Sometimes a small dose of distraction can be a good thing.
Stress levels in the office can rise when potential layoffs loom, you’re juggling multiple projects, or home life creeps into the workplace. While some people have jobs where they can take a yoga break, the rest of us have to come up with other ways to briefly let off steam.
Gina Walter, a special education teacher in the Northeast, said she gives herself the luxury of a 10-second daydream where she visualizes sitting in a quiet, empty classroom on the last day of school, with summer vacation ahead of her.
The Mayo Clinic lists a number of ideas for taming stress. Here are a few:
Take a walk
Any form of exercise is a good stress reliever.
Have a laugh
Laughter stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles; boosts the endorphins released by your brain; soothes tension; and releases neuropeptides that help fight stress, according to the clinic.
Nancy Shah, of New York, said that when she was a consultant, her teams would take a minute to share funny quotes or watch funny videos to take the tension down a notch. Just make sure not to laugh at the expense of others or you might face another sort of stress.
Turn up the tunes
“Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it provides a mental distraction, reduces muscle tension, and decreases stress hormones,” the Mayo Clinic wrote on its website.
Journalist Joe Nguyen, an online media producer who deals with daily deadline pressures, said he will put on his headphones and “crank up something angry” to relieve stress. “If I can get a minute, I’ll head to the gym downstairs and power through a set,” Nguyen said.
Step away from the caffeine, work it out, and give yourself a break
Brice Chidester, an associate director of technology, said he avoids coffee. “Makes me anxious,” he said.
“If I know that I’m heading for a busier-than-normal day, I make sure I exercise in the morning, as it seems to balance my brain a bit,” said Chidester, of Columbus, Ohio. “After exercising, I almost invariably feel more alert and relaxed.”
Having a snack is important so he doesn’t get grouchy. So is meditating, if he can get away for a few minutes.
“Even just practicing my breathing can help calm me down,” he said. “It also helps remind me that not everything that needs my attention needs my attention at this very minute.”
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