1. Stretch

You will be amazed at how refreshed your body can feel with just a simple stretch. Writer Maggie Bertram notes that “stretching increases blood flow to the brain and helps relieve tension in those muscles where you’re storing your stress.”

The Mayo Clinic offers these stretching options. Also check out “10 Easy Desk Stretches

2. Laugh

woman laughing with co-workers

“Some say that laughter is the best medicine — the CDC reports in some cases that is true!” Laughing actually reduces stress hormones.  Did you know it takes 15 muscles to laugh?  “The great feeling you get when you laugh can stay with you long after the laughter stops.”

So, be sure to make it a point to spend a few minutes hanging out with colleagues for light hearted chatting, sharing stories, comedy podcasts, or YouTube videos like Do Not Laugh Challenge:  Animal Edition.  A good belly laugh may change your entire day!

3. Breathe

Bertram indicates that when we’re stressed, our breathing gets shallower. Deep breathing reduces stress.  She recommends a good way to begin a mindful breathing practice is to “take a minute or two every hour to breath in and out slowly a few times.  Simply close your eyes, breathe in – (hold for a count of 3) – breathe out.  Notice how your chest,  and then your abdomen rise and fall.  Now repeat that 5 times, breathing deeply each time, and seeing how relaxed you feel.”

Dr Jeffrey Brantley, MD, author of Five Good Minutes at Work, teaches that you already have what it takes to be successful in mindful breathing.  Mindfully breathing, even for a few minutes or less, “can relieve stress, bring you peace of mind, greater happiness, fulfillment, success and satisfaction of a job well done.”  Try it and see what happens! Check out Mindpath Health’s blog post for directions on breathing techniques.

 4. Nurture Yourself

flowers on a desk

Amy Jen Su, co-founder and managing partner of Paravis Partners and Harvard Business Review writer, states: that “by incorporating self care in our day–to-day work lives, we can all become our best selves.”

Bring yourself a care package to work!  Fill your desk drawer with things that make you smile, feel warm and cared for. Choose items that will allow you to focus on you and your self-care.  Throughout the work day, you can close your door, dive into your stash of healthy snacks, put on your soft wrap or sweater, apply your lip balm and hand lotion, open up a meaningful book of poems or quotes, or touch a stone that you picked up on your latest hike in order to restore, refresh, and bring a sense of calm.


5. Check things off your list

Bertram is a huge believer in creating to-do lists that you can check off both, large and also the smallest tasks.  She calls it “check-mark validation.” For example: “Respond to Frank’s email – check!  Open IT ticket – check! Go Outside, breathe, stretch, and listen to a comedy podcast—check, check, check and check!”

Try it and see how satisfying checking off something on your list can feel!

CDC.Gov.  Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.  Feeling Frazzled? Totally Tense  Under Pressure
Brantley, Jeffrey, MD, & Millstine, Wendy.  Five Good Minutes at Work.  MJF Books, New York, NY  2007
Su, Amy Jen.  Harvard Business Review.  06/19/2017.  Six Ways to Weave Self-Care into your Workday

By: Mary Tyrey, BSN, RN, NBC-HWC
Health Coach – Raleigh, NC

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