In today’s fast-paced world, work-related stress is a major concern by productivity experts, health and wellness experts and public policy advisors alike. A recent publication from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health cites several surveys that suggest 25 per cent of workers experience extreme stress at work on a regular basis.
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Stress in the workplace is more than just uncomfortable; it is recognized as a contributing factor in a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, which may eventually require treatment.
Clearly this is serious stuff, but hey, don’t stress about it — we’ve got you covered. There’s been a lot of exciting stress reduction research in recent years, which offer quick, easy, and fun ways to beat stress in no time. Some of these techniques can even start working in as little as five minutes.
The next time you’re having a rough day at work or anywhere else, give a few of these simple practices a go.
1. Take A Walk
Regular walking has many, undeniable health benefits. Like most forms of exercise, walking has been shown to boost your body’s production of stress-reducing endorphins. Research also suggests that walking through a green space may help you get into a state similar to that of meditation. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a leisurely stroll through the park and feel your troubles melt away.
2. Practice A Few Minutes Of Mindfulness
There is an ever-growing body of evidence showing mindfulness and meditations’ many benefits, such as stress reduction, improved focus, and improved mood. However, you don’t need to go to an ashram or lock yourself in a meditation room to take advantage of this ancient practice. Simply sit upright in a chair in an alert, but relaxed posture, and pay attention to the flow of your breath. Breath deeply through your nose and exhale smoothly several times, focusing on your breathing and letting the world around you fall away. Try to focus on breathing, nothing else. If you find your thoughts wandering, there’s no need to stress! Just gently bring your focus back to your breath. Many people swear by this incredibly simple technique.
3. Enjoy A Sweet Treat
Research shows that enjoying an occasional sweet treat or beverage can reduce the production of glucocorticoids, a hormone related to stress. Artificial sweeteners don’t seem to do the trick (and they’re bad for you!), but you don’t necessarily want to go on a processed, white-sugar binge either — thankfully, there are many natural sweet alternatives out there, like honey, maple syrup, agave to choose from. For the clean eaters out there, the natural sugars from fruits, especially frozen grapes and dried dates, will surely give you the pick-me-up you’re after. And remember, a square of dark chocolate every now and again can do a body good.
4. Turn Up The Tunes
Music has also been shown to have a significant impact on the production of stress hormones. Classical music in particular can have a calming effect on both your body and your mind, but the choice of music is entirely up to you and your preferences. Keep a calming playlist handy so that the next time you feel the stress coming on, you can simply put on your headphones and groove out to your favourite beat.
5. Turn Off Your Phone
We’re addicted to our phones, but according to recent research, all that constant checking and scrolling can lead to higher levels of stress. Try completely unplugging for an hour, if not a whole day — you may be amazed at how much more relaxed you are when you’re able to live in the moment, without having to constantly check for updates. If you must check your phone on a regular basis, consider limiting the amount of times you check the screen to just once or twice per hour to keep your stress levels in check.