While its no mystery why or how work possesses the power to create serious stress channels in our systems, how to relieve ourselves of this stress does seem rather mystical. Maybe it’s because we’re much too focused on conquering the next set of deadlines to address our stiff backs or simply because we’re incapable of believing in a Zen reality. Whatever it is, it’s dangerous, and a moment to remove stress from the body is essential. Even at work.
Take A Deep Breath
First thing’s first, and that’s breathing. This can be done easily behind a desk and grants you the opportunity to take a short amount of work time to think about absolutely nothing. Odd as it may sound, this semi-breathing meditation is meant to clear your head of any thought – including thoughts of relaxation. Thus, by calming your mind with silence, your mind is capable of better communicating to you your needs. Institute of HeartMath’s Research Overview declares:
“While situations, encounters or events may seem intrinsically ‘stressful,’ it is truly how an individual perceives and reacts to an event that determines whether or not the stress response is activated.”
In other words, it may be you who is summoning more stress than is necessary, without even knowing it. Sit up straight against the back of your chair, elongating your spine and breathe deeply into your belly. “Deep breathing can be important to both health and spiritual development,” says Dennis Lewis, long time authority on the benefits of relaxation through meditative techniques. “Such breathing can increase our vitality and promote relaxation.” Only by breathing deep and down, without raising your chest or lifting your shoulders, can you create a sense of relief for your body. While focusing on your breath, try not to fixate on any one thought. You’ll have the rest of the day to do that.
While you may not want to draw attention to your desk by crawling under it and attempting a yoga position none too appropriate for the office, there are still stretches available to you while working. Doc Childre and Howard Martin of The HeartMath Solution have said: “As a response, stress expresses itself as resistance, tension, strain or frustration, that throws off our physiological and psychological equilibrium, keeping us out-of-sync and stressed-out.” Thus, the tension and strain related to stress is stored in our bodies, which only grow more stressed in trying to support the stress already stored. The only solution is to give some extra love and attention to your long forgotten physique.
Loosening Your Neck
While sitting down, tilt your head to your right side and let your left arm hang loosely near your legs. Put the top of your right hand on top of your head and ever so slightly apply pressure. You should feel a nice stretch in the left side of your neck, which is a common place of stress storage. Repeat the stretch to the other side. By doing this a few times a day, you soothe your body with a reminder to relax and remove tension.
Letting Go of Your Lower Back
The lower back is a dangerous location for stress in our bodies, because it creates a shortcut for stress throughout the rest of our system. A statement issued by the Body Stress Release method assures that, “while body stress remains stored in the lower back, the irritation to the nerves may undermine or disturb the normal functioning of the areas and organs they supply. Thus body stress may lead to digestive problems, e.g. constipation/ diarrhea, bladder complaints and may adversely affect sexual function.” This means, take care of your back or your back will have vengeance. To loosen the back, be sure never to slouch or slump in front of the computer screen. Stretch your arms above your head and alternate reaching your fingertips to the ceiling, so that the sides of your back are delicately pulled. Then, hug your chest and hang over in your chair, allowing your upper body to loosen completely (Obviously, this is one to do when your boss isn’t looking…)
Writing to Release
What better activity to release stress, while restricted to an environment that prohibits wild, gym-like behavior, than writing? While it requires no bizarre lunging and sacred breathing, you must surrender yourself to de-stress writing, otherwise it won’t work. If you approach a de-stress technique with the desire to quickly rid yourself of worry so as to move onto the next trial, you’re not going to de-stress at all. In fact, you’ll likely end up more stressed. To avoid this, always begin with at least some breathing.
The deep breathing will center you, even without the stretches, and allow your body to take a step back and slow down. Once in a more calm mindset, take a blank piece of paper and a pencil separate from your work materials entirely, and write freely for five to fifteen minutes. Don’t worry over grammar or spelling, the point of the exercise is to express yourself without censorship or concern. This way, when you have finished ranting and raving to your privately viewed sheet of paper, you will be less likely to cram your joints with seemingly unsolvable scenarios and less likely rant and rave at someone nearby, who has the power to fire you.