

It's crucial to grasp how this cycle operates. Stress isn't solely an external force acting upon you; it's a biological and psychological response to perceived threats. Your body is wired to react to stressors, triggering the famous "fight or flight" response.

However, in the modern world, your stressors often come in the form of work pressures, relationship struggles, financial worries, and more. When you encounter these stressors, your body initiates a series of physiological changes that, over time, can take a toll on your health.

The stress cycle doesn't just affect you physically; it also has a profound impact on your emotions and thoughts.

Chronic stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and a host of other mental health issues. What's more, stress can create a feedback loop where your emotional state perpetuates the cycle, making it challenging to find relief.

Good news is that there are effective strategies to break free from its clutches:

1. Recognize your triggers: The first step towards breaking the stress cycle is identifying what triggers it for you. Is it a demanding boss, looming deadlines, or unresolved conflicts? Self-awareness is key here – once you know your triggers, you can begin to manage your response to them.

2. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is a powerful tool to interrupt the stress cycle. By cultivating present-moment awareness, you can distance yourself from anxious thoughts and worries. Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and body scanning can help ground you in the here and now.

3. Prioritize self-care: Often overlooked, self-care plays a pivotal role in breaking the stress cycle. Make time for activities that bring you joy, whether it's reading, exercising, spending time with loved ones, or indulging in hobbies. Remember, self-care isn't selfish – it's a vital investment in your wellbeing.

4. Healthy boundaries: Establishing healthy boundaries is essential in managing stress. Learn to say "no" when you're overwhelmed and set limits on your commitments. Communicate your boundaries clearly to those around you to ensure they're respected.

5. Exercise regularly: Physical activity, namely progressive resistance training, is a potent stress buster. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood elevators, and helps burn off excess stress hormones. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy, whether it's yoga, running, dancing, or swimming.

6. Connect socially: Human connection is a fundamental need that can counteract the effects of stress. Spend time with friends and family, engage in meaningful conversations, and build a support network. Sharing your feelings can alleviate emotional burdens.

7. Practice gratitude: Gratitude has a transformative effect on your perspective. Regularly acknowledging the positive aspects of your life can shift your focus away from stressors and cultivate a more optimistic mindset.

8. Mindful eating and sleep: Nourishing your body with balanced meals and prioritizing sufficient sleep can significantly impact your stress levels. Avoid turning to unhealthy comfort foods during times of stress and instead opt for nourishing options that support your well-being.

9. Cognitive restructuring: Challenge negative thought patterns by engaging in cognitive restructuring. When stressful thoughts arise, examine their validity and replace them with more rational and positive alternatives.

10. Seek professional help: If stress becomes overwhelming and unmanageable, don't hesitate to seek professional assistance. Therapists, counselors, and mental health experts can provide tailored strategies to help you cope with and overcome chronic stress.

11. Engage in pleasure and relaxation: Engaging in pleasurable and relaxing activities can provide an effective counterbalance to stress. Whether it's reading a book, taking a bath, or enjoying a cup of tea, find moments of joy and relaxation throughout your day.

When it comes to your health, habit change can be intimidating.

Maybe you’ve been out of a routine for a few months, or even a few years, and aren’t sure how to get started. Maybe you’re not sure you’ll be able to keep up.

Perhaps you’ve gone to a big corporate gym or large-group studio in the past and have gotten injured... and you’re anxious about that happening again.

Of course, medically diagnosed anxiety and depression are very real and should be treated seriously. But for the majority of us, feeling anxious isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, if you’re not feeling anxious, you’re missing out. If you’re not a little restless, chances are you’re stuck in your comfort zone.

And no change, growth, or improvement can happen if you stay in your comfort zone.

So, if you’re feeling anxious about starting or resuming your age-management program realize that you’re not alone.

In fact, you might be feeling uneasy because you’ve made a decision to push yourself outside your comfort zone and toward a better version of yourself.

Embrace those butterflies in your stomach and transform the anxious feelings into a momentum that will propel you forward.

Break the cycle today by taking imperfect action to relieve stress.

Spend some time thinking about your future and what is important to you. What will you do today to break the cycle?

Lift some weights? 

Stretch? Breathe? Do some yoga? Meditate?

Hop on your bike? Get some fresh air?

Call a friend?

Many stressors in life are rooted in how you operate as a person and how you interact with the world.

And after 25+ years of coaching, I've noticed some common "unwritten rules" that nearly all successful clients follow.

You too can manage stress by adopting some of these rules:

  • Action is how you're judged. Words might be indicative of what you want, but actions prove who you are
  • "Small steps forward" are the most probable way for you to reach your goals
  • You’ve survived 100% of the challenges you’ve faced so far, so have confidence that you can overcome future difficulties
  • Don’t be the person who overvalues what you’re not and undervalues what you are
  • Play to your strengths
  • There are plenty of things outside of your control. And that’s okay. Control what you can
  • You control how you respond. Your response largely dictates you results
  • How you look at things tends to make all the difference
  • Great expectations precede great outcomes
  • Win today. It’s the first step to bigger accomplishments
  • When you achieve a goal or accomplish something meaningful, enjoy it
  • The best part of achieving a goal is not the goal itself but what you’ve become through the process and the accomplishment of working the process itself.
  • Excellence isn’t an accident
  • Lift others up. Today. Everyday
  • Use other people's' achievements for education and inspiration. Not envy or jealousy
  • Worry less about your 5 and 10-year plan and more about your 24 and 168-hour plans

If any of these things resonate with you, and you think the message could help someone else, please share.


Breaking the stress cycle is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It requires a combination of self-awareness, intentionality, and consistent effort. Remember that it's okay to ask for help along the way and to acknowledge that breaking the cycle is a journey, not an overnight transformation. By implementing the strategies outlined in this lesson, you can regain control over your stress response and create a more harmonious relationship with the challenges life presents. 

To your success,

Coach Joe



Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women lose weight, gain strength, and slow aging. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to increase longevity with the best online age-management program, or you want to visit the best age-management program in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.

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