You know how it feels to have a challenging day at the office. It makes you anxious to get home and kick off your shoes for a little TLC in the form of a Netflix binge. What if you could help tame stress before your time clock sets you free?
You don’t need an in-office yoga studio to relax on the job. Here are eight ways to manage stress at work discreetly and restore your sense of calm.
1. Stroke Your Fingers
Sensory cues can stop spiraling future fears — like what your boss will do if you mess up the budget report. Relief is in the palm of your hands.
Take the index finger of your right hand and slowly move it around the outline of your left. Repeat with the right. Try not to think about anything. Only focus on the sensations.
2. Engage the Five Senses
Another sensory mindfulness exercise you can to calm racing thoughts is called 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. When you feel frantic, stop and list five things you can see.
Repeat this exercise by listing four things you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell and one you can taste. You’ll feel grounded in the present and gain needed perspective for moving forward.
3. Practice 2-to-1 Breathing
Your nervous system has two halves. The sympathetic side prepares you for the fight or flight response, but the parasympathetic portion helps you relax.
You can activate your parasympathetic nervous system by practicing 2-to-1 breathing. All you need to do is inhale, then exhale for twice as long. Repeat whenever and for as long as necessary to restore calm.
4. Take a Snack Break
Wait a second — does this advice mean stress-eating is a good thing? No, but if you mindfully enjoy a snack, you can help manage your tension at work.
Choose something that melts in your mouth, like chocolate. Stop typing away and staring at your screen while you enjoy a nibble. Instead, focus on the taste and texture as your treat dissolves on your tongue. How does it make you feel?
5. Perform a Body Scan
You can learn to perform a mindfulness body scan anywhere, not only when you sit in meditation. All you need is a few minutes of quiet.
Start by drawing your awareness to your breath. Then, beginning with your toes, work your way up your body, pausing to breathe into any areas that feel tight or sore.
6. Exit Stage Right
Sometimes, you need to walk away temporarily to prevent a minor problem from snowballing into an ongoing crisis. Maybe your fury at your supervisor for criticizing you in front of your colleagues is justified. However, retaliating with a tirade of your own can result in a pink slip.
If you need to, get up and take a walk around your building — the fresh air will help revive you, and the physical activity calms the fight-or-flight reflex. Sit in your car and let out a scream, or hide in the bathroom and let those threatening tears fall.
7. Thank a Colleague
Human beings evolved to help one another. One of the best things you can do to raise your vibration instantly is to thank a colleague for their kindness. Maybe they did nothing more than give you a sunny “good morning” when everyone else grumbled — recognize their positive outlook.
Gratitude can lower your cortisol levels by 23%. An excess of this stress hormone can lead to adverse health consequences like weight gain and heart disease. In thanking your colleagues, you help yourself — and improve your mood.
8. Bring on the Funnies
When was the last time you laughed until you nearly split? A hearty chuckle decreases your blood pressure and relaxes your muscles.
Keep a file on your computer filled with hilarious memes that never fail to bring you to happy tears. While you don’t want to put anything risqué on an employer-owned device, you can keep a book of naughtier jokes in your briefcase or backpack.
Make friends with the office jokester. While you don’t want to risk getting in trouble for too much water-cooler chit-chat, sharing a smile or two with a colleague helps ease stress and makes you feel less alone.
Manage Stress at Work With These 8 Tips
Nearly everyone experiences stress in the workplace. Learn how to manage stress at work by using the eight tips above.