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SOUL INSPIRATION

14 Simple Ways to Beat Stress

The new year’s begun, the celebrations have winded down… and life’s back to being super-busy. But don’t let stress spoil the start of 2016. Here, 53 instructors share how to relieve stress and find calm when life gets hectic…

1. MEDITATE

MELANIE GRIFFITH
Go to my meditation app, Headspace. They have an SOS option that is a three minute guided meditation.

MEGAN KELLY
A quick 10-minute close of the eyes and meditate is a good quick fix. If I need a little more, yoga or a call to my mom does the trick.

BEA DEL ROSARIO
When I am anxious or stressed, I make sure to take a time out and breathe. Meditation is a new practice for me so what helps is starting simple with long breaths! Five seconds in and five seconds out, three times. If that doesn’t work, calling a loved one to talk it all out helps too!

RICH MARTINO
When I'm stressed, I pop on my headphones and use the Headspace app. It relaxes the mind.

JILLIAN DAVIS
I meditate!

MAYA ELIAS
For a long time, I struggled with anxiety but about a year ago resident badass and fellow instructor Noa Shaw showed me the app Headspace. You do one guided meditation for 10 minutes a day, training your mind to adapt to and cope with your own thoughts, no matter how scattered they might seem. Ultimately, it really does work to reduce stress and anxiety, and for me, 10 minutes a day is SO worth that.

WHY IT WORKS
No wonder nearly 18 million adults and 927,000 children in the United States turn to this stress-busting practice, which has become increasingly popular with meditation centers like Unplug and books such as 10 Percent Happier encouraging it. When researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore crunched the numbers on nearly 19,000 meditation studies, they found that mindfulness meditation is a major help in ameliorating psychological stresses such as anxiety, depression, and pain.



2. JUST BREATHE.

CHRIS CHANDLER
In the moment? BREATHE. To plan? I start the next day with a slow morning, mapping out the rest of my week, giving myself time to refuel.

HEATHER ANDERSON
When I'm feeling unsettled or anxious, I always go back to my breath. I find that if I take some slow, deep breaths everything else seems to slow down as well and I feel more in control.

NIKKI DELVENTHAL
When I get anxious or stressed, I take a moment, take a few deep breaths and smile (it fixes everything). I remind myself of the present moment. My favorite words to live by are "control your controllables” and don't stress the rest! Just breathe through it and smile.

NOAH FEINBERG
Deep breathing, and coming to the conclusion that every problem is solvable and stress is temporary.

KENDRA KEMERLEY
Lots of deep breathing, dancing, time in nature (outside of NYC), snuggling with my Siberian Husky (Jinx), and WINE.

JOEY COPPEDGE
I usually get myself in the room, meet riders I've never met, fix incorrect bike set-ups, and then start the class with a breathing exercise. When I'm anxious or stressed, it’s always because I've gotten away from my breath so breathing with the class helps us all to get centered and on the same page.

KELLY SHEERINS
I focus on my breath, then put on some relaxing music and a little bit of lavender oil.

NINA RUTSCH
I take a moment to breathe and stretch in child’s pose. Doing this can calm nerves in just a minute.

OLIVIA AMATO
When I'm feeling stressed, I try to remind myself to take a step back and take a few deep breaths in and out. I try to clear my mind of those feelings and replace them with focus and determination!

LESLIE SANCHEZ
My first go-to is... take a deep breath. After that, I ride in someone else's class or I light candles and take bath!

ANDREW STINGER
A personal trainer actually made me do this "exercise" when I showed up for a session overly stressed: Eyes closed. Sit with both feet firmly on the ground. Inhale five counts. Hold two counts. Exhale seven counts. Repeat for seven total sets.

BRITTANY DUSKIN
1. Take five long deep breaths, or more if needed. This immediately calms me down.
2. Make time during the week to do one or more things that are enjoyable like having a movie night with a friend, reading a book, taking a walk in nature, or going to a SoulCycle class. These things remind me that life doesn't have to be so serious!

WHY IT WORKS
Deep breathing not only calms you down immediately, but research has shown that it also affects the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system — and maybe even the expression of genes. Simply slowing down your inhales and exhales can instantly change the ph of your blood and alter blood pressure as well as put the brakes on the body’s production of harmful stress hormones.



3. BREAK A SWEAT

ISAAC CALPITO
I take someone else's class. I love Amanda Max and of course my Soul Mama, Janet.

JULIE DERMER
Nothing cures stress better than a really fun crack jog. Lately Sia and David Guetta’s "Bang My Head" has helped me "rise above it all.”

WAYNE PHILLIPS
A few rounds on the heavy bag always allow me to release some energy.

JUSTINE SCHWARTZ
I take a SoulCycle class or dance to music!

GUNNER
Currently, I either ride in another instructor's class or do a heated vinyasa class. Anything that makes me sweat and helps me escape my own thoughts for just a wee bit.

ROGER GARCIA
I have found that by the time I actually realize that I'm stressed or anxious it's too late. I’m already elbows deep in emotion, so the best thing I do is throw the headphones on and head to the gym. Aside from my daily strength training, I have a couple of quick fire workouts that include tons of body movement, mixed in with lighter weights at higher reps. This works all the time without fail.

WHY IT WORKS
We know you already know first-hand about alllllll the benefits of regular exercise, but research has proven that working out can relieve stress, boost mood, increase energy and fend off fatigue. Stressed out? Clip in – or do anything that will get your body moving!


4. GO FOR A WALK

ISABEL YERKES
I walk around a neighborhood I don't live or work in with my headphones on and watch the city move around me.

TAYLOR SHANK
I take a walk alone. I always find myself wondering why I don't do it more.

WHY IT WORKS
Grab some fresh air and watch anxiety fade: Walking outdoors in nature can reduce depression, cut stress and improve mental health and well-being, according to research from the University of Michigan. In the study, people who had recently experienced stressful life events got a major mood boost after outdoor group walks. The next time you’re feeling frazzled, grab some friends and take a stroll.


5. LISTEN TO MUSIC

CASEY HIRSCH
When I am anxious or stressed, I put on some relaxing tunes and cook and possibly have a splash/glass of pinot noir.

CASI REALI
Searching for music always helps me out when I'm anxious or stressed. I'm a firm believer in ALLOWING yourself to get lost in the music so that's exactly what I do.

JULIE ANNE QUAY
When I feel anxious or stressed, I listen to music!

WILLIE HOLMES
I listen to music. My favorite song when I'm down: "Mona Lisa (Masterpiece)" by Jazmine Sullivan and "Smile" by Tupac and Scarface.

WHY IT WORKS
Turning up your favorite tunes can dampen the effects of stress. Scores of studies including one conducted at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts found that listening to music affected the autonomic nervous system, enabling better response to stressors. Need some fun playlists? Check out SoulCycle's Spotify channel.


6. PLAY WITH A DOG
KIRSTEN KOPPE
Snuggle with my dog, Sadie, and just try to quiet my thoughts for a few minutes.

DANIELLE MCCLEEREY
A couple hours with my dogs will always make me feel better. They are just the best.

WHY IT WORKS
Your four-legged friend is a force when it comes to squelching stress. Research has shown that playing with your pet can boost levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin while slowing the production of the stress hormone cortisol. And one study found that pet-owning patients with high blood pressure were able to better control blood pressure during times of stress than those patients who didn’t have pets.


7. TAKE A BATH
MANDY BROOKS
I take a hot bath and light some candles to de-stress...everyday.

JENNA GUADAGNI
I believe a bath filled with lavender salts, some meditation music and a few candles cures, relaxes and rejuvenates the soul.

SARAH HEALY
When I'm really feeling stressed, drained, maxed out or just need some clarity and time to relax, I take a bubble bath. It's so cliche but it's so relaxing to both your mind and body! Double win!

MIKKI HOMMEL
Take a long bath, ride in my favorite instructor's class or, if I can, I go horseback riding.

WHY IT WORKS
Easing into the tub can tame tension in just 10 minutes. A study in Japan found that 10 minutes of bathing can improve your response to both physical and mental stressors. And adding some essential oil such as lavender can help, too: A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience revealed that lavender oil affects the brain and encourages relaxation.


8. CATCH SOME SHUT-EYE
SARA SILK
Nap, bath or a walk. One of the three always makes me feel better.

JILL VALENTE
Go to bed! Everything always seems better in the morning.

WHY IT WORKS
Remember this equation: More Sleep = Less Stress. Research has shown that skimping on shut-eye increases your chances for stress and depression as well as yelling at loved ones, skipping workouts and feeling angry. Even a quick nap can work wonders: In one study published in the scientific journal Industrial Health, night shift nurses who took two 15-minute naps during 9-hour work shifts reported feeling less stress and tension.



9. GET CREATIVE
LOUISE GASSMAN
Color in coloring books.

LINDSAY BUCKLEY
Look through my phone at old photos and videos that make me laugh!

BARI ROBINSON
Depending on where I am or the time of day, I paint, listen to music, so do some deep breathing or ride!

WHY IT WORKS
Tapping into our creative side is a quick and easy way to change your focus and ease stress. Adult coloring books are popular in Europe, where they’re used to unwind, and painting has been proven to ease stress and anxiety.


10. LAUGH
JENNA GAROFALO
I usually do something unrelated to what I'm stressed about or watch Ellen DeGeneres!

LISA MOLOSHOK
I spend a ton of time with the people who make me laugh — my amazing friends and family, ESPECIALLY my niece and nephew! There isn’t a problem in the world when you’re laughing with the best 4 and 2 year-old ever. At night when I’m feeling anxious, I like to get into bed with a cup of tea and watch The Office. I worked on the show before finding fitness and it still brings me so much joy, no matter how many times I’ve seen each episode. My tea secret is: One bag Sleepytime Extra and one bag Kava Kava tea. You’ll be chill and asleep in about seven minutes.

WHY IT WORKS
Watching humor — and even anticipating seeing something funny — can boost health-protecting hormones as well as deter detrimental stress hormones, according to research conducted at Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA. In their study, two hormones – beta-endorphins (the family of chemicals that alleviates depression) and human growth hormone (HGH; which helps with immunity) – increased by 27 and 87 percent respectively when volunteers anticipated watching a humorous video, but there were no increases among the control group weren’t waiting to see something funny.


11. YOGA
EMILY TURNER
In a word, yoga. It's the one thing I can do where I don't have to think about anything besides my breath and my body.

MARTHA KAPLAN
When I am anxious or stressed, I jump into a yoga class and focus on my breath.

WHY IT WORKS
Just say Om. Practicing yoga lowers anxiety, tension, depression, anger and fatigue, according to scores of studies including one published in the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport.


12. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
LEAH LIFE
I make sure to get some alone time to just relax and reset.

AMANDA MAX
I use visualization to relieve anxiety. When I feel that stress creep in, I close my eyes, breathe slowly and picture myself in one of my favorite places alone and quiet. If that doesn't work I watch The Real Housewives to zone out

KALEY SKOGLUND
I start a list of logistics and facts, figuring out what I can control, what I have to just let be and what my plan of action is going to be. I have to break it down, digest it and move from there.

JAMES LEWIS
I stop right in my tracks, close my eyes and let it pass. (Don't do this while driving!)

RYAN FOLEY
I take a moment to step away from what whatever is causing the stress or anxiety, breathe deeply, and try to reset mentally. I try to think of something positive to take away from the situation, and I attempt to think about how I can make the situation work for me instead of letting the situation work against me.

SABINE GERDTS
When I feel anxious or stressed, silence really helps me. Complete, unadulterated silence. I like to just lie on my bed by myself, close my eyes and meditate on my thoughts in silence. As instructors we spend a lot of time listening to music. And as a New Yorker, there is a ton of sensory overload. Something is always happening! So to have a few moments of silence to just clear my mind is the best thing I can do for myself.

WHY IT WORKS
Solo time, silence, self-talk and visualization have been shown to be powerful ways to ease anxiety, according to a study published in Australia Family Physician. Shaking up a situation will give you a fresh perspective and some distance from your stress.



13. GET A HUG
LORI ABELES
When I get anxious or stressed, I hug my kids. And then a nice glass of Chardonnay-nae!

WHY IT WORKS
Hug it out: Researchers published in Psychological Science found that greater social support and more frequent hugs protected people from the increased susceptibility to infection associated with being stressed and resulted in less severe illness symptoms.


14. CHOCOLATE
ROXIE JONES
I eat chocolate! Or ride with another instructor.

WHY IT WORKS
Sweet! Eating dark chocolate can help reduce the hormones in your body that make you feel stressed, according to a published in the Journal of Proteome Research. Even better? Research suggests you should have a small square every day for best results.

Questions or comments? Email blog@soul-cycle.com! Want to ride at SOUL? To book a bike, grab a series HERE then book a bike!

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