For many of us, a happy 9-to-5 is an oxymoron, especially if we don’t know how to de-stress at work.
No matter how much enthusiasm we started our work lives with, sooner or later, stress becomes our biggest workplace nemesis. Stress at work has become so commonplace that almost everyone who has a job reports experiencing it.
Stress at work can become a serious health problem. The American Institute of Stress says increased levels of job stress have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders.
Work takes up a third of our weekdays, and sometimes much more. And what happens at work does not always stay at work. Adding to our woes, the stress we experience in our jobs begins to affect other areas of our lives.
There’s no proven checklist how to de-stress yourself instantly. However, it is possible to break this cycle by learning and applying creative ways to reduce stress at work.
5 Simple Techniques for How to De-Stress at Work
Having a stress-free work life might seem out of reach, but it is freely accessible to all of us. Sure, most of us have a handle on how to de-stress after work, but doing so while on the job can be vexing.
There are many stress busting activities for employees that your boss may employ at your work, but those can sometimes seem like work itself. While there’s nothing wrong with fun stress relieving activities, the most effective methodology is self-directed. By this we mean long-term, personal effort to reduce stress and manage stress responses.
Here, we will explore activities to de stress at work. Hopefully, we can not only take better care of our health and well-being but also rediscover the same joy and passion with which we started our careers.
1) Deep Breathing
This is the simplest yet surest way to access your inner sanctuary of tranquility.
The quality of our breath is a direct reflection of what’s going on inside. Paying attention to how we breathe can bring us in touch with how we actually feel.
When stressed, one might notice that their breath is shallow and quick. When calm, we breathe deep, slow, even, and long. Thus, deepening the breath is a way to reverse-engineer calm. As far as de stress activities go, it’s incredibly simple.
Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as yogic breathing, provides benefits that extend far beyond reducing real-time stress. Deep breathing helps soothe the autonomic nervous system, thereby easing anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The next time you experience stress at work, take a few minutes to gently close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Slowly and gently begin to deepen your breath.
Place one of your hands on your belly to experience it rise when you inhale and fall as you exhale. You may wish to count: 1… 2… 1… 2… with each in/out breath. Advanced practitioners will simply observe the natural flow of breath with heightened focus.
Experiencing stress negatively impacts our bodies. Muscles tend to become tight, and over a period of time experiencing chronic stress, tension begins to accumulate.
Sitting for long periods of time does not help.
There are areas of the body where we tend to hold stress more than others. The neck, shoulders, and upper back are particularly affected, and how they feel is a good indication of the amount of stress we are carrying.
Stretching is a great way to release both physical and mental stress. It also improves energy levels and promotes blood circulation. Beyond the office, it helps in sleeping better and is as good for the heart as it is for the head.
It is recommended to take a stretch break after every hour of sitting. Focus on the neck, shoulders, head, and the upper and lower back.
Dehydration increases the level of cortisol in the blood. Cortisol is a stress hormone. When under stress, one’s heart rate increases and breaths are short and heavy, which uses more water from the body.
This starts a vicious cycle of stress that causes dehydration and dehydration that adds to stress. Dehydration can also lead to other problems like headaches, nausea, and fatigue.
Drink water. Add caffeine to the mix and trouble brews. Caffeine promotes cortisol production in the body.
If drinking water is something that you forget in the midst of seemingly more important things at work, try setting a regular drink-some-water alarm.
Staying hydrated will go a long way to help you de-stress at work.
4) Power Napping
This one runs the risk of becoming a favorite. With most of us craving a little extra sleep, a nap in the middle of the day may feel like the best way to solve all of life’s problems.
The good news is, naps can help reduce stress. Napping for as little as 10–20 minutes can do wonders to not only de-stress but also improve focus, alertness, learning ability, and reduce errors.
SleepFoundation.org talks about how, “a nap can be a pleasant luxury, a mini-vacation. It can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.”
The ideal time for taking a nap is between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The next time you want to de-stress at work, try closing your eyes for ten minutes and falling into a short and sweet slumber.
When you wake up, the world inside will have changed.
5) Resting Your Eyes
Uninterrupted screen time has been linked to a series of health problems of all kinds, one of them being increased stress.
Taking frequent breaks from the screen is not only highly beneficial to maintain the health of our eyes, but it has far-reaching positive effects on the mind and body. The difference before and after resting one’s eyes is tangible and immediate.
There are several ways to do this. A few options that help reduce stress:
- Move your eyes to a distant object and fix your gaze there for as little as 20 seconds
- Wash or rinse your eyes frequently
- Rub your palms to generate warmth, then cup them over your eyes
Conclusion: How to De-Stress at Work
The most important step in how to de-stress at work is being mindful of the stress one feels. It is only when you are in touch with how you feel that you can take action to de-stress.
We hope these tips on how to de stress and reduce anxiety related to work help you develop strategies for managing stress in the workplace.
When you can successfully find creative ways to de-stress, especially working in a field that already feeds your inner calling, you achieve a new level of work efficiency, joy, and balance.
Now that we know how to de-stress at work, here’s to a happy 9-to-5. If there’s something that works for you to de-stress at work, please share in the comments below.