Mental health issues such as stress and anxiety are among the main reasons for work absence.Got a weekly to-do list that seems to get longer, not shorter? Or maybe your next sales call just seems too daunting after a day of tough customers?
Don’t worry, we’re here today to talk about how you can boot stress out of your workday to make you feel better about yourself and your job.
Here are our seven ways to combat stress at work and to increase your wellbeing. You can practise these techniques sitting at your desk or during your break.
1 Muscle relaxation
Certain muscles in your body can tense up when you feel stressed. Before you know it, the neck aches and the heaviness around your shoulders become the norm.
Progressive muscle relaxation techniques, where you focus on one set of muscles at a time by tensing and then relaxing them, can relax your whole body and your mind. Start with one foot, tense the muscles. Relax them. Move on to the other foot. Then your legs, thighs, hips, stomach, chest, back, neck, shoulders, and face.
A five-minute break or your lunch period is a great time to try this. Forget all about your job stress, and focus solely on the set of muscles that you’re stretching. The more you do this, the more you’ll be able to feel when your muscles are tense and when they aren’t.
2 Deep breathing
Deep breathing is a quick, free, and easy way to calm your mind and let your workplace stress seep out of you.The best thing about this method is that you can practise it anytime—you breathe 24/7, after all.
Sit in a comfortable way, keep your back straight, and start to breathe through your nose. Exhale through your mouth and you’ll be able to feel the air leave your body.
Placing one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest can help you to feel the inflation and deflation of your body as you inhale and exhale the breaths. Don’t forget to focus on each breath, in and out.
3 Get creative
For some of us, the urge to doodle or scribble can be overwhelming when we’re feeling anxious at work. Have a notepad at your desk that is just for quick moments when you need to scribble.
You might just need to draw a heart or colour in half of a checkerboard, but your concentration will drift from your tasks and to your doodle for a few seconds, and you’ll regain energy.
Listening to music (if your office allows it) and writing in a journal are also effective ways to reduce stress.
One of the best relaxation techniques for stress can come from a quick chat with your colleague.
We’re talking about laughter of course. Laughing can soothe tension, it increases the amount of endorphins released by your brain, and it can help you form relationships.
It’s very hard to feel angry, sad, or anxious when you’re laughing—so why not try to let a little more laughter into your life.
We recommend joke books.
Different types of meditation work for different people. We suggest mindfulness. Take five or ten minutes of your day, and forget about the to-do list. Focus only on what is going on right now.
Close your eyes, and think about your breathing—literally concentrate on the sensation of air flowing into your nostrils and then out of your mouth.
Once you’ve done this, try to slowly become aware of sounds, thoughts, and sensations. If you lose control of your thoughts and workplace stress gets in, start again and focus on your breathing. Repeat. Meditation can slow your heart rate and help to restore your focus for the tasks ahead of you.
Like with step two, ensure you’re in a comfortable sitting position. For both of these techniques, a quiet place is best.
For some people, a gym session before or after work is their way of burning stress. But during office hours what happens if your anxiety levels rise? You can’t just take an hour off and jog your problems away.
At BrightHR, we encourage our staff to take five. A five-minute walk outside not only gives you chance to get some fresh air, but the rhythm of walking can help you to forget about your feelings of anxiety.
For added distraction, go for a walk with a colleague. Make a rule where you don’t talk about work. You’ll be laughing and smiling in no time.
7 Take a visual holiday
We all daydream, right? All of a sudden a thought comes into your head and five minutes later your boss is trying to get your attention and you’re not sure where the time went. Well, we want you to do that… knowingly.
Picture your favourite place to be. It might be somewhere really clichéd like on a beach with a cocktail, enjoying the sun, or it might be sitting round the dining table with your housemates enjoying a bottle of wine and playing a board game. Or anything else.
Think about it, visualise it. Engage your senses. What are you looking at, what smells are there, what objects are there to touch? If this is your favourite place, all of these things will make you feel uplifted.
Doing this for a few minutes a day can help to relax your mind and your body, and could increase your energy levels for the next assignment to do or call you need to make.
Do you have another technique for combating occupational stress in the workplace? Let us know.