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Five Quick Tools to Alleviate Stress at Work

Written by: Jason Howard, M.A.
Five Quick Tools to Alleviate Stress at Work

In today’s fast-paced work environment, it’s crucial to have quick and effective strategies to alleviate stress. Below are five tools you can use in around ten minutes to improve your mental health during a work break, starting with STOP, and then proceeding mindfully.

  1. S.T.O.P. Technique
    The S.T.O.P. acronym stands for:

    • S: Stop moving and pause what you’re doing.
    • T: Take a deep breath and lean or step back.
    • O: Observe yourself and your surroundings. Ask yourself, “Am I stressed, tired, anxious, fearful?” and “What do I need next?”
    • P: Proceed mindfully. See the next few tools for suggestions.
  2. Observe and Move Mindfully
    The following are several ways to think and move more mindfully in the present moment. Each can be done in a minute, or less:

    • Focus on certain shapes or colors in your environment for one minute. The brain cannot focus on two things at once, and this simple practice can reset ruminating thoughts and help your mind move on to the next task or meeting.
    • Tense and relax muscle groups for one minute. This can release stress stored in the body after sitting too long. For example, breathe in and tighten your shoulders, arms, and wrists, then exhale and release. Repeat two-to-three times.
    • Get up and move. Taking a walk outside or grabbing a coffee serves to both reset the mind and release physical stress and tension stored up in the body while sitting for long periods of time.
  3. Breathe Mindfully
    Set a timer for three minutes and focus solely on your breath. Feel the air enter through your nose, filling your lungs, and then slowly exhale through your mouth. This simple act can center your thoughts and reduce stress levels.
  4. Check Out Mindfully
    Close your eyes and imagine for one minute a peaceful scene or memory. As you breathe in and out, engage all your senses to fully immerse yourself in this visualization. This mental escape can provide a quick relief from stress and help you feel more refreshed and positive.
  5. Reflect Mindfully
    Take a moment to reflect on something positive that happened in the last hour. Writing it down is even better. This practice shifts your focus from stress to gratitude, which can uplift your mood.

Implementing one or all of these tools can make a significant difference in managing stress at work. Remember, taking care of your mental health is just as important as meeting those deadlines. So, the next time you feel overwhelmed, take ten minutes to try out these techniques. Your mind will thank you!