Nothing beats taking a physical break from your desk and going out for a brief walk in the fresh air, but we don’t always have the time to get away. By taking just a few moments to mentally relax and re-charge ourselves at our workstations, we can give ourselves a strong advantage, whether that is before heading into a meeting or in order to take on the rest of the work day.
Any of the following six tips will help you recharge during your hectic workday and help prevent you from succumbing to physical signs of stress:
1 - Stretch
Sitting in a chair all day wreaks havoc on your spine. Depending on your physical limitations and flexibility, and perhaps your level of privacy at your workstation, there are a few options for stretching at your desk:
- Rotate your wrists, clockwise and then counter-clockwise, several times, to release the tension in your wrists.
- Drop your head so that your chin touches your chest, and then roll your head from side to side, releasing tension in your neck.
- Reach up with both arms and really feel the stress you have taken in through your shoulders leave through the ends of your fingertips. Hold this position for several seconds before putting your arms back down, and repeat as many times as you feel necessary to feel a change in your physical tension and posture.
- If you have no limitations, stand up and bend over to touch your toes, releasing the tension from your lower back. Again, take into account your own flexibility before selecting which moves to use.
2 - Listen to Music
For the sake of your co-workers, preferably with headphones! Science has proven that listening to music can trigger chemicals in your brain that help you to relax. Some people like to work while listening to music, and that is an individual choice that has to be agreed upon by your manager, but taking a break to listen to your favorite song or piece of music in the middle of the day will improve your mood and help to make you more productive for the remainder of the day.
3 - Read the Newspaper
This is not so much about getting caught up on current events as it is about distracting yourself from workplace stress and taking your eyes off a computer screen. Most office spaces keep a newspaper nearby. Take a break from your work and read the newspaper or a magazine, or find a crossword puzzle to complete. Anything that will completely distract your mind from your work at hand, giving it a chance to refocus and subsequently reset itself. You will find that you are better able to concentrate for the remainder of the day.
4 - Tidy up Your Workspace
Take a ten-minute break and tidy up your desk. File papers where they need to go, organize the piles you must have on your desk into urgent and not-so-urgent, clean out and organize your e-mails and clear your voicemail. Creating an organized workspace provides you with a sense of accomplishment and a sense of control that positively influences your productivity. You will thank yourself the next day, when things are easier to find than they were yesterday!
5 - Release the Stress
Sometimes, setting our minds free of whatever is bothering us is as easy as writing it down or saying it out loud. You can do through journaling, by writing it down and releasing it from your mind, or by talking to someone. Depending on your personal preference, you may want to keep your thoughts private, in which case you are better to write them in a journal, to release them from your mind now and for self-reflection at a later date.
If you are okay with sharing your thoughts and if you have someone you can trust to listen, call a friend or family member and get things off your chest. Even if you don’t want to share your problems, sometimes hearing a friendly, trusted voice can really help to lift your spirits and help you get on with the rest of your day.
6 - Breathe Deeply
This is the most simple of all six techniques. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower physical and mental stress because you are forcing yourself to slow down and concentrate. Deep breathing also forces the lungs to expand which provides your organs with a gentle massage.
While focusing on slowing and deepening your breathing, distract your mind and think about something you are thankful for today, or imagine your ideal vacation spot and transport yourself there, mentally, for a few moments. Doing this while breathing deeply will provide you with clarity and will help you to think more rationally for the remainder of your workday.
Self-care is so important. Throughout the workday, we spend all our time taking care of business. Be sure to take at least a few moments to take care of yourself as well.