Even if you love your job, there's a good possibility you're stressed during the day. While it's not usually possible to take a two-hour run or a yoga class in the middle of a workday, this doesn't mean you can't find a few minutes to get some quick tension relief.
Here are three things you can do at your desk, right now, without anyone even knowing.
1. Go to your "happy place"
No, don't actually go there (unless your happy place is the office break room). But there's definitely value in taking a quick mental vacation from spreadsheets and deadlines. If you have a few minutes to yourself, think about a place you'd like to be -- whether it's the mall or Montana.
This is probably the easiest tip on the list, because it simply requires you to close your eyes, exhale, and imagine your favorite place. But we also recommend trying to put yourself there through every one of your senses.
In other words, don't just picture a beautiful beach scene -- smell the salt air, feel the sand on your feet, hear the waves crashing, taste that daiquiri… you get the point. Take the timeout, your work will be waiting when you return.
2. Breathe deep
We don't spend too much time thinking about breathing. But maybe we should. According to Harvard Health, we might all be breathing the "wrong way." Instead of taking shallow breaths through our chest muscles (which leads to tension) they recommend taking slow, deep breaths to promote better oxygen use.
By breathing deeper, your heartbeat will also slow down, which then levels out your blood pressure. From there, you're likely to also feel calmer and more relaxed, simply by letting oxygen do what it needs to do.
3. Laugh it up
I won't bore you with a line about "laughter being the best medicine," but according to the Mayo Clinic, there are few natural stress relievers better than laughing.
No, we're not kidding (see what we did there?) -- laughter has the ability to relieve stress from the inside out.
First, laughter is a natural way to take deep breaths and get more oxygen, which is huge for relaxing tense muscles. But laughing also helps to release endorphins that boost your stress response and balance your heart rate.
If your coworkers are a cause of your stress, let them be a part of the solution. Take some time to share a story, a good (SFW) joke, or reminisce about a funny happening from last summer's company barbecue.
Not only will it help your personal stress levels, but it might also help improve communication with your colleagues. Then, this might just lower your stress entirely … and isn't that why you're reading this in the first place?
Stress relief is a long-term process. But if you can find a few minutes in your day to relax, refocus and re-calibrate, those last few hours of work might just be your most productive.