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8 Stress-Busting Exercises You Can Do at Work

Posted 10/7/2016 by UHBlog

If work and life are stressing you out, we can teach you how to calm down and carry on.

8 Stress-Busting Exercises You Can Do at Work

Have you ever gone to work feeling fine only to have one work emergency after another arise? Sometimes, breaking out your “survival” chocolate stash fends off the stress? Other times, your stress builds and you become a boiling pot of pent-up tension trying to cope in a pressure-cooker work environment.

“Many of us have more on our to-do lists than we can possibly handle in one day,” says yoga therapist and meditation instructor Dawn Miller, MA. “I have a quote that I use when I’m teaching, ‘You can’t stop the wave but you can learn to surf.’ So much of stress is how we react to our stress.”

To short-circuit the emotional and mental strain, Miller recommends using one of these eight tried-and-true stress-busting exercises that you can do at work.

  1. Walk away. When you go outside for some fresh air for 5 or 10 minutes, it can help clear your head.
    “Getting up and being physical can help release some of the stress,” she says.
  2. Try progressive relaxation. Two exercises that can be done at your desk include:
    • Purposely creating tension by scrunching and tensing up your entire body from your feet to your shoulders as you inhale. Then breathe out with a big sigh to release the tension. This activates your nervous system while providing relaxation and relief.
    • Doing seated cat-cow movements where, with your palms resting face down on your thighs, you lift your chest up and forward as you inhale. Then, do the counter movement by tucking your chin, belly and shoulder blades on the exhale.
  3. Allow yourself to laugh. “See if you can find a little humor in the situation,” Miller says. “Laughter is a great way to relieve stress. It can also help you look at things in perspective. Do you want to use your life energy being stressed?”
  4. View photos that you enjoy. Surround your work space with images that make you happy, such as a photo of your family, a pet or of something you love. Look at these and meditate for a few minutes to alleviate stress.
  5. Practice gratitude. “Ask yourself, ‘What is one good thing that happened to me today?’” she says. “It can be a little thing like, ‘I saw a friend’ or ‘I got to work on time.’ This can help you reframe the situation.”
    You can also write in a journal. When times are tough, re-reading it may help your stress to lessen.
  6. Learn to say no. Sometimes it’s the non-work and volunteer activities that cause pressure. It’s important to set boundaries, especially if these outside events are adding to your stress at work.
    “Learning to say no to others can be part of your self-care,” Miller says. “Saying no to someone else is saying yes to yourself. It allows you more time to pursue the things you enjoy. You’ll be able to come to your work with a clearer, calmer state-of-mind.”
  7. Prioritize tasks. Not every item on your to-do list may need to be done today. According to Miller, having a conversation with the other person about the deadline may lead to a more manageable timeframe in which to accomplish the work.
  8. Enroll in Stress Management and Resilience Training (S.M.A.R.T.). Developed by University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network, the eight-week interactive S.M.A.R.T. workshop helps you:
    • Develop simple practical tools to build your stress resilience
    • Learn to create an effective stress management practice
    • Improve your ability to react positively to stress to enhance your overall well-being

For different modalities and classes designed to help you manage stress, visit UH Connor Integrative Health Network website or call 216-285-4070.

Dawn Miller, MA is a certified yoga therapist, registered Viniyoga yoga teacher, Stress Management & Resilience Training (S.M.A.R.T.™) instructor and meditation instructor at UH Connor Integrative Health Network. You can request an appointment with Miller or any other health care provider online.

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