Unfortunately, stress is part of work, and we usually can’t do much to avoid it. It’s important to have anti-stress strategies on hand to keep yourself from losing it when things get crazy. Here are some key things you can do to find a moment of Zen amidst the chaos in your daily work schedule.
Keep your desk stocked with water or your favourite healthy beverage. It could be herbal tea to calm your nerves, green tea to energise you or a flavoured water to break up your boredom. A well-hydrated brain is a focused brain. Studies have shown that dehydration can affect cognition and concentration. If you lack the focus necessary to complete your work, you’re sure to get stressed. Aim to drink eight ounces of water per hour while at work to help maintain hydration and to meet your daily water intake goal.
Sitting hunched over a desk or computer screen for eight hours a day won’t make anyone feel good, even on the calmest of days. Studies have shown that stretching in the workplace can reduce pain and stress by up to 72 percent!1
No matter how hectic things get, take a few minutes every now and then to stand up, stretch your limbs and work out those kinks that have developed in your neck, shoulders and wrists. You’ll be able to keep working without injury, and the stretching will give you a little burst of energy and refreshment.
You may not be aware of it, but when things get crazy, our breathing tends to become shallower and faster. It’s part of the fight or flight reaction that gets our bodies ready for quick action in the face of a threat. But when the threat is an impending deadline that has you chained to your desk for the day, this natural reaction only makes you feel worse.
Try some deep breathing exercises throughout the day to calm your heart rate, clear your mind and regain a sense of centeredness and focus. If you can’t get away with zoning out at your desk (most of us can’t), then retreat to the restroom and grab a few moments of peace there. If you can’t seem to focus, use a free guided mediation on YouTube or the Calm app.
Take a Walk
Unfortunately, you can’t up and leave in the middle of a bad meeting or a deadline crisis. But you can use your allotted break time to get away, get outdoors and get moving. Not only will it do you good to leave the crazy atmosphere and feel some sun on your face, but physically working out your stress can also help you return to the office in a calmer frame of mind.
Even if your break is only 10 minutes, it’s enough time to step away and gather your thoughts. In fact, recent studies suggest that walking (or climbing a few flights of stairs if you’re up for a challenge) for that small window of time is a more effective method of boosting your energy than consuming 50 milligrams of caffeine.2
Can’t manage a walk? Then just get away from your desk for a few minutes. Visit the water cooler. Walk over to the accounting department to hand in that report instead of emailing it. Take a trip to the supply cabinet for a new pen. When things get stressful, our sense of time and space tends to evaporate, and suddenly we find we’ve been plugging away for two hours straight without blinking. Physically removing yourself from your workspace, even for a few minutes, can give you a much-needed chance to refocus, compose yourself and keep yourself from getting sucked into a tailspin of stress.
Change Your Tune
Music can really boost your mood when you need it most. Make a playlist full of all the songs that cheer you up and put a big smile on your face. Tune in when you’re feeling your most stressed, allowing yourself to zone out for the duration of at least one song in its entirety before jumping back in. Studies have shown that listening to slow, relaxing music slows down your pulse and heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and actually decreases levels of stress hormones in your body.2
If you don’t have a long enough list of feel-good tunes to curate your own playlist, try a premade one from Spotify like “Mood Booster” or “Good Vibes.”
1Healthline. (1 March 2017). Stretches to do at work every day. Retrieved 30 August 2017, from http://www.healthline.com/health/deskercise#head-and-shoulders5
2Collingwood, J. (17 July 2016). The power of music to reduce stress. Retrieved 30 August 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/