By Penny Willmert
Crazy. Action-packed. Stressful. These are only a few words to describe your workday, five days (or more) per week. Stress is unavoidable when it comes to major life events. But when you deal with daily drama, expectations, and deadlines, these moments can affect your physical and mental health. One way to lessen job pressure is to take a moment to unplug, meditate and work your body. Grab a few weights or a medicine ball! Physical activity, even in its simplest form, can help you to relax and refocus.
One of the most important things to do when you’re feeling closed-in at work is to acknowledge the emotion — do not brush it aside. Take a break, find a quiet corner, and try these eight techniques.
Close your eyes and count in even, deep breaths, one second per number. Say the numbers out loud so you can hear the sounds flowing. Follow the rhythm of your own voice or use a clock with a loud-ticking second hand.
While you’re in this secluded area, let your imagination run free! Close your eyes and imagine a place that helps you feel calm, like the beach, mountains, or forest. “Listen” to the sounds of crashing waves, leaves rustling through trees or a crackling campfire. With your imagination, you can be where you want to be, even for just a few minutes.
Your body needs oxygen — stand up and breathe! Moving and stretching are great ways to release tension. Take a walk outside for a few minutes. Listen to the singing birds and wind blowing through the trees. Enjoy what nature has to offer. A few minutes of being outdoors (even when the weather is cold and rainy) may lessen your cortisol level. Cortisol is the main stress hormone of the human body. Stroll around the parking lot, office, or anywhere that isn’t your desk.
Speaking of breathing, plants and florals are great distractions and they help air to circulate. Those suitable for low-light office cubicles include dieffenbachia, sansevieria, and lady palm. Snake plants and aloe veras produce oxygen and don’t need frequent watering. They also filter household toxins like trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde. Anthurium is a colorful flowering plant with glossy leaves and white, red or pink long-lasting blooms.
No, it isn’t just an old wives’ tale: Chocolate is a great mood enhancer. The Health benefits of dark chocolate are well-documented. Studies show dark chocolate with 70% to 85% cocoa contains saturated and monounsaturated fats with small amounts of polyunsaturated fats. Unfortunately, the calories are still there. A 3.5-ounce bar of dark chocolate has a moderate amount of sugar and about 600 calories.
While milk chocolate isn’t considered as nutritious are dark, indulging in a few pieces during the workday is bound to give you an energy boost and a better attitude.
Your favorite tunes are great mood enhancers, but when you need to chill out, you’ll want to listen to softer music — not pumped up, beat-driven songs. Try some jazz, classical, or easy-listening music to help keep your mood balanced. Ditch the earbuds; regular headphones will help you stay focused on the sounds flowing to your ears.
There’s nothing like hugs and kisses from your pets when you need a little furry loving. This is easy if you work at home — just open the door to your office where the kitties will be swarming your desk and lying on the computer keyboard. Listen to them purr! But if you’re working in an office, you may not have the option of bringing your pets with you. For this, there are memes, YouTube, silly animated gifs, and a host of distractions to help you check out of reality for a few minutes. Remember to limit your downtime because the internet is full of cute cat and dog videos.
Taking a few minutes to chillax and de-stress ... either with “desk toys,” stretch bands or a conscious effort to get up and move around. It will help you to refocus on the tasks before you. It’s up to you to control the craziness. You can do it!
Penny Willmert is an occupational therapist who works at a retirement center in Florida. She’s an avid gardener and loves to practice yoga in the serenity of her garden.