We’ve all been there before. Sometimes you know that taking a step back and heading outside for a breath of fresh air would help you power through the day, but you’re stuck at your desk waiting for a call, or you have a meeting starting in six minutes, or just can’t.
This is when you have to opt for a right-where-you-are destresser. And to help you out, I’ve rounded up five tips to reduce stress right from your desk.
1. Ear Massage
This may seem like strange workplace advice, but this practice from traditional Chinese medicine has been proven to work! Medical studies have shown that ear massage (or auricular acupressure, if you’re feeling fancy) relieved stress and anxiety in pre-op and post-op hospital patients.
The trick is to massage your ear gently, right in the middle of the upper third of your ear. This spot, called the Shen Men point, reportedly decreases stress and boosts energy—just what you need on a trying day.
If you have trouble finding the particular spot, start by massaging your earlobes then working your way up and around the outer shell of your ear. This should produce much the same effect as Shen Men.
2. Workspace Reset
Your parents were right when they told you to clean your room. Your mindset’s reflected in your space—and vice versa.
Even if you’re swamped with work, take the time to put empty wrappers and scrap paper in the trash, tidy up your workspace, and clean out your digital desktop.
3. Hand Trick
If you want to give your hands themselves a break (sore wrists from constant typing are real), pay attention to your thumbs.
Start by lightly pinching the muscle between your thumb and index finger and massaging in small circles. Remember to keep it firm yet gentle, to relax the muscles. You’ll feel your hands, shoulders, and neck start to relax, and, in no time, you’ll be ready to start working again.
4. Breathing Technique
Before you say that you already know this one, bear with me. While taking a deep breath is the oldest trick in the book, you can enhance the calming effect of this simple tip with some basic body mechanics.
It’s simple: When you breathe in, imagine the air inflating your stomach instead of your chest. Push your stomach outwards to draw the air down, then pull it back in to really empty your lungs of air. Put some muscle into it for three breaths, then fall back into your normal rhythm newly relaxed, and ready to take on your tasks.
If you find that this works for you, then you should definitely check out this two-minute exercise.
5. Progressive Relaxation
This meditation technique’s used to combat anxiety and stress, and is a fast way to reconnect with your body without going anywhere.
Start at your toes, tensing and slowly releasing the muscles. Work your way up your body, tensing and releasing the muscles in your feet, your legs, torso, arms, neck, and even into your face (but don’t scare your co-workers!).