If your “heigh-ho heigh-ho” is turning into a “take this job and shove it," you probably wish you were little more Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and a little less Johnny Paycheck. But you’re not stuck swimming in stress until quitting time. You can take ten minutes and lower your stress levels. Here are seven ways to destress at work in 10 minutes or less.
You don’t need special equipment or preparation for meditation, which makes it perfect for the workplace. Whether you have a guided meditation on an app or a mantra, taking a few minutes out of the hectic day to clear your mind will lower your stress level. It will also restore some sense of wellbeing.
Stress can lead you to take rapid, shallow breaths without realizing it. Breathing exercises can break you out of that stress rhythm and refocus your mind. It’s as simple as closing your eyes and breathing in deeply and then exhaling. Regardless of how you approach breathing exercises, it’s a proven method for releasing stress.
The ultimate de-stressor is Mother Nature. Not only is the great outdoors a proven way to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, researchers are also studying its vital role in mental health treatments. When you go outside, you benefit from the vitamin D you get from sunshine and the boost from being around a green space. Even 10 minutes sitting outside on a park bench can do you and your stress levels some good.
It’s a fact that exercise helps alleviate stress. But if you don’t have time to squeeze in a half-hour workout, you can still get rid of tension by stretching. Try reaching down and trying to touch your toes. A good butterfly stretch or a yoga downward dog can release muscle tension that you're unknowingly holding in your body. Stretching will slow your breathing rate and lower your blood pressure.
There’s a reason essential oils have an enthusiastic following. A few drops of lavender or peppermint in a diffuser, or even dabbed on your temples and wrists, can calm you. Scientists have proven lavender helps stress, agitation, and disordered sleep. In fact, lavender is about as effective as the anti-anxiety drug Ativan in reducing anxiety. Lemon, clary sage and jasmine are some other essential oils that can help you de-stress.
Thousands of years of acupuncture and acupressure practice in East Asia shows that stimulating certain points can lower your stress. TouchPoint wearables also stimulate certain points to lower your stress and improve your sleep. Don’t dismiss these points of stress as hocus-pocus. These are very quick ways to blow off steam and feel more relaxed.
If your coworkers bring their dogs, or you have an office cat, this de-stressor is for you! Research shows interacting with animals lowers your cortisol levels and boosts your mood. And it’s not just cats and dogs. Fish or guinea pigs can also help lower stress levels, and even help people with ADHD or autism function better. So if you’re feeling stressed out, it’s a good time to cuddle up to furry four-legged creatures in your office — or even feed the fish, if there's an aquarium.
Just one or two of these methods can lower your blood pressure, and have you breathing easier, even on the most hectic day. In addition to changing the way you feel right now, you'll be improving your long-term health.
Chen Zhan began designing office spaces when he noticed the women he worked with donning sweaters, while the men turned continually turned the temperature down. He now consults with companies around the globe to improve company performance. Sometimes it’s as simple as adding some space heaters and standing desks.
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