Work can get incredibly stressful at times, no matter what you happen to do for a living. You have to be able to maintain high performance standards while also looking for ways to stand out from the crowd.
It’s no wonder that people typically cite their work as one of the biggest sources of stress in their lives.
There are even workplaces so stressful that job applicants must complete psychological profile quizzes before they can be considered for employment.
Even if you may not feel stressed in the moment, past stresses can accumulate and manifest in the body over time.
It’s no wonder that stress has been linked to many different illnesses and diseases.
Equally important is how much stress can interfere with your typical mindset, causing negative feelings and potentially disrupting your personal life as a result.
So even if your work life has been relatively calm and stress-free as of late, it would still be a good idea to review the tips below for workplace stress relief activities.
You may also want to check out this list of ideas for fun Fridays at the workplace.
A Good Old-Fashioned Lunch Break
There’s a good reason that lunch breaks are legally mandated. They’re a great way to break up the workday, and they offer a great opportunity to destress naturally.
So first and foremost, if you’ve been avoiding taking lunch breaks recently to try and finish more work, take a moment to reconsider.
Giving yourself time to decompress in the middle of the workday is healthy for a number of reasons.
It gives you the chance to give your eyes a break from staring at a screen all day, which can cause strain and a depreciation in the quality of your eyesight.
A lunch break also gives you a chance to step out of your professional mindset, which is why we highly recommend leaving your office building, if possible.
Once you’ve removed yourself from the office, it’s easier to gain a different perspective on the day’s problems.
Try to find a place where you can safely sit, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. (We’ll have some specific tips for breathing exercises later in the article.)
By the time you return to the office and your work, you’ll be more likely to feel recharged and prepared to face the day and its many hurdles.
Take a Lap
There are certainly times when the office itself can feel constrictive and even claustrophobic.
This sensation only aggravates employees and places them more on edge, meaning they’ll be more likely to respond negatively to difficult situations.
If you happen to work in a cubicle or a small office that’s detached from the rest of the office and your co-workers, then you may want to take a lap around the office a few times a day.
It’s a simple activity, but even this small amount of exercise can help your brain to process information more efficiently.
It also gives you the opportunity to say a quick hello to your co-workers. Try not to linger and waste time in idle conversation, but a few brief social interactions can help motivate you to finish your tasks.
The great thing about breathing exercises is that they can be used anywhere at all, at any time or place.
Many people like to close their eyes during breathing exercises to limit distractions, but this isn’t necessary.
There are many different breathing exercises that can help you lower your stress levels, but we’ll focus on just one simple exercise that works well and is easy to remember.
Sit or stand and do your best to stay relatively still. Breathe in through your nose, for about 5 seconds. Then, hold your breath for about 2 seconds. Now, exhale through your mouth for anywhere between 3 and 5 seconds.
Once you’re familiar with the rhythm, you won’t need to think about the technique at all, it will just happen naturally.
Focus on your breath as it enters your lung, and how your chest expands and falls again as you exhale.
It may sound simplistic, but this technique serves as a basis for many different forms of meditation.
Go to Your Happy Place
When you were a child, you may have encountered the psychological concept of creating a happy place for yourself.
It can be a great tool for helping children to calm down when they find themselves in the middle of a fit or a difficult situation.
But we have some good news: this method doesn’t have to be just for kids. You can invent a happy place to help out with future stresses.
Try starting with a physical location. Was there a specific vacation that you enjoyed greatly and remember fondly?
Another simple idea is to picture yourself at a beach, any beach in the world. Maybe some of your loved ones are there. Or maybe your happy place is just quiet and peaceful, safe from the noise and nonsense of the outside world.
Try committing certain details to memory. Then, when you find yourself in a highly stressful environment, think back on your happy place.
Just that idea has the potential to lower your blood pressure and allow you to think more clearly.
A Cup of Tea
Many offices provide tea or other healthy beverages for their employees. If your office only offers coffee or doesn’t provide beverages, make a note to pick up a big box of herbal tea the next time you’re at the grocery store.
Tea has an extremely long shelf life, meaning you can keep your box of tea in your desk or nearby your workspace, more or less indefinitely.
Herbal teas, in particular, have been shown to have mild calming effects. But more importantly, over time you’ll come to associate tea (or your beverage of choice) with a small break in your workday and a conscious effort to de-stress.
And that psychological association can have an even greater impact on your mental health.
However, we would recommend staying away from any beverages containing caffeine, which can increase anxiety and make you more irritable.