January 3, 2017. By Ashley Agnew:
Throughout the day, it may be the slightest annoyance rather than a major crisis that is the cause of your stress. Such an annoying instance makes it difficult to decompress and enjoy the few precious hours you have left until your car hits the road or your head hits the pillow. Whether your trigger is pushed over something overly dramatic or terribly detrimental, it is important to recognize the source and remedy your reaction. For some, flying off the handle is a first reaction, for others it is suppression. In either case, defaulting to Zen-mode does not come natural for most.
Stress can take a serious toll on your mental and physical health if you’re not proactively taking steps to combat its harmful effects. And while practices like yoga and exercise are good long-term strategies for stress reduction, there are times where you need immediate relief from distress.” Amy Morin, Contributor, Forbes.
There is no doubt that regardless of your daily routine you have been plagued with a small negative incident that has overcome your day. I recently came across a Forbes article listing five powerful stress relievers that you can easily perform at work. Tiny triggers, however, are also unavoidable outside of the workplace. This article struck a chord because each exercise could be performed seated, and in conversations with colleagues and clients, stress is ever-present when stuck at home sick or in recovery. The exercises discussed are appropriate not only for those spending hours at a desk, but also for those feeling down due to injuries or illnesses that may render them nearly immobile.
1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Stress can cause you to tense certain muscles in your body. Over time, you may become so accustomed to that tension that you stop noticing that your muscles are tight. Sore muscles – especially in the neck and shoulders – can stem from chronic tension. Progressive muscle relaxation lets go of that tension. Focus on slowly tensing and then relaxing your muscles, one group at a time. Start with your toes and work your way up to your neck. With practice, you’ll increase your awareness of when you’re tensing your muscles and you’ll learn to let go of that tension.
When you can’t physically go to your ‘happy place,’ a quick mental vacation can do wonders for your stress. Visualize one of the most relaxing scenes you can imagine – a beach, the top of a mountain, your favorite chair in the living room, or any other place you’d love to be.
Close your eyes and spend a few minutes imagining you are there. Engage as many senses as you can by thinking about what you’d see, hear, smell, touch, and taste if you were really enjoying that relaxing scene. A quick mental vacation can relax your mind and body.
3. Deep Breathing
You likely don’t pay much attention to your breath. After all, you do it all day long and it’s completely automatic. But, becoming more aware of your breath, and performing a few deep breathing exercises can produce a natural relaxation response. Deep breathing is so powerful that The American Institute of Stress even named it the ‘best stress reduction technique’ of all.
Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and helps promote a state of calmness. Additionally, breathing techniques assist you in focusing on your body, which can quiet your mind. Although there are a variety of breathing techniques – some combine breathing with visualization – taking a few slow, deep belly breaths can provide immediate stress relief.
4. Engage Your Senses
Engaging your senses is another way to refocus your attention and help you let go of worry. The key is to find out which sense is most helpful for you to engage. While some people find listening to music calms their minds, others experience maximum stress relief by looking at family photos.
Experiment with a variety of activities that engage your senses. Put scented lotion on your hands, give yourself a quick hand massage, eat a piece of your favorite candy, or squeeze a stress ball. With practice, you’ll learn to recognize which types of sensory activities provide you with the most stress relief.
It’s true what they say – laughter really is the best medicine. A hearty chuckle stimulates circulation and soothes tension, which relieves some of the physical symptoms of stress. Laughter also increases endorphins released by the brain and produces a relaxed feeling.
Surround yourself with a few items that will induce a giggle. Keep a folder filled with funny cartoons, funny photos, or ridiculous jokes. Talk to a co-worker with a hearty sense of humor or share a funny story. A willingness to laugh at yourself sometimes can also serve as a good reminder not to take life so seriously, which can do wonders for your stress level.
Morin concludes the article noting that, as with most things, practice makes perfect. We hope that the New Year is as stress-free as possible for you, and hope that this article is helpful for the moments that are not.
*Source: Morin, Amy. (Jul. 29, 2015). 5 Powerful Stress Relievers You Can Do At Your Desk. http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2015/07/29/5-powerful-stress-relievers-you-can-do-at-your-desk/#6c8fd2d53bc3