Tips for Destressing at Your Desk

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When our work leaves us feeling stressed, it is often caused by excessive pressures or demands that are placed upon us, such as tight deadlines, additional responsibilities or organisational changes. For many people, this stress isn’t something that they can leave behind at the end of a working day. Instead, it goes on to impact other areas of their life, such as their sleep, mood, relationships, appetite as well as their health.

If you are struggling with work-related stress, there are tactics you can introduce into your working day to relieve these thoughts and feelings so they don’t seriously impact your health and wellbeing.

Emotional freedom technique (EFT)

EFT works in a similar way to acupuncture. Both are based on the notion that energy flows through your body along pathways known as meridians. During EFT, you focus on specific meridian points to restore the balance of your body’s energy, which in turn can relieve a negative experience or emotion like stress.  

Firstly, you focus on the issue that is causing you to feel stressed – make sure that you only concentrate on one problem at a time. While concentrating on or repeating this issue, you then stimulate a meridian point by tapping it three to seven times. These points include the eyebrow, side of the eye, under the eye, under the nose, the chin, collar bone, under the arm and on the top of the head.  

You continue doing this until you start to feel your stress reduce. When you become calmer, you then repeat the technique, but focus on an uplifting phrase as you tap your meridian points to help restore your energy and motivation. 

Guided meditation apps

Putting your headphones in and listening to a guided meditation app such as Headspace at your desk can give you a chance to pause, rest your mind and rid yourself of racing thoughts.

Related: Best Health and Wellbeing Apps

Through meditation, you have the opportunity to step back and observe the thoughts and feelings that you are having in response to stress triggers. It can give you the time and space to determine what is demanding your energy and emotions, so that you can organise your priorities, and reframe your response to whatever has caused you to become stressed, so that you don’t become too immersed in it or let it drive how you go onto behave.

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)

PMR involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups to help you identify when your body is stressed, so that you can take steps to change it. There are guided videos on YouTube that you can use to help you do this at your desk. 

During PMR, you typically start from your forehead and work your way down, or start from your feet and work your way up. Different muscle groups to work through include the forehead, jaw, neck and shoulders, arms and hands, buttocks, legs and feet. 

Before starting PMR, you should spend a few minutes breathing deeply. Then during the exercise, you go through different muscle groups, squeezing and holding the muscles for 15 seconds at a time, then slowly releasing for 30 seconds. After working on a muscle group, you then spend some more time breathing deeply and focusing on the relaxed muscle and your relaxed state. 

Deep breathing

During stressful situations, your breathing pattern can change. It can cause you to take in small and shallow breaths, which in turn can make your stress levels soar. 

When you feel stressed, really focus on your breathing. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose for five to eight seconds. Then, hold the breath for five to eight seconds and let it go for the same amount of time. Make sure that you let your breath flow in and out gently, without forcing it. Doing this exercise can help you to feel calm and also help to quieten your mind as you spend time focusing on your body instead. 

Take a break

During a working day, it is also important to walk away from your desk and take your breaks so that you have a chance to recharge. Ideally, try to go outdoors during this time as a change in environment can help to clear your mind, rest and re-energise yourself for the rest of the working day. 

Where to turn if your stress levels remain high 

If you find that your stress levels remain high or are becoming worse, it is important that you talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling and then, if possible, meet with your organisation’s occupational therapy or HR team who will be experienced in helping people.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you can also look into accessing private and confidential therapies to help you learn how to better manage your stress levels. 

It is also important to remember that changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. If stress is having a real impact on your health and wellbeing, think about things that you can change such as trying a new job or moving companies. It is important to take care of yourself, and spend your days happily challenged at work as opposed to dealing with crippling levels of stress.

Author Bio: Steve Clarke is an experienced psychotherapist with several years’ experience with addiction, mood disorders, and eating disorders. He also manages the clinical team at Priory Group’s Life Works, including a team of therapists, nurses, and healthcare assistants, to deliver a full programme of care.

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