March 14th, 2017
It's only 10 in the morning, and you already want to bang your head against your desk. We've all been there. Whether it's a difficult call, a rude customer, a horrendous meeting or that especially annoying coworker that you constantly pick up the slack for, stress seems to go hand in hand with a fast-paced work environment. Well, stop the rendition of a metal rock band with your head, and follow a few of these stress-busting tips for a more soothing day and week.
1. Breathe easy
As simple as it seems, take the time to stop and inhale and exhale deeply. During hectic times our breathing and circadian rhythm can be completely thrown off track. Take a couple minutes and do some exercises to help re-center yourself during the workday.
2. Stretch it out
Take a break. Get up and stretch. If you’re only able to take bathroom breaks, soak up every second of it! Getting your legs moving after sitting for an extended period helps wake up your body. Another option is to try progressive muscle relaxation. You’ll want to start at your toes and move your way up your body to your shoulders. Slowly tighten up a concentrated muscle group, hold for a few seconds and then release. Proceed to the next group and repeat. This technique is used to help reduce anxiety and stress, and can easily be done while sitting in your chair.
3. Add some sparkle
This is my favorite de-stressing technique. All you need is a clear squeeze bottle, glitter in your favorite colors and some glue. Mix it all together, and it creates a swirling dance of sparkle that calms the mind. You can find in-depth instructions on Pinterest or Google. Something about this exercise really does help.
4. Fix your environment
If you’re able to add some knickknacks or personal items to your desk, definitely take advantage of it. Try and include some soft colors around your desk. Soft greys and light blues are the best. Add a succulent plant in a mini terrarium; they are easy to keep alive, and plants have shown to decrease anxiety and stress. Finally, if you enjoy essential oils, go for lavender and rose. Need a trick for keeping those scents in your space? Dampen a thin cloth and keep in a closed compact or mirror. This way you won't irritate your coworkers’ noses nearby.
5. Coloring time
Coloring isn't just for kids anymore. The adult coloring world has recently exploded onto the scene! John Hopkins University likened coloring to an alternative kind of meditation. There are even art therapy sessions proven to help adults deal with high stress, anxiety and negative thoughts. With a myriad of categories available, find a coloring book that will calm your mindset and help you zone out of any real world stressors.
6. Gadgets and apps
You're probably on your phone right now, so open up your app store and download a game or two. Not into Candy Crush Saga or Minesweeper Q? Look into Colorfy, the mobile app version of an adult coloring book. If you need something a little more tangible, a stress ball or even some Play-Doh can help break up the hectic pace of work. One of the best gadgets I’ve bought was Cubix’s Fidget Cube. There are a few variations of these out, but it’s basically a cube with anxiety-reducing gadgets attached to it. Whether you need to click, squeeze or pull on something, this toy helps a ton!
7. Follow the beat
Plug in your headphones and sign up for Pandora, Spotify, iTunes or another music app and search for some calming music. It doesn't have to be classical — although that has shown to ease tension during high-stress moments. Music that you associate with happy memories will help your brain release more dopamine, helping you rest at ease.
8. Step away
You stare at your computer screen all day and then go home to your TV, tablet and phone. Being constantly stimulated by screens has been shown to be harmful over time. Computer use late at night can even affect your sleeping habits! Try to go offline at least an hour before bedtime for a better night’s sleep. Studies from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and the University of Illinois linked mobile and computer use to increased stress levels, depression and anxiety in adults. The science is clear: more screen time equals poor health. For the women out there, we tend to harbor more stress than men, and our side affects are more severe. Even a five-minute timeout can help give your brain (and eyes) the break it needs.
It's a crazy, hectic, but beautiful world out there. Stress and anxiety can immediately ruin a perfectly good day. Try to use some of these tips to break up the long workday. Just breathe; you got this.