Almost every job comes with its share of difficulty and conflict, and these pressures can add up quickly, especially if you work in a field with a seasonal ebb and flow of deadlines during “the busy season.” Even if you love your job, there are bound to be issues that crop up and leave you feeling exhausted as you work through them.
But if you think that there’s no way you can find the time for a de-stressing session during your work day, we have great news: It doesn’t take more than a few minutes, and adding a bit of mindfulness to your day can make a world of difference in your mood. By doing something as simple as a 60-second breathing exercise or finding a moment for yourself during the day, you can begin to practice being calm and centered—even while at work. Try these eight tips so that you stay cool and calm in the workplace.
1. Just Breathe
The simplest thing you can do to calm yourself in a stressful situation is to focus on your breathing. Spend one minute with your eyes closed, concentrating on your breath as you inhale and exhale. If that’s too abstract, many psychologists and anxiety specialists recommend the 4-7-8 breathing technique to get calm. To do this, inhale as you count to four, hold your breath as you count to seven and exhale as you count to eight. This deep breathing triggers your body to relax, and the more you practice, the quicker your relaxation response will be. Give it a try for a minute or two when you start to feel your pulse quickening.
2. Meditate for a Minute
If you’re the kind of person who prefers more direct instruction than “just breathe,” try daily meditation with an app on your computer or tablet. Having a soothing voice talk you through what to think about and how to breathe can be a great way to let go of your tension for a few minutes, so let your app take charge! Meditation is a learned skill, so you’ll get the best results if you practice at the same time every day instead of waiting until your stress levels are through the roof to give it a go. With practice, you’ll be able to stay focused for longer when you really need to.
3. Go Outside
There’s a lot of evidence that spending time in nature takes a big bite out of your stress levels. Take advantage by heading outdoors for your coffee break or during lunch. Even just 10 to 15 minutes of fresh air in a nearby park will help you shake off the stress of the office and get re-centered. If you can’t go outdoors, try loading up some photos of favorite places—whether you’ve been there or not—on your computer so you can look at them during your break, as even images of nature can make a difference.
4. Take a Walk
You can get more bang for your buck on your break if you keep your body in motion when you go outside. Try taking a walk around the block or to a local sandwich shop to grab lunch. Getting your legs moving will boost endorphins, improve your energy levels and help you decrease feelings of fatigue. It’s great for your overall health, and if you take two short 15-minute breaks to walk during the day, you’ll also have added a half hour of heart-healthy exercise to your week—a win-win for your overall health.
5. Stretch It Out
Most people don’t have the time or space for a full yoga workout during the work day. But adding a few stretches to your routine can help release tension and prevent repetitive stress injuries that result from hunching over a computer for hours on end. To open the chest, stand up straight and clasp your hands behind your back and press them towards the floor, breathing deeply as you do so. You can turn this into a full body stretch by bending forward at the waist, keeping your hands clasped and moving them towards the sky as you bend. Adding a simple stretch to your routine every hour or two will keep your blood moving and muscles loose.
6. Find Your Spot
If you don’t have your own office—or even a cubicle or desk—try to find a place you can go to recharge for a minute or two when you feel your stress levels rising. The right place for you will depend on your personality. If you’re an introvert, seek out a place where you can be alone, even if that means a private meeting room or a back stairwell. If you’re an extrovert, try taking your break in a communal spot like the lunch room, where you can blow off steam by chatting about your latest Netflix binge or favorite restaurant.
7. Create a Haven
If you do have a workspace you can personalize, take advantage! Do your best to surround yourself with things you love: photos of family and friends, a reminder of your favorite vacation or even a good-luck charm you’ve had since childhood. It can also be helpful to arm yourself with a white noise machine or headphones that let you pipe in soothing nature sounds or your favorite soft music to help you focus. A desktop aromatherapy diffuser filled with relaxing scents can also help you let go of the pressures of the day for a minute.
8. Write It Down
If you’re having trouble letting go of a particular problem at work, try keeping a journal about your worries. Journaling helps reduce stress by allowing you to name your problems and get your concerns out in the open. You might also find that the act of writing helps you organize your thoughts, and it can be a great first step to seeing the problem — and potential solutions — more clearly.
These tips should help you get a handle on your work stress, but if you’re already feeling anxious and wondering how you’ll ever put them all into action, relax! Choose the most doable suggestion here and give it a try for a week or two. Once you’ve made that part of your routine, you can try adding another stress-busting tip into your day. You don’t have to do everything at once, and you’ll feel happier and more in control with even just a few moments of calm in your day.
So what are you waiting for? Pick a tip and devote 10 minutes to making it a part of your work day—you’ll be glad you did!