Getty Images Image by: Getty Images
Jesse Hanson, a doctoral candidate for clinical psychology and the clinical director of Helix Healthcare Group in Toronto, suggests three things you can do at your desk to ward off stress.
1. Breathe deeply.
Proper breathing might seem like old news, but there's good reason for the reminder. Hanson explains that, in the same way anxiety can lead to quickened breathing, improper breathing can contribute to anxiety. "If you're deep breathing, you won't be able to get anxious. You might be able to feel the pressure, but you won't be anxious," says Hanson. To eliminate stress, spend 30 to 60 seconds every hour focusing on deep breathing. (Try setting reminders on your phone to keep this up throughout the day.) "Imagine the breath coming up the spine so that when you inhale you get taller. Then imagine exhaling down your spine and getting more grounded and centred," says Hanson. "You'll notice a difference." And eventually, you won't need reminders because your breathing will become a healthy habit.
2. Sit well.
It might surprise you to know that proper ergonomics can actually impact stress levels. "Are you sitting in a way that you have to constantly look down or cock your head to be able to see your screen? Are you sitting in a way that your back is not supported properly? Are you sitting in a way that your keyboard is way out in front of you so you're constantly reaching your shoulders forward?" asks Hanson. Muscle tension can translate to psychological tension, he explains. When your back and shoulders are bearing extra pressure, you're more likely to experience irritability and anxiousness, not to mention headaches and backaches. Rolling your shoulders back and relaxing them can help put your mind at ease and put you in a better place to deal with difficult situations on the job.
3. Shake it off.
No, Hanson isn't suggesting you simply forget about that inflammatory email that just popped up in your inbox or the giant folder of work that landed on your desk at 5 p.m.; he wants you to literally give your body a shake. Take about five deep breaths, then imagine there is water all over you and you have to shake all the droplets off, then literally shake your body from head to toe. "Animals do this and there is clinical research that shows that when they shake it out, the nervous system goes back to balance," says Hanson.
Want more tips for managing stress? Get 11 ways to manage stress in your life.