6 Easy Ways to De-Stress During the Work Day
by Caroline Boyland October 6, 2022
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Bringing mental wellbeing into Q4
Ahhh, Q4. If you, like everyone else we know, are Stressed with a capital S, this is the article for you. Whether you’re approaching open enrollment, trying to close last minute deals before everyone goes on holiday vacation, or are in charge of planning your company’s end of year celebration/start of year kick offs, we know this time of year isn’t easy on anyone.
Despite the constant pressure to be pushing forward at work, we need to remember that mental health has a direct impact on physical health. Long-term stress has historically been linked to high blood pressure, chest pain, headaches, sleep loss, and so much more. It’s important to take the time to de-stress throughout the work day so that you can feel healthier and happier, which will in turn help you feel more productive, clear headed, and be a positive force in the workplace.
But the age-old question remains, how on earth are we supposed to “de-stress” when there is so much to do? Well, to start, you’re taking a few minutes for yourself to read this article — so you’re off to a great start! Now as a disclaimer, I, in no way, claim to be a de-stressing expert. But I’ve pulled together some tried and true methods that you can use to de-stress throughout the work day. So without further ado… let’s relax!
This is perhaps the easiest trick in the book — but one we often forget. Taking the time to take control over your breathing can work wonders for your stress levels. Your body breathes differently depending on your mood, and if you control your breathing to mimic the way you breathe when you’re content and relaxed, you can essentially trick your body into actually feeling that way.
The Harvard Business Review reported that breathing in for a count of 4, and out for a count of 8, is a great recipe for relaxation. Sync up your breathing with the animation below for a few minutes to de-stress right now:
2. Go for a walk
Getting outside throughout the day is something that’s incredibly important, but unfortunately many of us neglect. It can feel too time consuming to leave your computer screen and step out of the house or office for a few minutes, but in reality, it’s something you can do in 10 minutes or less.
Think about all those calls where the host wraps up with “I’m going to give you all a few minutes back in your day.” Instead of using those leftover minutes to read through emails and DMs, take the 5-10 minutes and try to walk around the block or simply sit outside in the fresh air. When working from home, it can feel so easy to let the day pass by indoors, especially now that we’re approaching the colder months. But getting outside and breathing in the fresh air is known to relieve anxiety and depression — it can clear your head and help you come back to work with a fresh perspective.
Challenge yourself by getting outside for a few minutes at least once during the work day, you’ll be surprised how much better you feel!
3. Take advantage of “do not disturb” modes
Most phones and computers have the ability to control if and which notifications alert you throughout the day. And it feels like we're all constantly facing notification-overload.
To combat this, I was just speaking with a colleague this morning who has a “Work Mode” do not disturb setting on their phone, which they’ve configured to only allow important Slack messages and messages from family through when it’s turned on. When they want to truly focus on their work, they can toggle on Work Mode, which allows them to get any important messages they need, without the everyday notifications we get from the 100+ apps on our phones and computers.
4. Practice short mindfulness meditations
It may seem like in order to meditate you need an expensive subscription to the next big mindfulness app, but there are actually a lot of free meditations online. A quick YouTube search can pull up free mindfulness sessions that you can incorporate into your day, regardless of how much time you have.
5. Listen to calming audio
Music can play a major role in your overall mood. There’s a reason we turn to sad songs when we’re feeling down, and happy songs when we’re in a great mood. Try listening to songs that have a calming effect to regulate your mood throughout the day.
And while I personally can’t listen to my favorite artists while I work (read: I start subconsciously typing Taylor Swift lyrics into whatever I’m working on), I’ve found that streaming services like Spotify have a wide range of mood-altering (& lyric-less) playlists that are stacked with calming music that you can play in the background to keep yourself grounded.
6. Unplug, unplug, unplug
When the day is over, make sure you take a moment to emotionally unplug from work. Whether you have a long commute home or just a walk from your living room desk to your kitchen, doing something right after the work day that is non-work related can help you emotionally break free from the stress of the day.
This can look like bringing a book or downloading a movie to watch during your commute, turning on your favorite true-crime podcast while you cook dinner, throwing Jeopardy on the TV and laying on the floor with your dog, whatever it may be. Taking the time to detach from the tasks and challenges you faced during the work day can help rid your mind and body of work-related stress so you’re not sitting with it for the remainder of the evening.
These are just a few methods to try to incorporate into your routine so that you can feel more relaxed and present, both during and after the work day ends. Try out some of these practices and see how they help, and feel free to bookmark this page to flip back to whenever you need a reminder to focus on you throughout your day!
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