After a long period of lockdowns, many of us are heading back to the office, which means we have to get used to working in a public space again.
While there are definitely benefits to being in the office, lots of us have been working from home for the last year and a half, and have learned new, home-appropriate ways to lessen the symptoms of stress along the way.
At your house, you can take a break from work to do the dishes or have a little sing if that’s what calms you down, but at the office, things like that often aren’t appropriate.
Whether you’ve got a toxic boss breathing down your neck or you just want to learn new, low-key coping mechanisms, here are some tips and tricks, and top products for helping you de-stressing at your desk.
Do a breathing exercise
Counselling Directory member Georgia Ross recommends a low-key deep breathing exercise that you can do without anybody else in the office noticing.
‘Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose,’ she says.
‘Hold for seven seconds and then slowly breathe out through your mouth.
‘Keep doing this until you start to feel more relaxed.’
Schedule your worry time
Laura Duester, another Counselling Directory member we spoke to, recommends writing down your worries and designating a specific time of day to think about them.
‘Simply set aside around 20 minutes each day, she says. ‘This could be on your commute home, after dinner, or at any other regular time.
‘Then, when you’re at your desk and something stressful pops into your head, calmly notice it, write it down, and let it go. At your scheduled time, return to your list of worries and go through them one by one.
‘By limiting worries to your “worry time”, you don’t spend all day feeling stressed, and you can respond to problems with greater calmness and clarity.’
Do a mindfulness exercise
Mindfulness exercises can be done quickly and quietly if you have the right know-how – this one can be done at your desk no problem.
‘Just focus on an object away from your desk to stretch your eye line – note in detail what you can see, hear, smell, feel – or when you make a cup of coffee simply focus on every action you do, again noting all your senses,’ Dee Johnson, also of Counselling Directory, explains.
‘Instructing your brain you are in the moment has a powerful calming effect, clears your head and actually helps you refocus.’
Take an at-desk creative break
Dee says making time for something quick and creative can give your body a break from the stress hormones coursing through your body.
‘Take regular two/three-minute creative breaks using items around you,’ she says, ‘i.e. drawing colouring in something (there are colouring in mindfulness apps), doing a puzzle (again plenty of apps to choose from), learning origami, word games, listening (an if you can, singing) to a favourite tune, Rubik’s cubes – anything you like that is easy to access on a device and/or can keep in a drawer.’
Stock up on stress-relievers
There’s a range of things you can put in and atop your desk to help give your workspace a calming boost.
Plants, calming oils like lavender, jasmine or rosemary, stress balls, plants, and the aforementioned colouring books and Rubik’s cubes are all good things to have in a workspace.
For instance, Dee recommends spraying calming oil and taking mindful breaths, and points out that plants are proven to have a positive effect on your mental health.
When you’re stressed and busy, it can be easy to neglect your body’s more subtle needs and forget to stay hydrated.
‘A contributor to anxiety is actually the body getting stressed as it dehydrates’ says Dee, ‘and it adds to your stress as you are not able to concentrate well when your body is under this pressure.’
Get away from your desk
Yes, this contradicts the headline of the article, but Georgia and Dee both recommended it, and we think it’s advice worth remembering.
Sometimes, it won’t be possible to de-stress while you’re sitting at your desk, and taking breaks away from your screen can help keep those stress levels from climbing to unreasonable highs in the first place.
It doesn’t have to be a long break either – Georgia says something as simple as getting yourself a drink or walking around the office can ‘help your brain to reset itself’.
Stress-relieving products for your desk
Here’s a quick list of stress-busting stuff you can get to keep at your desk to either fight or ward off stress.
These suggestions were either directly recommended to us by the mental health professionals we got advice from for this piece, or based on the tips they shared above.
MengPa lava rock bracelet
Georgia says she often recommends these to her patients, as they look very low-key, and you can fiddle with them as a distraction for your brain.
Price: from £7.98
Get it from: Amazon
Recycled Planet water bottle
An added benefit of this water bottle is that it’s made with recycled PET plastic.
Get it from: Wayfair
Glow-in-the-dark fidget spinner
While popular with kids, Georgina says fidget toys like this one provide a great outlet for stress in adults too.
Get it from: Hamleys
Calma llama stress toy
Georgia also recommends stress balls, but this llama will do just as well and there’s the added bonus of it being very cute.
Get it from: MenKind
Gold crane notebook
Technically any notebook would make a good worry notebook, but this one is extra pretty, and you can personalise it.
Get it from: Papier
Again, any plant would do, but look how happy this little guy is.
Get it from: Gift and Gadget
Credit: Original article published here.