Everybody deals with some level of stress at work. Sometimes it’s minor but sometimes it’s more severe, and when we avoid dealing with that stress, it can cause health problems like headaches, upset stomachs, lack of sleep, irritability and more serious problems such as depression or ulcers.
There are a number of relaxation techniques you can implement to manage work-related stress. Adding these techniques into your daily routine can make a huge difference in how you handle those stressful workdays:
1. Breathe Deeply
If you feel upset, angry or overwhelmed, give yourself a “time out.” Go into your office or another quiet space and practice deep breathing. Believe it or not, deep breathing actually counters the effects of stress by lowering your blood pressure and slowing down your heart rate. Here’s how you do it:
+ Sit up straight with your eyes closed, one hand on your stomach
+ Slowly inhale through your nose, concentrating on the breath moving from your belly toward the top of your head
+ Exhale slowly by imaging the breath in reverse, moving from the top of your head down to your belly
+ Repeat this process, for about 5 minutes, focusing intently on your breathing
2. Take a Short Walk
Movement helps to release endorphins that make us feel good, so if you are feeling stressed, take a walk around the building. If weather keeps you indoors, do some simple stretches like shoulder shrugs and head rolls. The key is to move slowly while you perform these exercises so you can concentrate on the movements and your breathing. If you’re able to get out and take a walk, 10-15 minutes is all it usually takes to decompress and get your mind to relax.
3. Go to Your Happy Place
There are studies that show how focusing on a place that represents happiness and relaxation can help bring your stress levels down, lower your blood pressure and release stress. Your happy place is going to be specific to you, so don’t worry about what it is. For some it could be a beach or a wooded path, riding a horse or floating in the water. Whatever image makes you feel relaxed is the image you want to think about. Close your eyes while you are thinking of this place and just let your whole body and mind rest as you imagine yourself in that place.
4. Listen to Music
Music is known for being a mood enhancer. Some people relax to soothing instrumentals while others get the benefits of stress reduction by blaring their favorite song and singing out loud. Whatever appeals to you is what to do here. If you can’t blast your favorite tune in the office, get an MP3 player with headphones and have your favorite songs downloaded onto it so you’re ready. When you need to decompress, put the headphones on and hit play… it’ll help you relax and feel better in no time.
5. Write in a Journal
Sometimes, when things are stressful, it’s easy to focus on all the bad going on around you. One of the most effective ways to relax and refocus your energy is to think about all the good things going on in your life. Get into the habit of keeping a gratitude journal. When you feel frustrated and tense, get out your journal and write down 5 or 10 things you are thankful for. Once you change your focus to positive things, your anger and frustration will automatically start to dissipate. Your stress levels will begin to reflect that positive redirection, and you will feel calmer and more centered.
These relaxation techniques are simple, easy ways to manage your stress. Use these methods to improve your mood, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and get your mindset back on track.