Studies have recently shown that a stressful workplace could potentially take up to 33 years off your life. In fact, between 2014 and 2015, a whopping 40% of all work related illnesses were blamed on stress.
Now is an important time to be learning how to cope with stress at the office. From meditation to adult colouring, here are our top tips on how to tackle office stress.
Take an online meditation course
Researchers from Dalian University of Technology in China conducted research which found that participants who meditated for 20 minutes a day five days a week had “measurably less anxiety and levels of the stress hormone cortisol” than those who did not. In addition to that, the results also showed that the participants levels of depression, anger and fatigue were improved with regular meditation.
In fact, University of Washington researchers found that not only did meditation training help their participants experience fewer negative emotions, but meditation also helped improve focus and their memory for details.
Using meditation to combat stress can be done easily, and doesn’t always require you attend a class. With online meditation courses, you can take twenty minutes out of your day, perhaps on your lunch break, and use the time to meditate. Available as an app, you can find a quiet spot away from your desk to de-stress. Using a meditation course like this is both corrective if you’re already feeling worried at work, as well as preventative for dealing with future potential stress points.
Stress and other mental health problems can make it harder to motivate yourself to exercise, but it’s important to do your best to keep active. Jon Denoris, personal trainer to the stars, cited improved mental health as one of his top 5 reasons to stay fit.
Exercise is a powerful tool for preventing the buildup of stress. Research has shown that exercise releases feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, helping you feel better. Exercise also acts to “reduce harmful changes in the brain” which are the result of stress. This, coupled with the fact that research has shown that sitting for 8 hours a day is as bad for your health as smoking only goes to show just how important it is to keep active.
While personal trainers are often the go-to way to get fit, helping you to stick to an exercise regime and offering advice, there are less demanding ways to keep fit and reduce stress. If you spend all your time working at a desk, and like many of us struggle to find the time or the motivation to exercise outside of work, then you might try ‘deskercise’.
There are crunches, dips and plenty of other small ways to keep fit. Opting for a standing desk too can help you switch up your time from sitting and slumping.
Take breaks, don’t just keep going
Getting stressed can sometimes occur because you aren’t giving yourself time off. When workloads pile up or the solution to a task is hard to figure out, you might be tempted to just keep ploughing through, pushing yourself to get results. But this can cause even more stress.
Instead, make sure to take regular breaks. Don’t think of your lunch break as a treat, treat it as a necessity. Brief diversions from your work can actually help you to find solutions faster.
While on your breaks, be they for five minutes or an hour, try to do something away from your desk, something unrelated to work. For instance, read a book, listen to a podcast while going for a walk near your office, or pack an adult colouring book – one of the hottest trends in stress and anxiety management.
There are also plenty of websites out there which can make your quick breaks more relaxing. For example Rain For Me is a website which exists solely to make the relaxing sounds of heavy rain and Silk which lets you weave complex digital art with your cursor.
In between breaks, if you feel moments of stress rising up, try combating it with breathing exercises. Effective breathing acts to control the body’s fight-or-flight response to stress, so if you feel yourself starting to panic at work, try breathing through the feeling, rather than trying to suppress it.
The NHS recommends breathing deeply and gently in through your nose and out through your mouth. You should feel your stomach expanding, rather than your chest. You might like to count slowly from 1 to 5 as a way of measuring the length of your breaths, and as a way to take your mind away from whatever is causing your stress.
And the best part? You can do deep breathing exercises anywhere you like, whenever you need to.