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Updated 13 January 2016

How to work through work stress

Apply these relaxation techniques at work, and reap the rewards.

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We all know that stress is unhealthy, but when it comes to work we often decide to suffer in silence because we rely on the income we earn.

If your deadlines and duties at work make you feel anxious, and you end each day with a sore neck, you may need to apply these relaxation techniques.

Naturally there are times that you’ll be stressed at work, like when you’re an air traffic controller and there’s a power failure. But most people should adapt to what their job throws at them on a daily basis. Here are a few ideas on helping make that happen.

Stop multitasking. Focus on completing one task at a time. Turn off all the browsers and screens except the ones you need. Draw up a to-do list and smash through it like a knife through hot butter, or something. That way you won’t have one, big dreaded task of the day hanging over you with damoclean dread.

Exert yourself. Go to gym, go for a run, sprint up 12 flights of stairs or go a couple of rounds of shadow boxing with the boss. It’ll get the oxygenated blood fizzing around in your bloodstream again and you’ll feel like a human being, rather than a drone.

Stretch. Touch your toes, or put one foot on your desk and touch it, keeping your leg bent. You need to be standing to achieve this, which is a good start. Rotate your neck slowly. If you hear a crunching sound, be gentler. Stretching helps you relieve immediate stress and tension.

Burn some oil. Essential oils can be fantastic at altering your mood, without any risk of being arrested. Try an aromatherapy burner with some pine or sandalwood oil. This is easy if you have your own office, rather than the shared airspace of a cubicle.

Get some sun. A few minutes of sunshine can make the whole PowerPoint presentation you just deleted seem less important. Substitute that extra cup of coffee at 11.30am for a few minutes of sunlight and you’ll have a more productive afternoon.

Rub your head. Rub your temples gently while focusing on something far away. The horizon would be good, but the photocopier will do. This gives the muscles in your eyes a break from close focusing.

See some light. Open the blinds and get some daylight into your workspace. If that’s not practical without breaking down several cubicles, replace the strip lighting in your workspace with daylight-balanced flourescent lights. They mimic daylight and are much easier on the eyes. Daylight-balanced bulbs are also available.

Play some music. Whether it’s the ethereal harp sounds of Andreas Vollenweider or bone-crunching Red Hot Chilli Peppers, music can alter your mood. 

Try a CD with the sounds of nature mixed over easy listening classical music. Baroque-era music and ballet can work well too. Nobody said you had to be a musical purist, just a calm and productive worker. If your colleagues complain, use headphones.

Have some tea. Sip a cuppa. Have a raw carrot and a piece of fruit. Send you partner a salacious email or an e-card. Do all these things for yourself. Then back to work. Chewing gets the blood in your head flowing. And the emails? Well, that’s up to you.

Clear your desk. Start and end each day with a pristine work surface, a perky office plant and a clean coffee mug. It’s good karma.

- (William Smook, Health24)

 
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