I originally wrote this piece for Alex and Ani last Fall. As a former member of their Wellness Committee, I was determined to teach easy wellness tips to my fellow friends and colleagues.
Stress is a major factor in our overall health. It can lead to major health concerns in our bodies from hormone imbalances, digestion issues, to sleep quality. Further, it can affect our happiness, relationships, and quality of life overall.
It’s no secret that we all are stressed to some degree. My goal is to teach you how to manage it daily. I hope you find the below tips useful. Let me know if you try any of them!
Did you also know that stress is a leading factor in unproductivity and unhappiness in the workplace? I know I fall into this category! So, what do we do about it? How do we manage our stress at work? This is something I’m constantly trying to figure out. Fortunately I’ve figured out some techniques that have helped me, and hopefully can help you, too.
Here are a few ways to help manage stress at work (including your home office):
This is probably the simplest thing we could do. Yet many of us actually don’t know how to breathe correctly. I mean conscious, long deep breaths in the diaphragm.
Here is a technique you can try when you are feeling stressed. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t able to reach the suggested count, continue to practice this breath technique and you’ll soon be able to increase your counts.
Long deep breathing
Close your eyes. Start by placing one hand on your stomach, and the other on your chest. Only your stomach should inflate/deflate while taking long deep breaths (unless your practicing specific breath exercises, but this is in general). On your inhales, focus on expanding your stomach like you’re pushing it out, and on your exhales, draw your stomach in.
Inhale through your nostrils for a count of four; (optional) hold your breath for a count of six; exhale through your mouth for a count of seven; repeat for four rounds.
Get up and move your body. This could mean taking a leisurely walk around the office or outside. You can gamify and challenge yourself by counting your steps, whether on a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or your cell phone. Try to get up and walk for a couple minutes every hour. Maybe even try a walking meeting (I know some of you already do this!) Tip: the more water you drink, the more bathroom breaks you have to take, which means more walking 🙂
Journal, write on a sticky note, on a whiteboard, on a gum wrapper whatever it is, brain dump everything you’re thinking about. This helps to literally get all of your thoughts out onto paper. Whether it is statuses of projects, the never-ending to-do list, the laundry list of household chores, times you have to pick up the kids, write it all out. Once you’ve brain dumped, spend a couple of minutes and organize these thoughts into actionable, attainable small tasks. Thoughts then form into small, achievable actions that may not feel as overwhelming.
This can be done sitting at your desk, sitting on the floor, or standing up. Lengthening and strengthening our muscles helps to get the blood moving through our bodies. Those of us who sit at our desks for long periods of time should focus on stretching the hips and legs. Those who are walking or standing on their feet should focus on stretching the back, particularly the lower back. Listen to what your body needs.
Here are a few stretches you can try in the office or at home:
- Side body stretch
- This stretches out our oblique’s and the sides of our bodies. You can do this seated or standing. Start by lengthening both of your arms over head and clasp your hands together. Keep your hands clasped this whole time. Take a deep inhale, and exhale bend over to one side. Take three full breaths here, and then inhale back to center, and exhale bend over to the opposite side for another three breaths. Inhale back to center, take one full breath here, and exhale release your hands.
- Seated chair twist
- This helps to lengthen and strengthen the spine. Start by grounding your sits bones (the boney part of your glutes) into your chair and straighten your spine. Rest your hands in a comfortable position, on your lap or on the arms of your chair. Take one full breath here (facing forward). Take another inhale, and exhale twist over to the right, twisting through your torso and bringing your gaze toward your right shoulder. Take three deep breaths here. On your next inhale come back to center and exhale twist over to the left. Take another three deep breaths here and then inhale back to center. The key is to keep your legs and hips straight the entire time; the twist should come from your torso/spine.
- Seated forward folds
- This is great for stretching the lumbar spine (lower back). Start by sitting on the floor. Lengthen both legs out in front of you, ground your sits bones into the floor and straighten your spine. Your feet should be flexed so your frontal leg muscles are engaged, but keep your knees slightly bent. On your inhale lengthen your arms overhead and exhale fold forward bending from the lower back. The key here is to keep your back straight and work on bringing your chest close to your thighs. Your hands may reach or even grab ahold of your shins or feet. The more you bend your knees, the more you’ll feel the stretch in your lower back. You could even work to straighten your legs to stretch into your hamstrings.