How to relax at work: ten quick ways to deal with stress in the office

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We all have days like it; the to-do list is getting longer as the day rolls by, we feel as if we have nothing under control, and it’s getting to be a struggle to cope. You’re not alone, we all have those days, weeks or months when nothing goes to plan. It’s important to know when to deal with your stress levels and find a way to relax, and this blog aims to detail a few ways in which you can relax at work.

  1. Take a quick walk around the block
  2. Practise some mindfulness at your desk
  3. Prepare in advance for a good day
  4. Switch off social media
  5. Yoga and Meditation
  6. Have a chat
  7. Schedule in a mini-break
  8. Create a relaxing playlist
  9. Doodle
  10. If all else fails, have a bit of chocolate!

Stress at work is more common than you think

More than one in seven workers experience mental health issues at work in their career, and 12.7% of all sickness absence days can be attributed to mental health. Throughout the day it’s vital that we are mindful of our levels of stress and anxiety and take action if the load on our shoulders need to be lightened.

These are just some ideas to help keep our mind and body healthy during the working day, but do remember that if these don’t help there are all sorts of forms of support available if you need it.

Take a quick walk around the block

Grabbing some fresh air can help clear your mind

Fresh air. It’s good for the soul and after a day being stuck indoors, it can sometimes take getting away from the desk and the ringing phone, getting a bit of movement and exercise in, and having a quick walk around the block to get back into the swing of things.

A change of surroundings may free you from the source of your stress in the workplace and the exercise from walking will do you the world of good.

A change of environment may be what you need to refresh your mind, but getting out of the office, moving your legs and enjoying five minutes of personal time have been shown to be beneficial to your mood.

Practice some mindfulness at your desk

Taking a moment to breathe is good for you

If the above isn’t possible and you aren’t able to leave the office, then there are a number of things you can do that could make the world of difference in your day.

Breathing exercises, desk yoga, facial stretches, you could even create a relaxing green landscape on your desk, there are so many things you can do to help you if you’re stuck at your desk. All of this will help keep you more focused and in tune with your environment around you.

There are so many ways you can spend five minutes getting your brain back in gear and feeling calm.

Prepare in advance for a good day

Plan in advance and your day will be easier

To help keep your stress levels sensible and mental health in check throughout the day it’s wise to make sure that you’re setting yourself up as well as you can.

Get a good nights sleep

First of all; sleep. A good nights sleep where you can. Ideally seven to eight hours will do the job and will help to create the best foundations for a good day. There are numerous proven benefits of sleeping well amongst productivity, focus and mood.

Eat right and feel the benefits

Second; food. Eat right and you’ll be in a much better position to cope with the pressure of the working day. For breakfast, something with slow release energy will help you through the morning (porridge is perfect) followed by an enjoyable, healthy lunch.

Check out these healthy recipes!

Healthy food doesn’t need to mean a salad, it could be this delicious, veg packed take on egg fried rice, this handheld stuffed chicken caesar stuffed pitta, flavour packed vegan kale pesto pasta, or this decadent chicken shawarma bowl.

Keep hydrated

Finally, hydrate yourself. A reusable water bottle is great as it constantly reminds yourself to get in some H2O (and even a 2% drop in hydration can lead to a drop in mood so it’s a great habit to get into).

Coffee can be good, as a cup of coffee in the morning has been shown to have some benefits but don’t overdo it with the caffeine.

Herbal teas

Try to find a herbal, caffeine free tea that floats your boat. Peppermint, chamomile, or roobois tea can not only be delicious but could have additional benefits to mood and health.

Switch off social media – even if just for a little while

Person checking social media at their desk

With social media becoming a bigger and bigger part of how we communicate on both a business and personal level, this isn’t always entirely possible.

If you find social media is making things worse (and there’s nothing worse than watching the filtered, Instagram ready versions of other peoples lives when you’re having a bad day and can’t escape work) then switch it off for a little while and focus on the here and now. It may be what you need to stop feeling quite so overwhelmed.

Yoga and meditation

Person practising yoga and meditation

This may be a little more tricky. If you can’t find the space to do this then consider the desk yoga we linked to earlier in this video, but if you can find an empty meeting room or similar then you may want to take five to ten minutes to yourself and to focus and work on your breathing, some stretches and to get your head back in the game.

Have a chat with a colleague or management

Two people having a conversation

When you’re stressed it’s quite easy to feel like you’re the only person in the world who can deal with that problem and that nobody else will understand it, or that they will think you don’t know what you’re doing.

You’d be surprised how often someone will have a simple solution to a problem that you didn’t think of. Even if they don’t, talking openly about how you’re struggling may well lead to some top tips on how to overcome the day. Even a listening ear may be all you need to feel less stressed.

If you feel that you need support then it may be fruitful to speak to a manager.

With mental health and stress at work being such a talking point, many companies have support systems in place to promote mental wellbeing at work and could be able to assist.

Schedule in “mini breaks” through the day

We’re not talking about taking a half hour break every couple of hours (and if anyone knows of a job that allows for that, then please do let us know) but more planning in a little five minutes every so often to help give your brain a chance to catch up with yourself.

If you try to power through a large task without giving yourself a quick chance for your mind and body to catch breath, you’ll create more issues for yourself and end up overwhelmed.

Mini-breaks of five minutes or so can be a chance to stretch your legs, relax, grab a tea or coffee, and generally just to unwind even for a moment.

Create a playlist for relaxing

Person relaxing listening to music

This is one of the ways to relax that will differ from person to person but is a great way to deal with stress at work. If you have headphones in you can relax whilst getting on with your job (but don’t let it be detrimental to taking a break when you need it!). Music can be great for providing calm even in a busy and hectic workplace.

Think about what music in your life make you feel calm, relaxed, and happy. Put them into a playlist and if you need it, take a moment to plug yourself in, listen, and enjoy.

You may feel more focus and less pressure by switching off from the outside world just for a little while.

Scribble and doodle to your hearts content

It may seem daft, but doodling away on a scrap piece of paper can have a huge amount of benefit to your stress levels.

This wonderful TED Talk from Sunni Brown talks up the benefit of doodling, not just for creativity but also as a form of meditation and relaxation. Who would have thought that scribbling away could be good for your health?

If all else fails, it’s chocolate time!

Yep, milk and dark chocolate can help reduce your perceived stress levels!

Definitely something to enjoy in moderation but even a small amount of chocolate has been found to reduce stress. What a perfect excuse!

There we have it; ten ways to help control stress, anxiety and your mood at work. Whether focusing on breathing exercises, walking around the block, having a conversation with a coworker or just enjoying a bar of chocolate we hope that these will have you feeling great in the workplace!

If you have any more tips then please do let us know! There are so many ways you can capture a moment of personal time to help feel better at work and also in your outside life. Helping others is another source of joy for many people, and who knows, you may just possess the key for someone to turn their day around!

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