Stress is the modern-day curse, but fortunately stress relief exercises at work can help. With our lives getting busier and more complex, stress levels are on the rise, and one of the major contributors is our work.
Stress-related absence shot up by 64% in 2020 as COVID-19 added complexity to the UK’s mental health crisis. A recent health and wellbeing at work survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), confirms UK workers are dealing with mounting levels of stress. Presenteeism (where people work when they feel unwell) and leavism (where people use their holiday allowance to work) are now widespread.
Employee well-being has never been more important. Leaders and managers have it in their power to look after their people. It starts with a culture of stress awareness and providing staff with simple tools, such as stress relief exercises at work, to manage it.
It’s impossible to eliminate all potential stressors but developing good habits that you can pass on to your team will help. These stress-busting exercises will help employees become more aware of what is stressing them out and help them to build resilience. Many of them can be practised at the desk in just a few minutes.
Stress Relief Exercises at Work
Get active, take a walk
Exercise doesn’t deal with the cause of stress, but it can help to defuse the emotional intensity of a stressful situation. A quick walk around the block creates an opportunity to get fresh air, stretch your legs and clear your thoughts, and then return to your work with renewed focus.
Simmer down with a stretch
The good thing about a quick stretch is – well, that it’s quick! So, if you can’t get out for a quick walk a quick stretch is the next best thing. It’s not just good for mental health, it’s important for physical health too. If your job involves sitting down looking at a screen all day, stretching every hour or so is important to help prevent postural problems.
Stretching increases circulation, relaxes tight muscles and increases oxygen flow. A higher oxygen flow also slows your blood pressure and your heart rate. Healthline have come up with the perfect Deskercise routine. Just a few simple stretches can be enough stress relief exercises at work to help you simmer down when you feel stress beginning to build.
Breathe stress out
Breathing exercises are a simple, quick and easy way to take stock and let stress go when things are starting to get to you. There are lots of different types of breathing exercises, from alternate nostril breathing to visualisation and counting breaths.
Deep breathing (also known as diaphragmatic breathing) has proven health benefits. It encourages a full exchange of incoming oxygen and outgoing carbon dioxide and signals to your nervous system to calm down. Shallow short breathing, on the other hand, can induce a state of panic or anxiety.
Dial down stress with mindfulness
Researchers believe mindfulness helps to dial down the body’s response to stress. Scientific studies have found mindfulness to be effective in stress reduction and to have a positive impact on a person’s happiness.
So, what is mindfulness? Quite simply, it means the mind is present to what is happening in the moment. Think about it for a minute – is your mind in several places at once? While you are emptying the dishwasher, are
you thinking about the day ahead, while half having a conversation with your partner or kids? Quit
e often our minds are flitting between several different things in a matter of 30 seconds!
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing the mind back to one thing – the present. It is a type of mediation that helps us to be less reactive and more focused on the task in hand. Headspace offers lots of bite-sized guided mindfulness meditations and stress relief exercises at work, which you can try for free.
Learn more about the benefits of mindfulness here.
Visualise your happy place
A quick mental break can do wonders and visualisation is a great technique for relieving stress at work. If you can’t get outside for a quick walk, find a quiet space in the office, close your eyes for a minute or two and visualise a place that makes you feel calm and happy. Perhaps it’s a walk in the mountains, laying on the beach, watching a beautiful sunset or simply sitting in the park. Focusing your mind on calm and serene images and imagining yourself in that space has a calming impact.
Tip: Try to engage as many senses as you can by thinking about what you’d see, hear, smell, touch, and taste if you were really enjoying the calming scene. There are lots of visualisation techniques you can try.
Laughter is the best medicine
It’s no joke, laughter really is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to stress relief exercises at work. Not only does it lighten the load mentally, laughter also enhances your intake of oxygen (we know from the deep breathing that’s a good thing), it stimulates your heart and other organs, and increases the release of endorphins from the brain (the body’s natural feel-good chemicals).
It’s not just fun, laughter is a powerful stress reliever.
Reprogramme your mind
It is so easy to get caught in a cycle of stress, especially if you are a worrying type or doubt your abilities. Positive affirmations can give you a mental boost and enable you to work through stressful situations with more confidence. It’s all about harnessing positive thinking.
It may feel like an alien concept at first – telling yourself how great you are! But there’s genuine neuroscience behind the concept and it’s all to do with synapses in the brain. There is MRI evidence suggesting that certain neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation!
The future and why we need to de-stress
Chronic stress interferes with the body’s immune system and has been proven to impact health and wellbeing. Amidst a pandemic and economic uncertainty, we are living through particularly stressful times. Health has to be at the forefront of our recovery. It is as important for our fight against the COVID-19 virus as it is important for our economic recovery. Healthy, happy staff are a vital component of business success.
If you’d like to understand more about what is stressing your employees, WeThrive can help. Our pulse survey makes it quick and easy to find out how your staff are feeling and our library of resources equips managers with the tools they need to help teams thrive.
Why not try us for free and de-stress your team today?
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