23 Ways to De-stress at the Office
By Ryan Herbstsomer, 11 min reading time
By Ryan Herbstsomer, 11 min reading time
Every job is going to have its ups and downs, and being able to effectively cope with the stress your job provides is a huge challenge many 9-5ers face.
This list of 23 quick tips will give you a variety of little things that you can do from what to keep at your desk to things you can do when your boss drives you mad.
Maybe one day, your office will be more relaxing than your home. At least there won't be any screaming kids, right?
Unfortunately, sometimes the way you start your day is the way your entire day will be. Stuck in traffic? Prepare to be anxious for a long time. Fortunately, we can use this to our advantage if we proactively start our day on the right foot.
BEFORE YOU SKIP THIS ONE: what if I said it only takes 5 minutes? I know, this one sucks. But if you’re the type of person to get out of work as fast as you can, chances are, you left your desk a mess.
Take 5 minutes to clean off your desk each morning. Just making everything neat can make a big difference.
Sometimes your brain can be going in 100 different directions when you get to work. Deciding what to do first can make your stress levels spike, and getting everything down on paper with a “brain dump” can really get your thoughts straight.
Going along with number 1, always make sure paperwork is filed. If not, the best you can do is get the papers off your desk. Even the floor is better. If you don’t need to use it RIGHT NOW, then it doesn’t need to be within your field of vision.
Distractions are a sure fire way to more stress and less productivity.
I can remember my mom telling me this one when I was 8 years old.
Make sure everything you need has a home so that when you’re done with it, you don’t even have to think about where it goes.
You know those drawers on your desk? And what about the little cubbies by your computer monitor? Yeah, those are for pens, business cards, and other useful stuff…not your fantasy football stats, a pile of rubber bands to shoot at Tom as he walks past your door, or the current issue of “all about beer”.
There are a ton of things you can keep at your desk that you can use on the spot each time you get stressed. Here are just a few, but try not to go overboard to avoid clutter.
Literally as I am writing this article, I have my headphones in with a relaxing Pandora station. Spotify also has some stations just for focusing. Not being able to focus is stressful in and of itself.
(Fair warning: don’t listen to music that has words. Singing along with the songs will not only make you look ridiculous, but you wont get a single thing done.)
Notice I didn’t say “snacks and water”. This tip is just as much about not keeping doughnuts and other unhealthy crap at your desk. Sugar will spike your insulin levels which can give you energy for about 5 minutes, and then you will be anxious the rest of the day. Not so relaxing.
For healthy snacks, I would suggest organic or natural granola bars (I like clif bars), but read the ingredients. If the first ingredient is sugar or honey, it’s a no-go.
Healthy snacks and water can keep you relaxed at work and are a great way to Zen your den.
Very simple: keep a trash can near your desk so that you don’t have said granola bar wrappers all over your desk. This also helps with extra papers or other things that should be off of your desk and into the trash.
Using the computer, pens, and office supplies that you like will help with stressful situations. I use a Mac. Yes, they’re overpriced, but what you’re paying for is the peace of mind that comes with a simple layout and significantly less time troubleshooting.
Using scratchy pens can drive you mad, and using pens and pencils that you love are a great way to avoid the “fingernails on chalkboard” sound that comes with a BIC pen.
Yeah, the word “ergonomic” may sound a little “woo woo” to you like “yoga” and “mindfulness”. But it helps. An uncomfortable body is an uncomfortable brain.
A more comfortable brain is a more peaceful brain, and something as easy as changing your chair can be a great way to destress at the office.
Again, a little “woo woo”, but tapping into each of your senses can really make your office more peaceful. Using lemon, jasmine, and lavender oils have been shown to promote a more peaceful atmosphere.
This is the one exception to not keeping things you don't need on your desk. A nice warming coffee or tea mug can really help when your boss is ticking you off.
When stressed you could pull your hair out, or you could keep a stress ball in your desk drawer and use it for 30 seconds.
This can also help buy time if you’re ready to send an email that you probably shouldn’t.
Part two: pretty things to look at.
Seeing the smiling faces of the people you love is a great way to relax. You can even take a quick glance between emails just to know what you’re working for.
If you aren’t close with your family or seeing the guys just makes you want to start a bon fire, try some art. Paintings, small sculptures, etc. Art may be expensive, but remember that you can keep it for the rest of your life, and you’re supporting a “starving artist”.
Going along with the tip above, pictures of vacation spots will help you keep on track and know what you’re working for. This is ideally pictures of places that you want to go, not places you’ve been (unless it was with your family… in which case it’s up to you!)
Keeping motivational quotes may not make your office space more peaceful per se, but it can help keep you on track and feel better about yourself.
I like “we’re striving for progress, not perfection”. Its a nice balance between productivity and peace.
I would check with your boss first… and I wouldn’t get piranhas… but the sound of water and the sight of colorful fish can definitely be peaceful.
Plants on your desk, free standing, or in your fish tank can not only make your desk less stressful, but it can add nature to your office and help filter stagnant air.
Humans were meant to be outside. So why wait until the weekend to sit with the trees?
A brighter office space can make your computer less stressful on the eyes, while also giving you more energy.
Using a sun lamp can help keep you awake, and can help with winter depression and anxiety known as seasonal affect disorder or SAD.
The boss may not let you paint the walls, but if you use posters, signs, and plants effectively, your office can be peacefully colored.
Using green, blue, indigo, and other “cool” colors can help destress your office and again, zen your den.
Sometimes, doing a few things in the morning isn't enough, and you need to destress on the spot.
Ok, maybe “crank” isn't the right word, but music can definitely distract you from the distractions, and keep you on track. De-stressing at the office in this case could mean mentally taking yourself away from the office.
Typically easier when in an office and not a cubicle, but stretching can be great to wake you up while also calming you down. Although I wouldn’t suggest doing a downward dog on your desk, casually stretching your arms and legs can really help with stress.
There could be an entire article on this, and I wont explain it here… but even a 5 minute meditation can go a huge way in helping you clear your thoughts and get the day started on the right foot.
Either commit to 5 minutes before you start anything else, or use it after lunch to be prepared for the rest of the day.
No, not a walk to the break room for a doughnut. Take a walk to the “water cooler” (do they still do that?) or just take a lap. Carry some papers in your hand and no one will even question it.
Walking around can be a good 2 minutes away from your desk since you forgot to clean it this morning (no, seriously, if you didn’t clean your desk this morning go back to number 1).
Walking will also get your heart going just a little bit, enough to wake you back up. Remember, being tired isn’t peaceful at all.
Remember, don't try to implement these all at once. Even one a week will have you totally de-stressed in under 6 months.
Every job is going to be stressful at one point or another, but hopefully I helped you learn a few ways of how you can destress at the office .
Whether you have a nice cozy corner office or a 3 foot cubicle to do your work, you want to do your best to have more enjoyable work days than stressful ones.
Think of it this way: You spend as much time at work as you do sleeping. Don't spend your days on edge. Add some plants and light, keep some water and snacks with you, and get your head down and get to work.
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