Stress is a Killer, and the Office is a Battlefield
A lot of research has told us that sitting, slouching, and craning over our keyboards can significantly add to the harmful effects of stress in the workplace. But don’t panic—you don’t have to be a yogi mystic to get rid of stress.
All you need are a few minutes and these 5 stress reducing exercises to feel the weight of the world lift off your shoulders until quitting time.
1. Get Up: Stand Up to Stress
The most effective way to eliminate stress in the workplace is to move around. A “runner’s high” is more than just a catchy phrase. When you move, your body releases endorphins which make you feel more alert, energized, and simultaneously relaxed.
What’s even more exciting is that you don’t have to run a marathon to get your juices flowing.
Just standing up from your desk a couple times a day and move around. Even brief exercise can increase your metabolism and release endorphins, both of which make you far less susceptible to cardiovascular and heart disease.
A simple way to keep you on your toes is to wear a FitBit or other smartwatch that tracks your steps and alerts you when it’s time to get up and go for a stroll.
One study found that men who routinely spend more than 2 consecutive hours sitting had a 125% increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease, an another University of Texas study says, “Sitting around can mean letting stress accumulate in your body.”
The simple truth is, when your move, you’re healthier.
2. Shrug It Off: Shoulder Shrugs & Neck Rolls
If you’re glued to your seat, the most effective exercise you can do at your desk is shrugging.
We carry a lot of stress in our neck and shoulders, and this stress can build up over time to the point where we don’t even realize how rigid and tight our shoulders can become:
● Take a deep breath, and raise your shoulders to your ears
● Hold them there for a few seconds, then release your breath and lower your shoulders
● Repeat and you’re on your way to a less stressful day.
Want to make your shrugs more hardcore? WebMD recommends “asking yourself silly questions” while you shrug.
Shaking your head slowly either “yes” or “no” to, “Is your boss wearing that dumb tie again?” will further reduce stress since, “Shedding tension is as much mental as physical.”
3. Give it a Twist: Torso Twists
This is one of our favorite exercises because of how it gets your whole body involved. To correctly perform a torso twist:
● Plant your feet shoulder width apart in front of you
● Take a deep breath, then exhale as you slowly twist to your right
● Grab the back of your chair with your right hand and the right armrest with your left hand
● Keep your eyes level as you use your grip to twist farther to the right
● Hold the twist, rotating your head around as well
● Release and return to the starting position
● Now twist to the left
If you can only do one exercise, make it the torso twist. It blasts away any stress you have in your lower back, and loosens you up enough to handle those late afternoon marketing emails with a smile.
4. Rotation is Key: Wrist Circles
If you use a keyboard and mouse, you’re at risk for carpal tunnel. Take care of the stress build up in your forearms and elbows with a few quick wrist circles:
● Loosely clench your hands into fists and hold them out in front of you at shoulder height
● Rotate each wrist inward for 10 seconds. Pause.
● Rotate each wrist outward for 10 seconds.
Now shake it out and get back to work.
5. Get Your Legs Involved: Leg Extensions
We tend to neglect our legs, especially when we sit. It’s one thing to do the occasional calf lift or ankle stretch, but to really reduce stress you have to get the whole body involved, and that includes the large quad and hamstring muscles:
● Grab the seat of your chair, making sure you’re balanced
● Lift both legs straight out in front of you, parallel with the floor
● Hold them there for 5 seconds
● Point your toes straight out, flexing up and down
● Lower your legs and repeat
The best part about leg extensions is that it activates your core. When people ask how you got your killer beach body this summer, you can tell them it was from filling out your T.P.S. reports.
Final Stress Reducing Tips
Don’t Eat at Your Desk
Craning over your desk is a terrible way to spend your lunch our. Get up and get out. Take a walk down to Nanoosh for a well-deserved break and one of our delicious Mediterranean Power Food Plates.
Eat Healthy Snacks
Don’t pack your body with harmful sugars and salts that will only make your crash in a few short hours. Beat the afternoon slump with a handmade granola bar and keep your energy levels up longer than a double espresso ever can.
Get a Smartwatch or FitBit
Setting “fitness alerts” or break timers on a smartwatch (or even just your phone!) is a great way to keep you accountable and track your progress. We all like to feel like we’re accomplishing something, and watching your step count climb is a surprisingly effective way to stay fit at the office.
Take a Walk Instead of Sending that Email
Your co-worker is just down the hall, and you haven’t talked in ages. Bonus: If they know a good joke, a hearty belly laugh is a great way to eliminate stress.
For the lucky few, stress isn’t a factor at work. However, the rest of us need to combat the harmful effects of stress that can build up in our bodies over time. Use these few simple exercises, eat a healthy diet of organically sourced food, and keep a positive outlook, and you’ll be stress free in no time.
If none of that works, you can always pick up this custom foot hammock for your desk and pretend you’re in the Caribbean. That works too.