At any stage of your career or job, you will encounter some type of stress. Big or small it is there. I know, I have experienced it! You might be facing some difficult deadlines, taking on more than you can handle, dealing with uncomfortable co-workers…either way, there can be a million reasons why you find yourself stressed at work.
According to research, the percentage of Americans who are stressed at work is high, and it’s only getting higher. According to the CDC’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, studies have found the number of Americans who are “extremely stressed at work” range between 29 percent to 40 percent.
Unfortunately, work stress has significant health consequences that range from the relatively benign—more colds and flus—to the more serious, like heart disease and metabolic syndrome. But, because stress at work is so common, finding a low-stress job may be difficult or impossible for many people. A more realistic choice would be to simply adopt more effective strategies to reduce that stress!
When you’re stuck at work and freaking out, here are a few easy ways to de-stress.
6 Easy Ways to De-Stress When You Can’t Leave Your Desk
Take a break and have a snack!
It might have been a few hours since you have eaten, so a drop in blood sugar could be making things worse. When you have a low blood sugar, you feel more stress, which can make you more anxious.
Keep some healthy snacks at your desk, high in protein, to help regulate your blood sugar and give you a chance to relax, eat something and take a break!
Find an upbeat station and play some MUSIC!
If you have a GMail, then you can access some free music! Make a playlist of some of your favorite songs so you are ready to go when you need them! Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. This type of music can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones. Music, in short, can act as a powerful stress management tool in our lives.
As music can absorb our attention, it acts as a distraction at the same time it helps to explore emotions. This means it can be a great aid to meditation, helping to prevent the mind wandering. If you get to a stressful moment at work and need a quick pick-me-up, hook up your earphones and play those tunes to help melt your stress away and turn it around. The soothing power of music is well-established. It has a unique link to our emotions, so can be an extremely effective stress management tool.
Update your YouTube Feed!
Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you to release anger and be more forgiving. Laughter is one of the best natural medicines around. Laughing boosts your endorphin production and has been shown to reduce stress, so don’t hold back. The next time you find yourself frazzled, pop over to YouTube and see what’s trending in the ‘comedy’ section, or do a quick search for the latest viral video. My favorite…Cats & Cucumbers!
Focus on something else
Sometimes, the best way to stop stress is to shift our focus away from our anxieties. If you like to sketch, pick up a pen and doodle for a few minutes or if your busy brain needs something a little more intense to draw its attention. The wonderful thing about doodling is that it is a whole brain activity—spontaneous, at times unconscious, self-soothing, satisfying, exploratory, memory-enhancing, and mindful. In essence, doodling (and drawing and painting and making things in general) can be a self-regulating experience as well as a pleasurable road map of thoughts and ideas. If doodling is not your thing, try playing some Sudoku. Playing Sudoku has been proven to relieve work related stress in a new different way. A Sudoku puzzle game engages you in a mentally challenging activity that is both fun and educational. The game encourages you to detached your thoughts about work and partially escape from the burden of the job. By having a considerable amount of time to have a break, but not to be idle, but instead continuously engage in an activity that does stimulates the you to think.
Stress can quickly take a physical toll on our bodies. It triggers our “flight or fight” response, which tells our muscles to tense and our breathing to speed up. The next time you’re stressing over something, notice your breath – it’s probably shallow and quick.
To fix this, channel your inner yogi and spend a minute breathing slowly, focusing on Breath Focus. Inhale for five seconds, pause, then exhale.
Breath focus helps you concentrate on slow, deep breathing and aids you in disengaging from distracting thoughts and sensations. It’s especially helpful if you tend to hold in your stomach.
First steps. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).
Breath focus in practice. Once you’ve taken the steps above, you can move on to regular practice of controlled breathing. As you sit comfortably with your eyes closed, blend deep breathing with helpful imagery and perhaps a focus word or phrase that helps you relax.
If you share an office with others, you don’t have to be super dramatic about it, gasping and sighing – just breathe and allow yourself to calm down. Studies have shown that this works: taking slow, deep breaths activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us chill out.
Tidy your space
If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your cubicle, the mess might just be adding to your stress. Get rid of the Post-It note reminders you don’t need anymore and anything else that doesn’t serve a purpose. If your virtual desktop needs a little love, spend a few minutes sorting through the files on your computer and deleting the ones you no longer need.
The human body is made up of tens of thousands of integrated biological and neurochemical systems, all of which are — yes — organized. Many of our cells operate on strict schedules, or circadian rhythms. Even at the atomic level, we are well-regulated and well-organized. Without this organization, our bodies would collapse into chaos.
It wouldn’t be surprising, then, if the reason we crave symmetry and cleanliness in our homes and work is to mirror the organization within our very own bodies. Neatness and order support health — and oppose chaos.
Regardless of the why, however, it’s clear that staying clean and organized is a good thing. It helps us feel better about ourselves, it keeps us productive and it may very well keep us physically fit. The next time we bemoan having to clean our desk space,, let’s try to keep these things in mind. We’ll feel much better when everything is organized.
Stress isn’t fun but there are definitely fun ways to de-stress. Do yourself a favor and take a little bit of time out at work when you need it, we’re not superhuman! Let me know what you think in the comments!
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