Stress is part of every work day. In fact, many of us proudly declare ourselves “stress junkies” and compete to see how many trips to the coffee cart, how many last-minute deadlines, and how many 12-hour workdays we can handle.
But too much stress can mess up your performance in the workplace, not to mention your overall health and your earning power. So, we understand you’re stuck at the office, but we’d really like you to take at least one ten-minute de-stress break every workday.
Here are some of our favorite ways to cut workday stress.
Take a Walk
You know exercise is good for your health. But did you know it also reduces stress hormones? So one of your best ten-minute de-stress breaks is to head out for a quick walk, even if it’s just around the block or around the parking lot. (If the weather is nasty or there’s no place to walk, try this alternative: Find an empty conference room or other space, put your favorite band on your MP3 player, pop in your ear phones and bop around for ten minutes. We're serious.)
Talk to Someone Who Cares
Talking with someone you care about, and who you know will listen to you, is another great way to cut stress, especially if you can talk about whatever is stressing you out. So if you have a workplace friend you feel comfortable talking with, taking ten minutes for a conversation can be a great de-stresser. For extra effect, combine these two tips by meeting your friend for a ten-minute walk. And, if you can get your mom on the phone for some advice, even better.
Have a Chuckle
Laughter is another way to reduce stress hormones, so taking a ten minute break to watch a funny video or read a couple of pages of your favorite comic strip. If watching others screw up makes you laugh (like it does for us) try FAIL Blog, where the fails seem to get funnier the more you scroll down.
Use a Sticker
OK, we admit this is the weirder side of stress relief. But deep breathing is a major de-stresser as well as a good way to get extra oxygen to your brain. So get yourself a small sticker with any image you might find relaxing. Attach it to your monitor or your phone—somewhere you look frequently. Whenever your eye falls on the sticker, force yourself to stop and take a few deep breaths, thinking “I am…” on the in-breath and “…relaxed” on the out-breath. After a while, the mere sight of the sticker will automatically help you relax. (Here’s a more detailed description of this exercise which comes from Stress-Relief-Tools.com.)
Give Your Muscles a Stretch
A stretch to your muscles will automatically relax your mind. A few quick stretches, even while sitting in your office chair can lower your stress level big-time. Here’s a short routine of workplace stretches that will decrease your stress level. (Be careful to roll your head forward, but not backward!)
There’s an App for That
Smartphone app stores have tons of apps designed to help you relax and de-stress, and many of them are free. Download one, and then take ten minutes to lean back and listen to the relaxation sounds. We like iRelax Melodies, which lets you mix-and-match your own relaxation audio.
Play With Your Toys
You heard us. Every workspace should have toys you can play with when stress gets out of hand. The best ones let you fiddle while your mind wanders, which is good for your hands and wrists as well as your stress level. We like the Tangle, which come in a wide range of prices and has the distinction of being the only object sold by both Walmart Stores and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Are you feeling less stressed already? We hope so. And remember: One ten-minute de-stressing break every workday is a good idea. Two or three would be even better.