Sometimes at work, things can all become too much – unrealistic expectations, pressure, deadlines and stress can all combine to have a serious impact on our wellbeing.
Whatever the cause of your stress, the following deep relaxation exercises are designed to help you to calm down, release the tension in your body and effectively manage anxiety and stressful situations, whether at work, or at home.
Like anything, relaxation is a skill that needs to me learned, and practice makes perfect. Whilst you may initially struggle to relax, if you persevere with these exercises, they will become more and more effective over time.
Good relaxation starts with controlling your breathing – when we get stressed, we tend to take quick, shallow breaths that serve to quicken the heart rate, and don’t provide the body and brain with enough oxygen.
First, find a quiet place, where you won’t be disturbed. Take off any tight fitting outer clothes, and your shoes, and sit down in a comfy chair with a head support, placing your arms on the arms of the chair, and uncrossing your legs.
Now, concentrate on breathing deeply in through your nose, and out through your mouth in a slow, controlled and regular manner. Count to five as you breathe in, whilst think about filling your lungs with air so that they expand like balloons – you can put a hand on your stomach and feel it expand as you breathe in.
Now breathe out through your nose, again, counting to five, completely emptying your lungs.
This process will force your heart-rate to slow, and after a few minutes, you should start to feel a lot calmer. Carry on until you feel completely calm.
Mindfulness is a way of focusing on the present – the idea is that by focusing on the now and blocking out all the outward stresses, we become more aware about our internal thoughts feelings and emotions, so that we can manage them better.
In addition to helping with stress, anxiety and depression, it’s also a great way of boosting concentration, and helping you to focus on the tasks at hand.
One quick mindfulness exercise suitable for work involves focusing on a single object for about 3 minutes. Turn off your computer screen, and pick a common inanimate object from your desk (not your smartphone or tablet), like a pen, coin, or stapler.
Now, using the relaxed breathing technique outlined above, describe the object to yourself in as much detail as you can. You might focus on the colour, texture, it’s use – it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is to focus completely on the object, emptying your mind of all the stresses and strains.
After a couple of minutes, you’ll feel more refreshed, focused, and ready to tackle the next job!
An integral part of many forms of meditation, visualisation is another great way to reduce your stress levels at work, taking your mind off the problems at hand and enabling your body to calm down.
Start by sitting somewhere quietly, and closing your eyes, begin the deep breathing exercise. Now, imagine you are somewhere peaceful, and far away from your workplace – it could be a beautiful sunny beach, or simply relaxing at home in a warm bath. Try to think of little details, to add depth and colour to the scene, and feel your stress begin to melt away.
Removing yourself from a stressful situation and going outside for just 10 minutes can make a huge difference, giving you chance to calm down, put things in perspective, and take a breather.
Other ways to de-stress
The truth is that everyone is different, and different forms of relaxation will work for different people. For some people, it could be something as simple as having a cup of tea, reading a book, or watching the television for an hour, but others need something a little more involved.
If you’re struggling with stress outside of work, there are a few things you can try that, if practiced regularly, may help you to relax and reduce your daily stress levels.
You might want to consider:
• Tai Chi
How Mindworks can help
At Mindworks, we’re here to help business of all sizes, working in all industries to optimise their mental health management, through a range of tailored mental health training and consultancy services.
For further information, contact 01482 240134, or email [email protected]