30-Minute Stress Relief Workout + 3 Reasons Not to Skip It!

Tanja Djelevic by Tanja Djelevic | February 15th, 2012 | 4 Comments
topic: Fitness, Health & Wellness

Young Woman Jumping RopeI have found that in times of stress, physical exertion is one of the most effective and important steps to take — and it can actually help us through hard times!

Numerous studies have confirmed the fact that the right amount of exercise relieves stress and boosts the immune system. It releases feel-good hormones — such as endorphins and adrenaline — and reduces levels of stress hormones.

Yet our natural reaction to stress is usually to take things out of our day that seem superfluous and time-consuming. Often that includes the time we spend on our own health. We sacrifice that time — and ourselves — to other more “important” causes at hand, even when the cause of our stress is something we don’t have control over anyway.

I’d like to point out three other important benefits of exercise that are less often highlighted — but equally great reasons to find time every day to just move.

  1. Taking time for yourself can have a meditative effect. Focusing on just your physical exertion and breathing gives you space and time to disconnect from your worries for that moment — a golden moment you can give yourself.
  2. A planned workout gives you a sense of your ability to influence your environment — a good thing when you’re feeling out of control. Exercise allows you to take break from that helpless feeling.
  3. It’s a cathartic outlet! (This is my favorite.) Working out is a great way to let off steam.

A smart technique to use in your stress relief workouts is “nose breathing.” Yoga teaches us that breathing through the nose is proven to calm the nervous system. Combine that with a cardio workout and you’ll experience noticeable stress relief benefits, just by moving and breathing!

Try this 30-minute stress relief workout I recommend to my clients. This routine with a focus on nose breathing will also give you the benefit of high and low heart rate intervals, plus stability and mobility exercises:

In five-minute intervals, alternate the following moves:

  1. Plié squats (point your toes out at a 45-degree angle, toward the two corners of the room) with arms reaching overhead … when you come up, straighten legs to standing, gazing upward and bringing arms down alongside the body
  2. Heart-rate-boosting moves such as dancing, jumping, skipping, jumping rope, stepping up and down on a sturdy step or curb, or doing jumping jacks
  3. Downward Dog and Upward Dog, or preferably the full Sun Salutation sequence
  4. More cardio moves as in #2
  5. Abs sequence: Standing twists on a ball if available, or lying on a yoga mat
  6. Stretches done lying on a mat or on the floor. Or, if you have a foam roller available, spend the last five minutes rolling your body over the roller to relax the legs and back muscles.

Good luck and LiveLifeLoud!


Get fit and banish stress with yoga and fitness videos on GaiamTV.com!


  1. Great information, thank you.

    Elizabeth Stanfill | October 6th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  2. Hello Tanja. I just orderd all your DVD’s from Amazon a month ago and have really enjoyed them. Just wanted to thank you for being such an inspiration. You’ve really made working out from home fun. I love the variety and some of the moves with the ball are so unconventionally challenging and fun. Can I ask where you filmed them? The back ground and film production is really great and trust me I own a lot of fitness DVD’s to compare them to. Also I love your outfits. Where did you get them? Will you be coming out with more?

    Liz Smith | October 30th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  3. This is such a great reminder right now. In college I learned that although skipping the gym during finals week seemed like a necessary evil, it was actually detrimental. I found my mind was clearer and my motivation was stronger if I spent an hour at the gym everyday, which in turn helped my grades. I somehow lost sight of that for a while, so thanks for reminding me to breathe through my nose and take time for myself.

    Bonnie | February 16th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  4. i see exactly what you say when i read this blog. it’s so real. everyone experiences stress at some point whether it’s for school or regular work, and us as individuals don’t always know ways to helping ourself relief stress, and it’s different for individual of how they go about relieving their stress. and for me i do believe physical activity is key to helping stress. just that one hour a day at the gym can really help give you an open minded thought on everything and make your thoughts, decisions, and studying much easier. great explanation.

    brian | February 26th, 2012 | Comment Permalink

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