Finding time and space to decompress, de-stress and clear your head at work can be challenging. Your urge to run and hide is part of the answer.

People who have an outlet to relieve stress at work are more productive and compassionate at work. Considering that 80% of the workforce is stressed at work, you need a simple battle plan that you can execute anytime, anyplace.

It’s the 11th hour, and expectations are high. But the mounting pressure is too much to handle. To stay afloat, you want to jump ship. You grab onto an overinflated beach ball only to have it slingshot out of reach. Time to paddle back to shore and regroup.

Try these 3 simple steps to quickly relieve stress at work:

1. Retreat and regroup

When you feel stressed out your nervous system sends commands to the brain to keep us safe from harm. We want to fight, flee or freeze. Your urge to run and hide is your first step to immediately feel better.

DO THIS: Find a quiet place free from distractions.
businessman resting under tree outside office
  • The bathroom is a top choice in a busy workplace.
  • If you have your own office, close the door, sit down and face away from the door and instead look out the window or at the wall.
  • If you have time, go outside and sit next to a tree. According to Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, “Nature can have a powerful effect on our mental state”.

2. Balance with breath

When stress hits, your breathing speeds up. Your heart rate and blood pressure rise, preparing you for decisive action. Slowing down the breath has an immediate positive effect on balancing the nervous system, initiating the relaxation response of rest and recovery, oxygenating the brain, slowing the heart rate and normalizing blood pressure.

Breathing takes you out of our reptilian brain and into the reasoning area of the brain which will help you make better decisions. We all need that!

DO THIS: In your quiet place, take a deep breath into your belly and exhale fully through a softly open mouth.
business woman meditating sitting on a desk beside a computer
  • Repeat at least 3 times, up to 20 times.
  • Close your eyes to reduce the amount of visual stimulus to the brain.
  • Focus all of your attention on your breath (this is a good time to be selfish!)
  • Focus on the felt sensation of the breath moving in and out of your body.
  • Breathe without struggle or strain.
  • Allow the breath to flow naturally in a long, smooth, steady stream.

3. Notice how you feel

Most of us are taught to push our feelings away. If you ignore it, it’ll go away. But the stress keeps mounting you feel hopeless and incapable of handling anything else. One more straw and you’re broken. It’s counterintuitive but when you begin to acknowledge your feelings the sting of negative emotions naturally diminishes over time.

DO THIS: After taking a few deep breaths, notice how relaxed the body is and how calm the mind is.
  • From this calm state, your decision-making processes are working at peak performance.
  • Your body is balanced, maintaining homeostasis and training your body to be resilient.
  • You have made a shift from reacting to the pressure of external forces acting against you to responding with your natural internal resources to self-regulate.

Now what?

DO THIS: Give yourself a high-five!
  • Habits are linked to the expectation of a reward so find a positive way to reward yourself.
  • Repeat this simple 3 step process for relieving stress at work often.
  • The more you do it the easier it gets.

How might you use these 3 easy steps to instantly relieve stress in other areas of your life?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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