Who hasn't experienced this? The phone rings… as soon as you've put down the receiver, your Inbox pings with new messages every few seconds, and then the reminder function on your cellphone goes off, for the third time, to tell you you're late for that meeting. Your head's pounding, and the only thing you want to do is pack your bags and run away to a remote desert island.
These anti-stress exercises, which are ideal for the office, can help you escape, at least for a few moments, in your imagination:
- Breathe deeply: it sounds simple, and it is just that. Breathe in through your nose for around 4 or 5 seconds, hold your breath for around 5 to 8 seconds, and then breathe out again slowly, through your nose, taking about 5 to 10 seconds. These deep breaths stimulate a nerve which connects the areas of the brain that calm the body.
Relax your muscles: the reciprocal effect of tensing and relaxing individual muscle groups is the decisive factor in this exercise. Start with the muscles in the lower part of your body, and work upwards towards your head. The important thing here is to release the tension in your muscles after around 10 seconds. Tensing and then relaxing these muscle groups increases the circulation of blood around your body, and gives you a new burst of energy:
- press the soles of your feet hard against the floor
- clench the muscles in your buttocks as hard as you can
- tense all the muscles in your stomach (and your upper and lower abdominal muscles at the same time)
- clench your hands into fists, and press your arms to the sides of your torso
- tense your face muscles: press your lips tightly together, screw up your eyes and wrinkle your nose
- Go for a walk: even if your desk is covered in paperwork. Movement and fresh air are the secret weapons against stress. Take five minutes for a walk round the block. You'll notice you can come back to your tasks with new energy. If you're not able to leave the office, there's another way in which you can get fresh air: intensive ventilation. Open all the windows and doors in your office wide, for a few minutes, and fill the space with fresh air.
- Blink your eyes: it sounds trivial, but it has a really good effect. Spending an entire day looking at a screen subjects your eyes to stress and harmful emissions. Look away from the screen and blink your eyes for a minute, as fast as you can. This not only exercises your eye muscles, and releases them from staring at the screen, but also has another beneficial side effect: your eyes are irrigated by a thin layer of tear fluid. Then, close your eyes for about another minute, and allow them to relax.
Brain food: there are many ways in which people can gather energy and cut stress levels. One of them is by eating. But here's a note of caution: sadly this doesn't mean chocolate, cookies and gummy bears. To help it concentrate and work longer, your body needs complex, long chain carbohydrates, good quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids, among other things. Studies have shown that the foods listed below will help your brain get back into gear:
- wholegrain bread or oats for breakfast
- trail mix: nuts and dried fruits as snacks between meals
- fruit or freshly pressed fruit juice
- yogurt with fruit or a buttermilk smoothie
- You should drink a lot of water or unsweetened tea – when your body is stressed, it needs more liquid. To prevent long-term health problems, it is essential that you drink enough