It’s important to recognize when our stress levels are getting too high and that we develop the ability to calm down and center ourselves. Stress has a sneaky tendency to affect us in numerous ways including our physical and mental health and in our relationships at home and at work. No matter what kind of work we do, many of us get to a point in our day when stress reaches a breaking point. Rather than blow up at co-workers, get upset, or hyperventilate, here are some quick things you can do to calm down, de-stress and continue on with your day.
Here are a few things you can do to de-stress at work:
1. Declutter your desk
What? Clean you say? Yes! Stop what you’re doing, look at your work space and take 5 minutes to clean things up. Get rid of notes you no longer need, clean up some of those coffee stains from the last few days, and tidy things up a bit. Taking a moment to do this will distract you from the source of your stress and help you concentrate on a different task. Distraction is a good way to take your mind off of things that you cannot change immediately. This is a learned skill that you can perfect with practice.
2. Control your breathing
This may seem obvious but it is one of the most common techniques used to help calm you down when you are starting to feel overwhelmed. It takes a bit of practice and concentration but doing this regularly is an effective way to cope with stressful moment. Close your eyes, center yourself in your chair, put on some headphones to block out the noise in the office, and take a slow, deep, breathe in through your nose. Picture your stomach inflating and expanding as the breath fills you up. When you can’t take in anymore air, hold the breath for 3 seconds, then slowly let the air out through your mouth envisioning your emotions leaving your body with that breath out. Do this over 3-times to start feeling its effect.
3. Focus on your senses
This is a classic tool that is used often in therapy with clients that need a moment to ground themselves and get in touch with their emotions. Similar to meditation, it begins with sitting comfortably in your chair and sensing your toes, tensing and then slowly releasing the muscles. Continue by working your way up your legs, pelvis, and upper body, tensing and releasing different muscle groups one at a time for a few seconds, then releasing. Even include the muscles in your neck and face! You can do this exercise more than once if you need to, until you feel more relaxed and ready to restart.
4. Tune out by tuning in
Grab you headphones and your smartphone, or any music app on your computer, and tune into something relaxing for 5-minutes. Find some relaxing sounds like beach waves or meditation sounds on YouTube® and escape the stress. It will help you take your focus off of work and re-channel it elsewhere. Make an effort to avoid thinking about work or the things that are stressing you out. Focus on the sounds and how they make you feel. If you prefer a guided meditation there are plenty online that will have a soft voice instructing you on what to do.
Written by: Mayte Parada, PhD