12 Ways to Reduce Stress From Your Desk

The beach. The gym. The spa. Of all the places you could go to your reduce stress, your desk is probably last on the list.

That doesn’t need to be the case.

Transform your workspace into a little retreat of its own, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Make your desk work for you for a change by taking a deep breath and learning 12 ways to reduce your stress – without getting up.

1. Get a Mini Massage

We’re not suggesting you roll out a massage table, turn down the lights and twist open a few bottles of essential oil.

Tiny ear massages work wonders if you’re stressed while on the job. And they’re subtle, so your coworkers won’t realize you’re giving yourself a de-stressing treatment.

Massage a spot on the upper part of your ear called the Shen Men. This pressure point is believed to boost health, fizzle stress and increase energy with the proper push.

Use a finger to press your Shen Men. Inhale and exhale while looking left and right and feel your stress go away with each breath.

2. Look out the Window

It’s not surprising that a walk outside can lower your stress levels. A recent study found that looking at pictures of trees could be a “natural stimulus” and make you feel less anxious.

Reset your desktop background to show a leafy scene or peek out a nearby window. Lose yourself among the trees the next time you’re feeling too much pressure.

3. Pick Up the Phone

Who de-stresses you the most? Is it your mom, your sister or your partner? Whoever it is, pick up the phone and call them for a five-minute chat when you’re overwhelmed.

Share that you’re feeling stressed for some of their feel-good advice or just catch-up to reset yourself for the rest of the day.

4. Breathe Right

Breathing patterns change when you get stressed. They move from regular and deep inhalations to shorter, faster ones. Instead of letting your stress drive your breathing rate, take your lungs into a different gear with controlled, relaxing breaths.

All you need are ten minutes and an idea of how to slow down your breathing pattern. Focusing on such a simple bodily function will make you feel more balanced, mindful and, of course, de-stressed.

5. Snack Smart

Eating an entire sleeve of cookies or a smorgasbord of chips from the vending machine to relieve your stress won’t give you the energy you need to be productive. Instead, you’ll feel tenser by the fact that you’ve abandoned your daily diet.

Have healthy snacks on-hand, especially when an important deadline or big meeting is coming up. A mug of herbal tea, an open-faced peanut butter and banana sandwich or even chocolate covered almonds can give you the indulgent taste and boost of energy you need without derailing your day.

6. Reduce Muscle Tension

Feel tension from your toes to the top of your head? Then this exercise is for you.

Flex your toes and then release, removing pent-up stress. Move up your body, from your feet to your legs, back, arms, chest, neck and wherever else you feel tense and repeat the exercise. You’ll feel energized and ready to move on with your day.

7. Find Your Funny

What’s the funniest video you’ve ever seen on YouTube?

Cue up your favorite funny video and use it as a lighthearted break from your responsibilities. Avoid falling down the YouTube rabbit hole — one cute kitten video turning into 20 — by setting a timer on your desktop, watch or smartphone. When you close your browser, you’ll feel happy, refreshed and de-stressed.

8. Turn on Some Tunes

Take advantage of the power of music, whether you’re working or taking a break. Research shows that music reduces stress in pre- and post-surgery patients in the hospital — your workplace stress levels are likely lower than that, so press “play” and see what happens.

Choose music that keeps you focused and concentrated as some music soothes, while other genres distract.

9. Write It Down

Journaling is a proven stress-reducing activity. Write down what’s worrying you and get it out of your system to start feeling better.

Use your journal to work through a problem and figure out a solution. Jot down what’s bugging you, whether to vent or find a remedy, and you’ll lower your stress levels.

If that’s not your thing, try another creative outlet and bust out an adult coloring book. Color instead of writing for five minutes to take your mind off of what’s stressing you out and end up with a pretty picture to keep at your desk to mellow you out in the future.

10. Clean Your Workspace

Remember all those times your parents told you to clean your room? It was more than just for the sake of bugging you.

Clutter can cause stress and have a significant effect on how you feel in your workspace. Obviously, there’s a simple solution — clear away the clutter and reorganize so that what you look at is sleek, clean and put-together. And voila, stress is gone and your desk’s utility is improved.

11. Meditate With Desk Routines

Start meditating and reaping the de-stressing benefits of meditation. Experts in meditation have already come up with techniques you can follow so that you feel relief even if you’re sitting in a cubicle.

If you’re up for it, try adding in a few yoga moves you can do at your desk to help you stretch while you unwind. The effects will be good for your body and your mind.

Added bonus — the above routines boost practitioners’ productivity too, so you’ll power through the rest of your workday with even more “oomph.”

12. Take a Break

Turn off your monitor and take a break. A quick five- or 10-minute breather could be just what you need to regain your cool. Grab a book or listen to music, so long as your job allows full-on desk breaks.

Breaks also give your brain a rest in many ways. De-stress during your break and return with a refreshed sense of gusto, thus spiking your productivity.

Feel free to use this information in a pro-break sales pitch to your boss.

How will you work to reduce stress at your desk? Share what you’ve tried — and how well it works – in the comments or on social media.

And subscribe to Punched Clock’s newsletter to keep up with the latest work-related tips and tricks to reduce your stress and fuel your success.


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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