83% of us state that work is our primary source of stress (APA Excellency Stress & Management Report 2017) So what can we do to stay calm at work? Before you panic from stress overload here are 5 ways to de-stress.
1.Go for a 30 minute walk
Not only will this remove you from your stressful environment but walking is also a great problem solver. According to researchers at Stanford University, as we walk the creative and problem solving part of the brain lights up. You might discover a new solution to a problem that is causing you stress at work. And of course you’ll be getting exercise which reduces cortisol in the body. Not to mention the fresh air and Vitamin D you’ll be getting.
2. Take a Lunch Break
Oh, did you know this already? Then why aren’t you doing it? According to research by BUPA only 30% of us are taking our lunch breaks. People have fought hard for your right to a lunch break! Working through your lunch will only increase your stress levels and you are actually less productive if you work through your lunch. Resulting in that work load only piling up instead of decreasing.
If you remove yourself from your desk for lunch you are probably going to make a healthier choice in what you have for lunch. Through my own observations from the offices I have worked with those eating at their desks are eating crisps, chocolate, sandwiches and drinking sodas. All the bad foods that feed stress and depression. Compared to those who go out for lunch and take the time to decide what they are going to eat and as a result make a healthier decision.
3. Do Something Nice for a Co-worker
Giving is an action that creates the ‘feel good’ hormones in our bodies. The act of giving is scientifically shown to reduce levels of depression. When we do something nice for someone it lights up the reward centre of our brain. So one of the quickest ways to feel better is to do something nice for someone. Make your co-worker a cup of tea, buy them some flowers or take them out for lunch. Then the cycle begins, they will do the same for you down the road when you need someone to take your for lunch.
Reading can reduce your stress levels by 68%!!! That is a huge amount. Imagine, right now you can be feeling 68% less stressed than ten minutes ago. As you are at work it may not be appropriate to read Fifty Shades of Grey, but you can read a book or journal related to your field. My office is filled with books by entrepreneurs, health specialists and companies Annual Reports. When it all gets a bit too much I enjoy reading an entrepreneurs story on how they overcame all odds and achieved their success. Even it is only for 10 minutes.
I recently had a meeting at Lululemon’s London Office. We met in their very comfortable meditation room filled with soft cushions, couches and candles. I know we can’t all be that lucky, but you don’t need a meditation room to meditate. In fact you don’t need much, just yourself. Meditation has proven to quieten the area of the brain that causes us to worry and stress. Meditation allows us to take a quick break from the stress. The best part is that even after our meditation our brain remains calm.
A simple way to start is sitting at your desk with your eyes relaxed and gazing down at your desk. It doesn’t matter if there are documents on your desk (you can pretend to be reading something while you do this). You are going to take some nice slow deep breathes. Counting each exhale up to ten breathes. When you have reached ten, start back to 1 again. With each exhale allow your shoulders to relax. Then your back. Then your jaw, hands, legs and so on. Repeat doing this till you are ready to get back to work. Don’t worry if your mind wonders, just come back to counting your breathes. And if you’re really lost start at 1 again. The idea is to retrain the brain to not run with endless thoughts. By counting you’re giving your brain something to focus on. A single act. The breathes themselves are helping your body relax. It is an all round relaxation technique. No one in the office will ever know what you are doing. Enjoy!