How would you rate your stress levels on a daily basis?
Short-term, fleeting doses of stress can be positive. Acute stress might help you push a little harder to meet a presentation deadline at work or study a little longer to pass a certification exam. But far too often, the stress doesn’t ever subside. It’s the longer term, chronic stress that can be detrimental to both physical and mental health. This type of unrelenting stress can decrease normal immune function and potentially increase the risk and severity of certain diseases like heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and hypertension.
Small, proactive steps to decrease stress levels can make a big difference. Take 5 minutes at lunch and try out the following tactics to get through your day with a little more calm and little less stress:
Laughter increases your intake of oxygen in the air, increases the feel good endorphins released by our brains, and can aid in muscle relaxation. Take a break from your excel sheets and watch a funny video, read a funny story, or search for a few jokes.
Muscle relaxation techniques involve intentional tensing of the muscles with a complete release that follows. Think about starting with your shoulders and moving all the way down through each muscle in your body. Tense each muscle for 10 seconds and then release it entirely.
Walk to Lunch
Physical activity acts like a natural stress and anxiety reliever. Break up your sitting time, especially if you have a desk job, and take a walk to grab lunch or eat your packed lunch away from the office.
Meditate Your Way
Find a private space or shut your office door and stand or sit on the ground. Play a guided meditation on your phone and take 5 minutes to give your mind a break. Headspace and Calm are both free apps that will walk you through your meditation. Also check out this post for tips and tricks to help you recharge your spirit.
Stand Up and Stretch
For overall health we should limit sitting time to <90-minute increments. Too often, noon hits and we realize we haven’t left our desk since we got there in the morning. This can lead to increased muscle tension and overall stress. Set an alarm reminder to get up and take a walk or try this this quick lunch time workout from fitness expert Dai Manuel.
Certain essential oils, like peppermint and lavender, are thought to have calming properties when inhaled. Look for an essential oil diffuser for your office or put a drop on a damp cool cloth and place it over your eyes or forehead.
Stress can cause breathing to become short and rapid. Counteract this with intentional, slowed breathing exercises. Take a deep inhale through your nose for 7 seconds and slowly release for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times.