7 Ways to Destress at Work (Really)

July 5th, 2017
7 Ways to Destress at Work (Really)

Destress at work? Impossible! At least that’s how it might feel when you’re pounding the pavement and putting your nose to the grindstone to meet your ambitious goals.

But stress can impede progress. As popular as it is to say that hustle is the only way to win, hustling in the wrong way can actually hurt you more than help. You’ll burn out faster. You’ll start to make mistakes that could cost you more than help.

Destressing at work is more important than most people realize, but is it possible? Sure, but…

Before you can destress, you must practice self-awareness.

Self-awareness is one of the most important ways to be successful in the business world. It permeates all areas of business from knowing your strengths to knowing when you need a break to regroup.

Let’s focus on that last point. Knowing when you need a break isn’t as easy as it might sound. Typically, professionals don’t realize they need a break until they’re on the verge of burnout and buried in stress. By that point, it’s too late.

Practicing self-awareness means realizing the signs that you’re becoming stressed and taking a proactive role in managing it. It also means knowing what relaxes you. Most of the time that isn’t leaving work. It isn’t putting your obligations to the side because they’ll always be lingering in the back of your mind. It’s finding other ways to destress on the job so you can quickly regain focus and knock out what’s on your to-do list.

Here are seven of the most popular ways to destress at work as soon as you realize you’re feeling overwhelmed.

1. Go Outside

There’s something instantaneously relaxing about sunlight and fresh air. If you’re feeling buried in your work duties, the walls around you are probably not serving to help you relax.

Go outside for five minutes. Sit in the sun. Call a client while listening to the birds chirp. Take a deep breath of fresh air. Whatever you want to do outside, do it. Being in nature is supremely powerful and can almost instantly relax your muscles and mind.

2. Stretch It Out

Speaking of muscles, you’re probably tensing them up unintentionally while your stress compounds. Stretching your muscles can release that slow growing tension and make you feel more relaxed.

More importantly, it can also help you proactively stop common physical ailments of stress, such as headaches and indigestion.

3. Get Up and Move

A little bit of movement can have a dramatic impact on your overall health both physical and mental. Blood flow is important to keep your body relaxed and free of tension. Whenever possible, get up from your desk and move. Instead of emailing the person down the hall for something, get up and get it from them. Or, simply go for a walk and try to leave your technology behind (if we as an IT company can do it, so can you…). If you can’t get up from your desk, consider investing in a treadmill desk so you can move while you work.

The more you keep your blood pumping, the more focused you’ll be and the more relaxed you’ll feel.

4. Practice Yoga-Style Breathing Techniques

Yoga has long been known to have healing effects on the body. One key component of the practice is breathing.

Breathing techniques can be used at your desk to remind your body to relax. You’ll slowly inhale and fill your body with oxygen, then exhale out the tension you’re feeling throughout your body.

Try the ujjayi pranayama technique where you inhale through your nose and exhale through your throat, trying to make a subtle sound of an ocean wave. Having an intentional focus on how you’re breathing will help you take deeper, fuller, more relaxing breaths.

5. Time Your Breaks

When you’re in over your head with work, it’s easy to forget to step away now and then. Still, burying yourself is a surefire way to get stressed.

Time your breaks so you’re frequently getting up from your desk and giving your brain a chance to relax. Set a timer on your phone to remind you when it’s time to step away.

6. Make a Priority To-Do List

There are a million things you’d like to get done, but there are only 8 hours in the workday. What tasks can you finish that’ll inch you toward your goal and make you feel like you had a productive day as you check them off the list? Prioritize them.

There are several ways to do this.

Barbara Corcoran makes a list of tomorrow’s tasks every night before she leaves work. Then, she labels them with A, B, or C. The next day, when she comes in, she starts with her A tasks. When those are finished, she moves to the B tasks, then the C tasks. It’s an easy way to cut through the noise and know you’re spending your time on the tasks that matter the most.

Another way is to start a Bullet Journal with intentional setup of your to do lists.

Find a way that’ll let you break down each of your tasks in order of importance and then prioritize what you can and should be getting done so you can clear the clutter from your mind and dig in when you’re ready to work.

7. Put on Music

Sound has a dramatic impact on the body. Are you listening to relaxing sounds? Or are your ears taking in the sounds of stress?

Whenever possible, put on a playlist with wordless music. This will help to center your brain so you can focus on the tasks at hand instead of the stress you’re feeling. Spotify in particular has some great playlists designed specifically for focus.

What’s Your Zen?

Work doesn’t have to be a four-letter word in your world. By using easy, but powerful ways to destress, you’re able to unwind while staying focused and on task.

What’s your best tip for destressing at work?