Stress is one of those things we all wish we didn’t have to deal with on a daily basis. While we can’t totally eliminate stress at work, learning how to manage it and stay productive can be a huge help. Taking a break to go for a walk, grab a snack or cup of tea, or read a chapter of a book can be great ways to get away from the hectic energy of your workday.
But what about those days when leaving your office just isn’t an option? Rather than staring at the clock counting the minutes until the end of the day, here are seven ways to de-stress without leaving your desk so you can quickly get back to being productive.
Squeeze in some stretches
According to experts everywhere, sitting has officially become the new smoking. While you’re hammering away at your keyboard, engrossed in your emails, your body is slowly but surely tensing up. Your shoulders will very subtly start to hunch, your back will round itself and you’ll feel like a tight ball of stress.
That’s where stretching comes in. You don’t need to google 80 stretches to try: just stand up and do what feels good. Stretch your arms out, shoulders, twist around comfortably (unless injured of course; be careful while you’re doing this) and whatever else feels right for you. A quick five-minute stretch break will give your mind a chance to reboot and your body will feel refreshed.
Quick tip: For the full de-stress effect, get out of your chair once an hour to do a few quick stretches.
Try a coloring book
Though it may seem counter-intuitive, one of the most effective ways to de-stress and keep productivity up during your workday is to step away from what you’re doing once in a while. You might be slammed with work and emails but a spending a few minutes coloring can have the therapeutic power to relax your mind and give you the motivation to refocus and get things done.
Adult coloring books have been trending for a while because they allow people to tap into their creative side and let their brain take a break. Some coloring book designs, such as mandalas, can have a meditative effect.
Quick tip: Keep your colored pencils and coloring book in your desk drawer so they’re easy to access at any time.
Focus on your breathing
You’ve heard the phrase, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and in this case, it rings true. A lot of the way you carry your stress is due to the way you’re sitting and working at your desk all day. A comfortable, ergonomic desk chair will make it easier to defuse some of the tension you carry.
Beyond your fancy chair, the way you breathe can also have an impact on your day-to-day comfort and well-being. Ever notice that when you answer an annoying email, you suddenly almost stop breathing? Take few deep inhales and exhales, focusing on nothing but the act of breathing in and out. When you take a minute before reacting to something that is causing you stress, you’ll be able to put it into perspective and move forward with the goal of resolving issues peacefully.
Quick tip: If you need a few minutes to calm down, try listening to soothing music or a podcast you enjoy.
Harness the power of music
Speaking of sounds, one of the best ways to de-stress is to listen to music. Classical seems to be the choice of many wellness experts. If you’re not a fan or not sure where to start, pull up any radio app on your phone or desktop and type in relaxing words: chill, calm, relax. A list of songs will pop up for you to listen to while you work or to take a break from what you’re doing.
While classical may be the obvious choice, sometimes just listening to whatever genre of music you’re in the mood for can have a positive effect. If you’re not the type who can listen to music while you’re working, just listen to it on your lunch break. At the very least, it’ll be something to look forward to.
Quick tip: Find music that works for you (opt for instrumental if lyrics tend to distract you) and have it playing throughout your day. You may find you don’t reach your peak stress levels when you’re in that zone.
Put your feet up
Similar to having an ergonomic chair, a foot rest is a great way to reduce physical stress on your body. It also can help to keep your body in the right position, ensuring your muscles tense up less often—or not at all. Foot rests can also help relieve pressure on the lower back, prevent blood clots related to deep vein thrombosis, and decrease swelling and varicose veins.
Quick tip: Ask your employer to provide an ergonomically friendly foot rest. It will encourage you to sit correctly and reduce stress on your body throughout the day.
Do a mini workout
This is entirely dependent on how comfortable you are and how flexible your office is. If you’re a lone ranger working on your own time in a home office, a quick workout might be just what you need in the middle of a chaotic day. There are many exercises to choose from, so it’s usually better to follow an expert’s advice on exercises you can do at your desk. Not only will you reduce your stress levels, but an a few extra minutes of exercise every day can only help your reach and maintain fitness goals.
If you work in an office with other people, keep it simple. For instance, do a daily plank break—a two-minute plank every couple of hours. Any exercise is better than none at all, and a little physical activity will give you that boost of energy you need to get through the rest of the day.
Quick tip: Remember to take dress code into consideration. Do simple exercises that you don’t require a particular workout-friendly outfit.
I’m sure you were waiting to hear this one. It’s frequently suggested and for good reason. Meditation is proven to reduce stress levels and you can do it anywhere. If you’re new to meditation, Headspace is an awesome app that makes it easy. You can choose how long you want to meditate, whether to have a guided or a white noise session, and so on. It eliminates the uncertainty and allows you to jump right in.
Quick tip: Just DO IT. Even if you’re skeptical of the powers of meditation, give it a try. After all, how will you know whether something can help you if you won’t give it chance?
Ultimately, when it comes to de-stressing, you have to figure out what works for you. Desk workouts work great for some people, while others love taking a break and coloring for a bit. Experiment until you find a routine that melts the stress away.
Do you have any other strategies for de-stressing at work? Let us know in the comments below!