Many people struggle with stress. All too often, we get stressed at a time and place when we can’t simply “check out” for a few moments to decompress. For those of us who work at a desk, the problem can be even tougher.
When you’re tied to a desk job, you may not have the freedom to stand up and move around the room when you feel like you need to. Maybe you’re facing a deadline that’s just twenty minutes away, then a client messages you with a request that’s contrary to the original order. Now, you’re stressed. You’re worried about the account and you’re in danger of replying in a way that would be suboptimal. But you still need to meet the deadline that’s bearing down on you.
You don’t have time to get up and walk around the room. You definitely don’t have time to take an early lunch break and meditate at the park for ten minutes. What can you possibly do to decompress and get focused again for those crucial 20 minutes?
5 Quick & Handy Ways to Decompress at Your Desk
In a saner world, you wouldn’t be forced to swallow stress and continue to perform quality-intensive work. You would be able to hit a big red button that says, “All right chaps, this desk jockey needs a break or all hell’s gonna get loose.” All too often, desk workers will just eat the stress, and then drink the stress as soon as they get off work. And that comes with its own problems.
But what if you could melt your stress without leaving your desk? Here are some ways to blow off steam without even leaving the comfort of your own chair.
- Desktop Reset
Just as a messy home can reflect your state of mind, so does the state of your desk. If things are out of place, cluttered, or just not sufficiently feng shui, it will add stress and slow you down. So just take a minute to straighten and organize the immediate area on top of your desk. Get rid of anything you don’t need. It will make you feel sharper, and give you at least a small sense of control over your circumstances.
- Ear Massage
Just one of two anti-stress pressure point exercises we will share, an ear massage is easy, covert, and effective. Medical research has shown that this technique has helped patients both before and after surgery to relax and even experience less pain. Press gently against the upper third portion of your ear and make a gentle, circular, rubbing motion.
- Hand Pressure-Points
Our second pressure point technique releases tension in the hands, shoulders, and neck. These are spots where tension tends to accumulate. Pinch the muscle between the thumb and forefinger with the opposite thumb and forefinger. Apply firm but gentle pressure and move in small circles. This technique triggers the lungs to open up if slightly firmer pressure is applied. It can be slightly painful, but that is the way to get the best results. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt your hand.
- Breath Reboot
Our breathing technique is very close to the way we should all breathe most of the time. We tend to breathe into our chests which actually triggers a stress response and does not oxygenate our tissues fully. The technique involves breathing with the diaphragm into the abdomen and inhaling for five full seconds and then exhaling for five full seconds. Breathe in through the nose, and out through the nose or mouth. Breathing in through the nose allows for better oxygen absorption. This will slow your heart rate and saturate the system with oxygen. It can be hard to adjust to, so it will take practice. In time, it is best to try to breathe this way all the time.
- Segmental Relaxation
Segmental, or progressive relaxation, is a meditative technique used to get practitioners into a state that is more amenable to mindfulness. It is also extremely covert and can be done at just about any time or place. Simply relax one part of your body at a time, moving in order of proximity until you have relaxed your entire body. Most people begin with the feet, then relax the calves, then the upper legs, the glutes, the abdomen, and so on. Focus on each bodily segment, relaxing it fully before moving on to the next. This exercise not only relaxes the body, but it also takes your mind off stimuli that trigger stress.
Stress relief ideas like these are frequently referred to as “brain-hacks.” As the term suggests, they are quick, easy, and fairly covert ways to decompress in a tense environment. You might even be able to do them without anyone knowing what you’re doing. That’s a big plus, especially when you’re ensconced in a corporate culture where productivity is the highest commodity.
Sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Home Page
Psychologicalscience.org – Tidy Desk or Messy Desk? Each Has Its Benefits
Pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Auricular acupressure as a treatment for anxiety in prehospital transport settings
Healthline.com – 8 Pressure Points on Your Hands
Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ -Effects of Nasal or Oral Breathing on Anaerobic Power Output and Metabolic Responses