It isn’t as uncommon as you’d think to suffer from work-related stress. Just last weekend Cara Delevigne said in an interview that the stress from catwalk shows triggered her skin condition psoriasis, making her “hate herself and her body”. And she isn't the only celeb who has been caught in the grip of a stress-related illness: Lena Dunham has panic attacks on the regular, and even Oprah Winfrey has had a nervous breakdown from being overworked. Yep, even Oprah has worries.
But, unfortunately, with work comes responsibility: there’s no popping out for a relaxing two-hour massage or a grassy retreat in the country with yoga classes to run to mid-week. (Apparently these aren’t a work expense?!) And honestly, what’s more stressful than finding you have no time to de-stress? It’s a vicious cycle!
?Sometimes, in order to de-stress, we must find solitude in the starkly lit 4 walls of our office space - which may sound depressing but is actually oddly gratifying. We spoke to a shedload of de-stressing experts how helped us come up with this - the definitive list of the best ways to simplify your nine-to-five.
1. Drink some tea
Not in the way your mum says it, like builder's brew has miracle healing powers. But if you’re running in and out of the office all day, take with you a steaming mug of herbal tea. Teapigs say that chamomile tea is known for its stress releasing properties and helps to relax your muscles and sooth your anxiety, which is also great for getting a good night’s kip. A nice. big mug of this is your meeting will ensure you won’t get too stressed, but be careful not to fall asleep during all those boring presentations!
2. Just BREATHE
Breeeeaaaathe. When you think about it, breathing is pretty underestimated. We need it to live, man. But we can also use it to keep us calm and balanced. Neil Shah from the Stress Management Society says the ‘Bellow’s Breath’ technique is awesome at getting blood and oxygen flowing round the body and up to the brain with a few simple inhales and exhales.
In order to fully benefit from Bellow’s breath, first stand up straight with your feet hip-distance apart. Before you start breathing (using the technique - I mean, breathe normally up until this point by all means), have a little look around the room, and take in all the senses - think about the colours and sounds. Think about how you feel. Then, inhale through the nose and raise your arms out sideways. (Your diaphragm should descend and your stomach push out as you do.) (This exercise needs a bit of space, so maybe move away from your desk to avoid hitting Tina from Accounting in the face.) Exhale through the mouth and bend your arms in towards your ribs.
?Neil says you should repeat this 30 times, beginning slowly and gradually gaining speed with every ten breaths. Then, afterwards, take the time to look around the room again and process how you feel. ?
3. Get techno
If you’ve got a problem, there’s an app for that. Anamya is a mindfulness and meditation app. So if you’re having trouble getting zen by yourself in a busy office environment, this app has a ton of good advice on getting focused, getting motivated and feeling fulfilled. Take your phone to the car park, the empty meeting room, even the toilet, and it'll help you with some quick meditation, wherever you are.
4. Stretch it out
There’s nothing that’s going to make you more grouchy than getting achey joints at your desk. Tamir Grant, osteopath and personal trainer, has given us a few great tips on stretching at your desk.
From your feet: “roll your feet clockwise and anticlockwise to help with blood flow from your lower legs back up to your heart”; to your whole body: “stretch out your legs underneath your desk and reach your arms high above your head.” Tamir says that the aim of stretching at your desk is to keep the blood flowing and the joints healthy.
?Furthermore, abdominal contractions, gluteal contractions and quadriceps contractions will help your back, bum and hamstrings respectively. (Keep an eye on that last one - Tamir warns us that our hammies are notorious for shortening if we’re sitting behind a desk for hours, so make sure you stretch them out good and proper!)
5. Find your pressure points
Rhiannon Griffiths from The British Acupuncture Council advises that acupressure is something that you can do easily at your desk. Acupressure is like acupuncture without the needles, which is great news for trypanophobiacs. It involves finding your acupuncture points and, instead of sticking a needle into it, you just apply a bit of pressure. Lovely. Rhiannon has given us some handy tips on simple acupressure you can do at your desk that will be discrete enough to stop you looking like a weirdo to your boss:
Yintang: Just above the midpoint between the eyebrows. Place your finger between the eyebrows & move slightly upwards, over the ridge of bone, into a dip. You will be just above the horizontal line of the eyebrows. This is the area where your "third eye" is considered to be. This is a deeply relaxing point, massaging it gently with your finger will calm & rebalance you.?
Heart 7: This point is at the wrist flexure, on the little finger side of your up facing palm. Follow tour little finger down to the wrist, where you will feel a little round bone at the corner of your palm. The point is at the thumb-side lower corner of that bone, where the wrist bends. Massage that area when anxiety or nerves are high, to calm & soothe immediately.
6. De-clutter your desk
Sounds simple, but sometimes a clear desk can a clear mind make. Have a look over everything in or on your desk and decide whether you really need it. For example, do you really need that empty hand moisturiser container? Or that stale cereal that’s been sitting at your feet for the past 6 months? Clearing your desk means you’ll be able to find everything you need much easier, avoiding any panicky stress. So if your boss needs that spreadsheet in her hand pronto, you know exactly where it is and can give it to her in two seconds, stat.
7. Get your aromatherapy on
If you’re feeling anxious or stressed and don’t have much time, massage 2 drops of Neroli oil into your temples with two more on your chest. Then shut your eyes and do some deep breaths. It’s super relaxing. Then you’ll be so relaxed, you can just put your sunglasses on and act like it’s Friday. All week.
8. Ditch the caffeine
“Caffeine is a stimulant, which increases the adrenaline levels in our body- the same hormone you are looking to reduce when stressed,” says Shona Wilkinson, Head Nutritionist at nutricentre.com. So drinking coffee will only exacerbate your feelings of stress and prepares your body to action, even though you’re just sitting at our desk, reading your morning emails. So cut it out or cut down, and you’ll notice a big difference to your mood in the mornings.
9. You are what you eat
What you eat during the day can have a massive effect on how you feel whilst at work. Sure, Double Deckers are a super tasty mid-morning snack, but is going to make you feel like death in an hour or so. Frida Harju, in-house nutritionist at Lifesum, says that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids - such as tuna and avocado - will keep your adrenaline and cortisol (a type of stress hormone) from spiking when you’re feeling tense.
?Also pour yourself a big glass of orange juice in the morning and chuck some blueberries atop your porridge, will ya? Frida says studies have shown that including vitamin C in your diet can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Frida also stresses the importance of eating around every three hours in order to keep your stress levels down - not to mention your hangry (hungry-angry) levels.
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